Welcome back to my New Zealand Travel blogs. I’ve now been back home for a week and am adjusting back to normal life so sadly the blog hasn’t been top priority BUT now the jet lag seems to have disappeared I’m back on it and so excited to share with you the rest of the trip.
If you missed the previous ones, make sure to read them first:
Our first day in Tongariro was not a good weather day. Thunderstorms were due to come in shortly after lunch so we got up early to get a 6km walk in around Taranaki Falls. We did get a little bit soggy but nonetheless enjoyed getting a glimpse into the national park in Tongariro.
At the first opportunity when the rain eased, I pulled out my camera and take some photos… as you can see, we were quite soggy.
From here we drove through Whakapapa to Tawhai falls which is otherwise known as Gollum’s Pool. Being so excited by all the wild swimming opportunities here, I decided despite the cold, I couldn’t miss out on a quick swim in Gollum’s Pool!
I was amazed by how powerful the waterfall actually was here, I tried getting much nearer to it but the volume of water was just too strong so I just kinda got swept back a little. Despite being rather cold, it was an awesome swim location and I’m so glad I took the dunk. Probably the coldest swim of the whole trip, but one of the coolest! Pun not intended.
Once the thunderstorms rolled in we took to a cosy evening at my brother’s place – he lives and works at Hillary Outdoors in the national park – and played a board game, socialised with his mates, and cooked a delicious chilli!
Mavericking (inflatable kayaking)
The next morning the weather was beautiful and the water levels weren’t too high so we took some mavericks down a grade 2 river for some kayaking/whitewater rafting.
Knowing that inflatable two persons kayaks weren’t going to be the most stable of things and that the worst thing to do when you fall out of them in a fast water section is to stand up (in case you get your feet caught on a rock and then pushed over by a flow of water); I was actually quite nervous. Thankfully, I absolutely loved it. The first few rapids I would kind of nervously laugh, but the later ones turned into pure joy.
Watching Mum and Dad in the other kayak was also fantastic… particularly when they fell out — am I a terrible daughter?
In one fast water section, Mum was chucked out of the front of the boat to the left, and then Dad followed falling out backwards legs totally in the air: the memory of this in slow motion will forever be ingrained in my brain and will continue to make me chuckle — I think maybe I am a terrible daughter!
You’ll also be pleased to hear, that unlike on the guided sea kayaking tour in the Coromandel, I did not throw up!
AH, it was just such a fun morning on the water.
We were super hungry afterwards so fuelled ourselves up with cakes and sandwiches and then headed back to my brother’s house. But before we cosied down for the remainder of the day, we went down the flying fox (a zip line). It has a fantastic view of the river below that you can’t really view from anywhere else, so of course I had to make the most of it and do it twice.
A proper adrenaline-fuelled day!
Exploring Tongariro below Mount Ruapehu
The rain came back on this day so we spent the day being tourists and touring around the base of the mountain Mount Ruapehu.
For a country that doesn’t have much railway infrastructure, we took in a lot of railway stuff on this day. We visited the spiral lookout, a viewpoint with a sculpture that depicts the architecture and engineering of the railway line which was an architectural challenge due to the shape and altitude of the hills hence its spiral shape, and we also saw one of the railway’s viaducts which was an impressive size.
To get our steps in, we also took a walk around two lakes. It was on a trail around the first lake but a bush track around the second sacred healing lake once used by the Mãuri. It was a really peaceful walk, seeing literally no one until we arrived back at the car park.
We could also hear a lot of bird songs and the rain pattering on the lake softly – I felt super refreshed after it. A good day in nature.
The final stop on the journey around the mountain was the army museum. It mostly exhibited New Zealand’s history in the wars, but there were some particularly interesting exhibits on the death ship (a ship with an influenza outbreak) and another on being prisoners of war.
On Christmas Eve Eve, we took a day trip to Taupō. We started the day in Spa Park for a short walk, dipped our toes in hot water pools here, and grabbed a coffee at the cafe.
As Taupo’s lake is an active volcano, there is A LOT of geothermal activity here. We took a visit to the Craters of the Moon, a boardwalk around stem vents and mud pools. I was super excited to see this — I won’t lie, Abi’s inner GCSE geography student was unlocked and came out again.
On the drive back, we swung past Huka Falls too. I have never ever seen water as fast OR as powerful as it was here. It was really quite mesmerising in a somewhat terrifying way. You could see how the water pooled over the fall, and then was pushed underneath the river and boiling up and being squashed back down again, an insane amount of power.
Up and ready and walking by 6am, my brother and I tackled the Tongariro Crossing… in reverse.
22km, and 1221 meters of height gain later I was a very happy (and tired) Abi.
It was such a scenic walk, I can see why it’s such a popular trail in the country.
The volcanic alpine landscape is a walk where I know no other walk’s scenery will ever come near too. As you can see from the photos, we crossed; craters, crater lakes, and glacial valleys, and steam vents. It was all so dramatic and every kilometer had an amazing new view to offer, it was truly fantastic! If you can’t tell from my rambliness; I LOVED it.
I cannot believe this is how I spent my Christmas Eve, not sure if it can ever be topped!
After the walk, I was absolutely knackered but ended up going on another (thankfully short) walk with the parents around some Lord of the Rings locations!
So by time it got to Christmas day, I was ready for things to be a bit slower. We spent Christmas in Taupo staying at my brother’s friend’s house which we arrived at on Christmas Eve evening and ordered a takeaway in.
I’ll share what we got up to Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the next blog.
Thanks for reading!