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Sha’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 11 Apr 2007

Location: Hastings, New Zealand

MapBelated Easter greetings to you all! Hope you had a good 'un. Well back to the apple picking yesterday after a week off! Yep we were laid off too last week, so not to miss an opportunity we headed to Taupo early then over to the West coast to check out the Taranaki region. All set to head down to the South Island now!

So we arrived at Taupo late Tuesday night after we had spent an unscheldued day off cruising around Hastings doing the wineries! We stayed at this real basic campsite (free!) down by the Waikato River lovely spot (well so we could see in the morning!). Then we headed to see the Waikato Falls, which to be honest were'nt specatular in drop it was the shear power of the water as the river is forced through a gap 10 meters wide from about 50 meters. From there we plodded on our way to see Craters of the Moon a geothermal area which became active in the 50's following the creation of the geothermal power plant down the road. Totally disapointed with it (to be expected following White Island!) we headed up the road to the Geothermal powerplant borehole - which was incredible. OK it was the shear construction of the pipes that run for 2km they built them like a bridge over the road so you drive right under! Following that sad excitment it was into Taupo for the rest of the day to admire the biggest lake in Australasia.

The next day we ventured south - me excited for our white water rafting experience which turned out to be down the Tongaririo River which is a grade 3 rapids. But that was not before we check out the breeding process of the humble trout at the Tongariro National Trout centre! Mind boggling stuff! (There was this viewing section in the river with a glass front and these huge trout just hanging out by the glass like they had been trained to do it or something - weird!). Anyway back to the rafting - a great wet and wild time had. Took a swim in the warm 10 degree celius water and had my head dunked while going through a rapid nicknamed the nose blaster! Ummm.... should have pushed the instructor in for that!

Good Friday turned out to be a fantastic day as we battled with the rest of the hundreds of tourists and walked the Tongariro crossing - NZ best one dayer walk! And boy did it live up to it. As we had got the early shuttle to the start we also climbed Mt. Ngauruhoe at 2287m its become my highest peak. It is as I would like to add a very active volcanoe, and had active fumerols steaming away around the crater on top! And for the LOTR fans its also the mountain that they digitally enhanced for Mt. Doom!. Though it was like I could imagine walking up through hell to get to heaven must be like. A sheer 35 degree slog up scoria which is like water through sand. Great fun coming down - slid most of the way on my butt!

Following that the rest of our journey over Easter was pretty mundane - except that I put the rear lights of the van out by reversing into a vehicle at our campsite, (opps!) no damage to theirs so it was a quick getaway. The journey over to the west coast took us down this road called the 'Lost World Highway' and you could pretty much see why! Not much happening but rolling hills and sheep oh and this funky little one lane 'Moki' tunnel going through the hillside. The highlight of the road had to be a place called Whangamomona, which declared itself a republic in 1989 - it has a population of 30, and yes my passport is now adorned with a beautiful republic stamp!

The west coast treated us to sights of Mt. Taranaki which unfortunately we had no time to climb! And Cape Egmont and its lighthouse the most Western point on the North Island. I can't forget to mention the giant loaf of bread and cow that we came across on our travels - New Zealanders will do anything to get tourists to stop! (Perhaps Wales should take a leaf outta their book - giant leeks?). The last night was spent roughing it at a view point overlooking the Wanganui River - NZ's largest, unfortunately the rolling freezing fog the next morning ruined any chance of photos!

So there you have, oh and you'll be glad to know that a few drinks were had on our way round. Another knitting party took place - dear old Frankie now has a scarf!

Off for a well earned takeaway.
Sha x