Thursday, April 2, 2009

Turangi, New Zealand

12th - 13th Feb
I had a long drive to my next stop in Turangi where I intended to do the famous Tongariro crossing (well Lloyd said it was famous!) This one day trek is rated as the best in New Zealand and takes you past the volcanoes of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngaurahoe (which is active and which you can climb to the top of if you want).

You can also see the volcanoe Mt Ruapehu which famously erupted in 1995/6 - right in the middle of the ski season:

1995 Eruption (nicked off the web)

I actually drove past the volcanoes on the way to Turangi:

Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ngaurahoe

And as I did I heard a loud explosion and saw this below mount Mt Ngaurahoe:

I near did the proverbial in my pants thinking the bleeding volcanoe was erupting until I realised that I was near an army training camp and the explosion must be a shell going off. What sort of army explodes bombs near active volcanoes?!

I arrived at Turangi and was lucky enough to get the last dorm bed in riverstone backpackers. I asked the manager about the crossing to which he replied 'you have no chance! its going to rain heavily for the next 2 days!' I also asked him about skydiving in Taupu which he also said was highly unlikely for the next couple of days.

BLOODY NEW ZEALAND WEATHER!! Secretly I was thinking 'good I have an excuse not to do the skydiving!' That night I went to the supermarket and got some provisions and then walked round the town - when I say town its really a village with absolutely nothing in it. I had arrived too late for finding out anything else to do from the local tourist office. They did however have '24 hour touch screen facilities'. One slight problem with that - the touch screen was in the closed office!

24 hour touchscreens - for burglers!

In the hostel I met two Irish girls who were into caving (one of them works in Marble Arch Caves back home in Ireland). They had just come from Waitomo were they had spent 3 days doing all sorts of different caving trips (all for free - sort of a busmans holiday for them). They said I had to go there and do some 'black water rafting'. I had Waitomo penciled in on my itinery anyway so got more details about the best trip to do when I was there.

The next day was supposed to be my trek but instead I drove to the ski village of Whakapapa (pronounced Whack a papa?) which I was told had a good visitors centre. I was also going to try to do some walking around some of the marked tracks at the village. Instead when I got there (passing by the start point for the crossing) the heavens opened up and all I could really do was go to the visitor centre which was pretty good and had a decent display about the 1995/6 Ruapehu eruption

Start of the crossing - I am sure you csan make out the volcanoes!

Golf course just before Whakapapa village - I bet there was somebody out there playing a round of golf!

After my excursion I headed back to hostel and spent the rest of the afternoon inside watching the monsoon that was happening outside. I booked myself onto the blackwater rafting the next day as it was not dependent on rain and then settled down for a boring night of tv and blogging.

The next morning I awoke to find out that rather than the expected second day of rain the sun was splitting the trees! Typical. At 9.30 I said goodbye to the two Irish girls who were heading down to Wellington and headed for my black water rafting in Waitomo.

Heres the website for the Tongariro cross: What I DID NOT SEE

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