An Exciting Weekend and a New Home

Our
vagabond existence continued for another week, staying with Rose twice (who is
now recovered from her infection) with a long weekend away in central North
Island before moving into the house in Wadestown on 29th October.

Monday
27th October was Labour Day, a public holiday in New Zealand, so we
planned a tour up through the centre of the North Island by car as far as Lake
Taupo. We left on Friday night, driving out of Wellington on State Highway 1 in
our borrowed car. We made good time (despite gloomy prognostications about
‘traffic’ – New Zealand doesn’t have traffic) and reached Wanganui in time to
check into a hotel and spend the rest of the evening in a pub.

On
Saturday the weather was grey, but we drove up the winding road on the west
side of Tongariro National Park to the visitor centre at Whakapapa Village, on
the slopes of Mount Ruapehu (although the mountain was hidden in cloud all
day). We did a couple of good walks nonetheless – one to Taranaki Falls, and the
other to Silica Rapids, where a thermal stream has deposited yellow silicate on
the rocks. From there we drove up to Turangi, a pleasant little town between
Tongariro and Lake Taupo. We stayed overnight in a B&B by the river, and
had a pleasant meal in the local motel restaurant.

On
Sunday the sun was shining, but it was still quite cold and a strong southerly
wind was blowing. We set off to do a walk up Mt Tongariro, part of the
well-known Tongariro crossing. The first hour was uphill through the forest,
but then we emerged on to the open hillside and the wind struck us full in the
face, laden with snow and sleet from the clouds over the mountain. Walking was really
difficult, but we pressed on regardless, and after another hour reached a hot
stream flowing out of the mountain. We called it a day there, and went downhill
with the wind behind us rather faster than we went up. It was an ‘exciting’
walk, but had some great views.

We
drove up the west side of Lake Taupo, which is the largest lake in New Zealand
and the crater of a volcano which erupted in AD 185. We got some good views
over the lake, and just north of Taupo town saw the Huka Falls, allegedly the
most visited scenic attraction in New Zealand. The motel in Taupo had its own
private thermal baths, so we tried these out before strolling along the lake
front into town for drinks and a meal.

On
Monday the sun was still shining and the wind still blowing. After visiting a thermal
area called Craters of the Moon, with lots of steam rising from lots of holes in
the ground, we went on a two-hour boat trip on the lake in the replica
steamboat ‘Ernest Kemp’. The lake was a lot rougher than we expected, and once
we got out of the bay and into the main lake we were tossed about all over the
place. We sailed round to see some Maori carvings by the water, but the boat
was tossing so much it was hard to see anything. Altogether it was more ‘exciting’
than we’d really bargained for. From Taupo we drove back down south along the so-called
‘desert road’, with some magnificent views of the three mountains on the way.


Monday and Tuesday nights
we stayed with Rose again, and then on Wednesday we finally stopped being homeless
and moved into the house in Wadestown, in the northern suburbs of Wellington. This
will be our home for the next three months, and has plus and minus points. It has
good views, lots of space, and is on a good bus service. On the other hand, it needs
some TLC and we’ve spent most of Saturday clearing it up and getting it straight.
Fortunately (?) the weather has been foul so we haven’t minded staying in for the
day.

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