Easter Adventures

Over Easter we went on a
wide-ranging tour of the North Island, visiting a number of places we had
previously missed out. We were also amazingly lucky with the weather, as for
four days (Thursday to Sunday) we had pretty well constant blue sky and
sunshine, with light winds. We set off on Wednesday afternoon, picking up a
hire car and heading up State Highway 1 to Ohakune, near Tongariro National
Park.

 

On Thursday we managed to do the
walk we had already postponed three times because of poor weather. This is
called the Waihohonu Traverse, and crosses the park from the Desert Road (to
the east of Tongariro) to Whakapapa Village on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu.
Unlike the Tongariro Crossing we did last year, this is lower and less
challenging, and much less busy. In fact, we were the only people on the
shuttle bus that dropped us at the start. The weather was fabulous, and we had
great views of both Ruapehu and Ngaurahoe (Mount Doom) as we walked between
them. We also climbed up to a viewpoint where we saw both mountains and the two
Tama lakes. Finally we reached Whakapapa and checked into the Tongariro Chateau
(an imposing hotel built for the tourists of the early 20th century)
where we stayed for the night.

 

On the following day we drove to Napier,
on the east coast, along the so-called ‘Thermal Explorer Highway’. We went
along the coast and picked up a tour to Cape Kidnappers, at the southern end of
Hawke’s Bay. This tour took us along the beach sitting on trailers pulled by
tractors, a rather uncomfortable and bumpy ride, where we also got splashed as
the tractors swerved through the surf at the edge of the water. At the end of
the ride we climbed up to see the gannet colonies, where the young birds were
almost ready to learn to fly. They’re amazingly tame, and let people get up
very close indeed with no concern at all.

 

We decided to walk back along the
beach instead of riding the trailer, and enjoyed taking lots of photos of the
cliffs and interesting rock formations. You have to be careful to make it back
before the tide comes in, but we got back in one piece. We spent the night in
Napier, and discovered the peculiarities of New Zealand licensing laws, in
particular at Easter. On Good Friday and Easter Sunday it’s impossible to get a
drink (even a soft drink) in a bar unless you’re having a meal.  However, you can drink alcohol in hotels if
(and only if) you are resident.  Apparently,
you can also drink if you’re visiting a strip club, but we didn’t try that out.
Most odd.

 

On Saturday we drove up the coast
to Wairoa and then headed inland to Lake Waikaremoana, which is only accessible
along 30 kilometres of gravel road. We spent the day there, doing several walks
and visiting a number of waterfalls. We also climbed up to “Lou’s Lookout”, through
jumbled slabs of rock, and got a panoramic view across the lake. That was
another New Zealand scenic splendour ticked off the list. We returned to Wairoa
to stay the night in a motel, and then struggled to find somewhere to get a
meal. It seemed as if there were no restaurants, or even pubs doing food, in
the town at all. Fortunately, we stumbled into the Wairoa Club, where they took
pity on us, and gave us temporary membership and a very nice (and cheap) meal.

 

On Sunday we drove along to the
Mahia Peninsula, at the north end of Hawke’s Bay, and visited the seaside
resort of Mahia Beach and its Sunday market. We then cadged a lift from some
Germans in a campervan up a steep gravel road (we had chickened out of driving
up there), in order to do a walk through the bush to a viewpoint. We walked
back down the road, and got some further good views across the peninsula. From
there we drove back to Napier for another night.

 

The weather turned nasty on
Monday, which was when we drove back to Wellington, after visiting a couple of
wineries in Hawke’s Bay. Once we got nearer to Wellington the weather improved,
and we detoured to visit a pleasant little town called Feilding. On the main
road back to Wellington we got stuck for an hour in a traffic jam, but we finally
made it home after a number of adventures and new experiences.

 

Advertisements
  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: