A Travellerspoint blog

Wellington

Wellington is the third largest city in New Zealand and feels like it has a bit of life in it after the rather quiet centre of the country, which made a nice change. We spent our first day visiting the brilliant Te Papa museum, the only museum we have been to on this trip to rival those in the UK. In fact it was so interesting we went back the following morning. The exhibitions we explored included one on Maori history and The Endeavor (Captain Cooks ship) along with one on the earth, in particular to do with volcanic activity which answered a number of questions which we had from the volcanic areas we had been to.
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We had planned to meet our Kiwi friend Eryn, who we met in Brazil on our second day in Wellington and after all the culture we were more then happy to meet up with Eryn for some drinks. First we went on a small tour of Wellington (including through the airport carpark...Eryn's directions not always perfect). We stopped on the sea front at a nice cafe where we had lunch before driving on round the seafront and up to Mount Victoria for the view.
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We then dumped the car and had a few drinks whilst the sun set. We ended up going to the opening night (which meant free wine and nibbles!) of a play that Eryn's friend was in called the Cats Meow, this turned out to be a great play and we stayed afterwards to celebrate opening night with the cast and crew. We then said goodbye to Eryn and caught the ferry South early the next morning. The ferry goes through some beautiful scenery around the Malborough Sounds on the way in to port, which we headed up to the deck to view. It was pretty windy but Rosa made sure to wrap up warm.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 23:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Whanganui river

Three days in a canoe

To make a change from our usual walking tours we decided to do something different and hire a canoe for three days rowing down the Whanganui river. Each day was 6 - 7 hours of paddling starting at Whakahoro and ending at Pipiriki about 80km down stream.
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Our first day took us to the campsite of John Coull's with a stop along the way for lunch, there are unmanned campsites along the river around every two hours that you can pull in at and take some R&R before heading off on your next stint. On our first day however we missed the first of these and ended up having our first lunch (Cheese and pickle (Branston(!) sandwiches....the same lunch we had every day!) on a small stony bank that we managed to pull onto. Along the river we also saw numerous wild ducks, goats and even a few wild pigs, which we were not expecting.
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The second day was much of the same with regards to rowing however there was an additional bit of walking to a bridge called the 'Bridge to Nowhere' which was built by WW1 veterans who were given the inaccessible unmanageable bit of land for their troubles and made a good go of it for some time before the area was abandoned in the 1930's leaving just the bridge as a reminder of the remote settlement now only accessible by foot, mountain bike and canoe (or a speed boat for the less active). We had numerous speedboats pass us on the river, some of which created some rather large waves to content with.
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The river was interspersed with rapids which kept it interesting, these were reasonably small until the last day where there were a number of large rapids which we managed to negotiate without sinking, however it was one of the less technical rapids in which I (James) managed to steer the boat into a rock, knock Rosa out and fill the boat with a huge amount of water. This took some bailing before we were able to get going again and tackle the toughest rapid on the river known as 50:50 (You might make it, you might not). Here is the rapid and you can see the rock we hit.
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We handled the next rapid with much more success and the only water in the boat this time was that that came over the side from the one meter waves that we had to negotiate. Here is a pic of some other people doing the rapid after we'd made it to shore.
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The sun also came out for the final day, which made getting soaked all the more enjoyable.
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Rosa, drying off in the sun.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 22:34 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

After leaving Taupo we headed to a campsite where we would set off on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing walk. A popular walk in the North Island across active volcanic areas. In 2012 one of the volcanoes, Te Mari, erupted. Following this there is now a red light warning in place. If flashing red, turn around - Reassuring...
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We started the walk at 6am in the morning, meaning we set off in the dark but were able to view sunrise from the top.
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The walk from start to finish was about 5.5 hours with a few optional detours. One of the detours being a climb up Mount Ngauruhoe, also know as Mount Doom (From LOTR, as mentioned before). Being such an iconic volcano we had to attempt the climb up it. A challenging scramble up a surface of volcanic ash and rocks.
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The rest of the crossing was equally as stunning with sulphuric green and blue lakes and crusts of black rock formed from lava from previous eruptions. From the path we were also able to see Lake Taupo, where we had spent the previous day. The final part of the walk went past Te Mari, where you can see large puffs of sulphur spewing out the top.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 21:56 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Taupo

Taupo is a city on the largest lake in New Zealand (the size of Singapore) and yet another geothermal area. As such there was a natural hot spring along side the river where we went for a soak. Where as the water cascading into the river was hot the water of the river was cold resulting in a pleasant temperature which can be varied depending on how far into the river you swam.
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We followed this with a picnic next to the lake where we watched the boats and the parasailing. The lake has a backdrop of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings (more on this later).
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Next we visited Huka Falls where the river is squeezed between too cliff sides resulting in some impressive rapids.
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Across the road was the Craters of the Moon park an extremely active geothermal area which, you guessed it looks like the surface of the moon and is also the largest geothermal area in NZ.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 21:48 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Drive from Coromandel Peninsula to Taupo

On the drive from the Coromandel Peninsula to Taupo the road winds down the coast with some scenic views. We made some stops on the way as it was one of our longer drives. First stop was Karangahake Gorge, an old gold mining area with disused mines and and old railway line. We wandered through the old railway tunnel, which was about 1km long and almost pitch black, and the further along the gorge's river.
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Our second stop was Wahei. We'd planned to see whether there was anywhere for lunch in the small town, but were surprised to see the small town was very lively and the streets lined with classic cars and people in 1950's dress. On further investigation we discovered it was the Beach Hop festival. We stopped to take a look around and whilst Jimmy enjoyed glaring at the cars, I found a good place selling pulled pork buns for lunch, which was followed by an ice cream.
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The final top was Maclaren falls, a national park set along a river, where we took short walk to stretch our legs to Maclaren waterfall.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 21:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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