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Claire’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007

Mapwell.... it's been a little while before i added much here so here goes...

i spend a fantastic 3 weeks in auckland really not doing very much at all, one day i didn't actually leave the hostel so when i say not doing much i mean basically doing nothing, great fun though, lots of great people and there's always something interesting going on in the camel (the hostel's called the fat camel, how can you not love it!?!?). i also did my first day's work in new zealand, babysitting (stick to what you know) for one of the guys who hangs about the camel bar's kids, really cute 3 year old, we went to the park and made biscuits, life is good!

so yeah i've now left auckland, strange moving on after having been somewhere for so long, i know in the grand scheme of things 3 weeks really isn't long but when the longest you've been somewhere is 6 nights in the past 4 months, 3 weeks is a lifetime. was great cause the morning i left england were playing south africa early in the morning so all my friends were there to wave me off, more to watch the rugby really but they were there like a wee fairwell party. and then i boarded the stray bus once more. we went up to the coromandal, had a few nice wee walks along some suny beaches and dug some hot pools in hot water beach and enjoyed a lovely BBQ with all my new friends and watched some rugby, was great being out in new zealands beautiful countryside again!

next stop was down in raglan, known for its surfing but i love it for the hostel we stay at, its up a hill, surounded by bush and you can't see anything but trees and sea, fantastic! especially as it was lovely and sunny so i spent the afternoon sitting in the sunshine in a beautiful relaxing setting. here dean caught up with me and we were to head off on a slightly different route from the bus tomorrow. from raglan we headed to hamilton for a night in what i would say is one of the more unusual hostels i've stayed in, it's run by an elderly couple and it appeared to be just their house but with a few extra rooms. we shared their kitchen and living area, a great idea and cause they're running a hostel it would be understandable to think that they would be friendly, cuddily grandparent type old people who perhaps had had a big family and enjoyed having lots of people around. but you'd be wrong, these were grumpy old people, who got fussy about what shelf you put your food on in the fridge and looked at you funny for using pots and pans, so we crept round and hopefully didn't upset them too much. having said that it was a nice enough hostel, just a little unusual.

after hamilton we headed down through kings country, which is one of the main maori areas in new zealand, the last area that the maori's handed over to the whites or Pakhia(spelt wrong no doubt but means strange whitemen), white means its a really nice beautiful largely unbuilt up place, none of us white people about to spoil the countryside :) although onmore than one occation we were warned to stay away from the locals, but we had no problems there and stayed in a really sweet wee hostel, a few k's out of town up on a farm, just us and a wee japanese girl who had the most stuff and food with her i've ever seen (well not ever but in backpacking terms that girl i think had the kitchen sink!).

next came our first big adventure, we headed down to national park, a tiny wee village filled with hostels and motels and that's about it, it's near the ski feilds and more importantly for us the tongariro crossing. after a bit of hunt we managed to find ourselves the cheapest hostel in town, i think got it even cheaper cause dean smiled at the girl on reception, either way i saved money so i'm a happy lady! was a quiet evening and an early night due to our 5.30am start in the morning!!!

so the crossing, i've added some photos, none of which do any justice to the walk. thankfully the worst of it was over in the first couple of hours, some pretty steep climbs, rather a shock to my body that had done next to nothing over the past month or so, but i made it up huffing and puffing. the views made the whole thing very worth while, and thankfully once you've reached the top it was steadily down the whole way, none of this up and down malarky that you often get on such walks. yes i know i haven't done all that many such walks but hills often go up and down. not only were the views pretty damn impressive but cause it's a volcano there's also quite a bit of geothermal activity going on, the ground at the top of the mountain is hot, nice warm bum when i took a seat, yet there's snow all around. there's steam coming out various bits and it smells a bit sulphury, i think it's all the variety that gives this walk the reputation of being one of teh best one day walks in the world, i'd say a pretty deserving reputation. if you're ever down this way i highly recommend it, and although some of it's tough i managed it so it can't be that bad! beautiful! it's an 8 hour walk so that was a pretty full day, the sunshine helped us along and i finished the day with a nicely pink nose (so much so that when i arrived at susans yesterday she said, oh you've got a bit of a tanned face!).

after my busy day of walking i gave myself a quiet day in national park, took a wee walk around the village, took many many photos of the volcanos, tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu (which had an erruption yesterday), it was a fantastically clear day so it was looking wonderful!! and generally just relaxed. one of the bus drivers that i know quite well was coming into town that day so i met up with him and his passangers for some food and drinks in the evening and decided to join the group on their trip down to wellington the next day.

so despite the fact that it meant i would completely back up on myself the next day i headed down to wellington (buses are free as all part of my stray bus pass so i thought i might as well have some company for the evening). yet another fantastically sunny day, a quick stop off to throw some gumboots, wellies to you and me, then a trip up mount victoria for some lovely views across wellington. it was a lovely surprise to find a whole load of people i know already staying in the hostel in wellington, my friend chris who i've kept bumping into after travelling with him a couple of months back then a few other friends from the hostel in auckland and some others from the stray bus i left auckland with, so turned out to be well worth the extra journey down.

next trip was north again to meet back up with dean and candice to drive round the surf highway (the western blob that sticks out the north island) where we saw some pretty impressive surfing and some pretty nice coastline, couldn't quite see mount egmont that sits in the middle of the blob cause as it usually is it was covered in cloud. moari ledgend has it that taranaki as they call it used to sit with the other three volcanos in the middle of the north island, then it fell in love with a girl who didn't love it back and because he chose the girl over his brothers he was banished to the west coast leaving a river of tears that connects between the mountains, and often taranaki will be covered in cloud to hide his tears. the next day however the cloud cleared and we got a lovely view of the mountain, couldn't see his tears though.

a slightly busier day followed where we went to see where they filmed the last samuri, i wouldn't have ever planned to go and do one of these film tours but dean was keen and i though it would be a nice wander round the countryside if nothing else. turned out to be a really nice morning out, it was just the woman that owned the farm where they did all the filming of the village, where the majority of the film was set, and she was just really excited about the whole process and the opertunity she'd had to watch the film being made and meet all the stars and everyone involved.

after that we headed back into new plymouth and candice headed back up to auckland and me and dean went for a walk along the coast, was just going to be a nice wee walk along the sea side but then the woman in the i site suggested that we walk up a big rock thing at the end of the walk way, we thought might as well, should be there about sunset and we'd get a nice view from up there and it being a public walk way surely wouldn't be that bad. but yes we forgot one thing, we're in new zealand and safety isn't really a main concern here so we scrambled up a rock that i'd quite like to have been attached to a rope but hey that's the way things are here. the problem with watching the sunset up a very steep rock is that its rather dark on the way down, but we made it down safe and sound, and bizarrely there were people climbing up when we were on route home, not sure why cause you don't get that good a view in the dark and it would be actually dark rather than just dusky on the way down...

that brings me about up to date, i'm now staying with susan and robert again for a few days, enjoying my double bed and electric blanket, life is good!!! and it was a year ago this week that i was here last year, madness! the weather has gone crazy today, after a fantastic week of sunshine todays been windy, rainy, sunny and i wouldn't be surprised if it snowed, that's new zealand for you!

well thats been my last wee while, hope you're all doing well,
Cxxx