Day One Hundred & Twenty to Twenty Three (1st Jan to 4th Jan) – North Island Trip

16 02 2011

Happy New Year..!

Day 1 – It feels strange waking up the day after with a hangover, knowing everyone else on the other side of the planet is still yet to have their New Year’s countdown. You kind of want to ring everyone up and warn them to ‘take it easy on those shots’, but you know it won’t make a difference. You’ll all still drink too much, and in 12 hours be in the same self loathing state I’m in now. However, by then, I’ll be over it all and feeling much better. That’s when I’ll call everyone and be very smug about it too….

Today saw us set off, a bit late and feeling sorry for ourselves, on the first day of our four day trip around the centre of the North Island. Due to our late start, all we had time for was dinner in Ohakune, an out of season ski town and then bed.

Day 2 – Mt. Ngauruhoe Aka Mount Doom (LOTR) – The guidebook describes the Tongariro Crossing as ‘probably New Zealand’s best one day walk’. Taking the gorgeous weather into account, we have to say it has probably been the best walk we have been on all trip. A truly stunning experience. We couldn’t have had a better day weather wise, with the temperature in the high 20’s and blue skies. We walked from the Mangatepopo side of the crossing.

The full car park suggested it was going to be a busy walk. Unfortunately it was busy, which is our only criticism of the experience. Fortunately after a few kilometres the numbers thinned out and once we turned off the main track to tackle the menacing and imposing Mt. Ngauruhoe there were far fewer people again. This has to be the steepest thing we have ever climbed. At points it was comfortable over 45 degrees and was covered in scree, rubble and boulders that had a habit of dislodging and rolling down the hill for other trekkers to dodge. Trying to get up the thing was like pushing water up hill with a fork. Every step you took had you sliding back down the scree slope. We really know how tough Frodo Baggins had it getting that ring to the top of Mount Doom.

After an hour and a half of battling the travelator we were at the top. The view into the crator was impressive. Vivid reds, yellows and white rocks and other volcanic what nots. Volcanic gases could be seen escaping from side vents on neighbouring volcanoes, whilst in the distance small emerald lakes glinted in the sunlight.

Getting down was great fun and took 30 minutes to slide/ surf down. The walk continued past other volcanic craters, old lava flows, geothermal springs and through a forest. Then a short drive over to Lake Taupo.

Day 3 – After breakfast, Winston and I headed out for 9 holes of golf on the local Championship Links course. To be fair, the course wasn’t too bad – a bit chocka and slow going. Still not sure how Winston and I managed to lose 7 balls over 9 fairly tame holes.

To cool down we all went jet boating at the Huka falls. This is where a skilled speedboat driver you have never met before, and are now entrusting your life with, all in the name of half an hour’s entertainment. He takes you out on the Huka River and then proceeds to try and manoeuvre at great speed as close to as many objects in the river as possible. The river bank, rocks, branches, you name it….

It was only after riding the Huka jet boat with psycho Steve that Sarah informed us that last year a boat crashed and someone died….thanks Sarah!!

Day 4 – Rotorua – otherwise known as Rotovegas was our base for a day of adrenaline filled sports. We firstly threw ourselves down a hill in big human sized hamster balls filled with water, otherwise known as zorbing. Jez’s zorb took a bit of an unplanned detour down the hill, but luckily he didn’t need any resuscitating at the bottom.

We then had our first taste of luging. Only in NZ would men, women and children be allowed to throw themselves down a steep, winding concrete track on little more than a school dinner tray on wheels. All said, and dangers aside, it was brilliant fun. They say in motor racing you never find the limit until you crash. Well, I found the limit on the first bend. Taking the first corner at pretty much full speed I managed to leave the track and after doing a couple of rolls landed in a heap on the side of the track.

The final activity of the day was the sky swing – a three person swinging pendulum device of terror. I have never seen Jen as scared as I saw her while we were getting strapped into the seats. She wasn’t looking much better when we were hoisted up to the start position. Terror gripped us all, with no one screaming on the way down.

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