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Day 8: Taupo

April 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Wednesday, 07 April, 2010:

It’s gotten cold.  Up until now it’s been 75 during the day and around 60 at night.  Today, though, it didn’t make it past 55 during the day, and it’s going into the 30s tonight.  For once I won’t be burning up while I sleep!

This cold weather will make tomorrow a bit difficult.  I’m planning to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 19.2 km hike that travels up and around Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe.  It takes 6-8 hours and reaches a high point of around 1800 m, though there’s an optional 3-hour addition that goes the rest of the way to the ~2250 m peak of Mt. Ngauruhoe.  I’m hoping to do the extra if my ankle is feeling up to it.  I have a shuttle schedule to pick me up at 6:15 am, so I should have plenty of time.

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park. The mountains (Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, among others) that I'll be hiking tomorrow.

The fire alarm in the hostel went off in the early morning. Luckily I was already awake, but most people weren’t that lucky.

I hung around Taupo today, taking a short walk on the lake front in the morning.  I also got to see the Aratiatia Dam let the flood gates open to let water flow down the Waikato River.  It wasn’t as dramatic as I was hoping—I was picturing gushing, killer water.  Instead, it was just a small flux that slowly raised the water level over the course of 15 minutes.

Aratiatia Dam

The Aratiatia Power Station, on the Waikato River, releases water three times a day.

Sailboats

Two sailboats on Lake Taupo

Fall is Coming

Just off the east coast of Lake Taupo. It still catches me off guard that spring is coming in April, especially when I see the trees changing.

Picnic Table

Also taken in the picnic area from above.

Red Delicious

Found near a mini-golf place in Turangi

I checked out some DOC camp sites down near the walk I’m doing tomorrow and saw some sites near those.  I walked across the viewing bridge for the Pillars of Hercules.  While I don’t really know what I was supposed to be looking at, the bridge itself was impressive, a ~100 ft. long suspension walking bridge 150 ft. above a river-filled gorge.  I wouldn’t like to fall down there.

I ended up ditching those spots for a semi-secluded spot on the side of the road.  The biggest advantage is that this spot is only 3 minutes from my pick up location tomorrow, instead of 30.  Though I will admit, I’m a bit creeped out being the only one around.  I’m close by a fairly major road, but it only provides access to the National Park.  Since no one goes there at dark, it’s deserted.  No cars have passed in at least two hours, and I feel so alone out here.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard it this silent.

Full Set: North Island

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Day 7: Rainy Day Tuesday

April 16, 2010 3 comments

Tuesday, 06 April, 2010:

A stay in a hostel is exactly what I need.  After 5 days of sleeping in the car, my body’s starting to feel it.  I can’t figure out how to lay the back seats down (or, moreso, I’m too lazy), so my feet are a bit cramped and just at odd angles.  Tonight, though, I’ve booked a stay at the YHA hostel in Taupo.

Before I get into that, I want to go through the rest of the day.  Last night I ended up watching Seven Pounds (which I finished at 3 am when I kept waking up).  That is probably the saddest movie I have ever seen, though incredibly well put together.  I won’t give it away, but I was quite impressed, especially since I heard only mediocre thoughts on it.

I woke up to find an older woman peering in my windshield.  I was a little freaked out until I realized she was just trying to read the numbers on my camping tag.  Still, a weird way to wake up.

Heading out from the camp, I was driving down the road when I noticed two cars stopped up ahead.  As I pulled up, I was attacked by a herd of sheep.  I guess they escaped from the pen as they were being moved across the street.  Eventually I had to turn around and find another way around.

Sheep Stampede

Went into Rotorua today looking for Internet.  I got online for a bit and checked my 38 emails and out out that my credit card is still being annoying.  I’ll have to give them a hard time about it when I get back.

Huka Rapids

Rotorua has pianos strewn throughout the city that are free and open to whoever wants to play them.  They’re part of Pianos in the Wild, which I think is an awesome idea.  When I’m rich, that will be one of my projects to better the world.  IT felt great to play again, though I was a little disappointed with how much I’ve forgotten.

It started to pour down rain, which made the day quite dreary.  In fact, I only ended up with three pictures for this day.  The trip around Lake Rotorua didn’t amount to much.  There’s wasn’t much after you left the city.  It ended up being a lazy day, driving slowly through the rain and stopping a lot.  Still, I couldn’t’ do much, so I hung out in the car, watched Friends, and talked to parents/Kat.

Food was a highlight of today.  Stopped at the grocery store and picked up lunchmeat for a sandwich.  Some of the best salami I’ve had, but also “chicken roll,” which is NOT normal chicken, as the woman behind the counter had told me.  Also for dinner, I had chicken pasta with onion, garlic, ginger, broccoli, and brie.  Quite tasty, especially the brie.

I’m a bit annoyed at how touristy and tacky the Rotorua/Taupo area is.  It seems that everything has a price tag on it.  I drove 10 km to an “historic volcanic valley” only to find that the 1-hour hike cost $36.  Even the bathrooms at Huka Falls were pay (though luckily the waterfall itself was free).

Huka Falls

It’s nice being in a hostel.  I had some nice conversation with two English couples and one Dutch couple.  We talked a lot about New Zealand and travel (where I was scoffed at for not knowing what The Lonely Planet is).  We talked about the prices of food and clothing between countries.  Apparenlty, TJ Max is called TK Max in England, though they can’t really say why.  Talking was really great, and I wish I had the money to stay in hostels through the whole trip.  You meet some real interesting people.

A long, hot shower felt sooooo great.

Full Set: North Island Trip