Friday, 19 April 2013

Taupo and Tongariro

This morning we said goodbye to Bill who runs the Bay View quirky campsite we stayed at for 3 nights (after only planning on one, maybe two) and it was like we were saying goodbye to a long lost friend. What a nice guy he is. We told him we definitely wouldn’t be back tonight and, to prove it we headed straight off on the SH5 ‘Thermal Scenic Highway’ to Taupo and Tongariro.

Views on the 'Thermal Scenic Highway'
It’s a pretty route, but no cell phone coverage, just as I needed it while waiting for a phone call from Doctor Gordon Miller about my next surgery appointment (note to self: try and stay brave!). Got to Taupo, found a Medical Centre and had my stitches out. Tried to be casual about it, but found myself feeling faint so had to lie down (how pathetic is that!). Anyway, that’s over, but then got the call, appointment with new consultant next Monday, surgery 7th May. Cost: NZ$1800 (!) Hope the insurance covers it! Second note to self: put the ‘OMG’ to the back of my mind!

Anyway, had a look at Lake Taupo, but didn’t get the perfect picture of the volcanos in the Tongariro National Park perfectly reflected in the lake. The photo below was the nearest we got, we’ll just have to imagine what it may look like. Lake Taupo is NZ’s largest lake at 616sq km and 185m deep and is the crater of a huge volcano that last erupted in 186 AD, when it spewed out 10 times more rock and ash than was produced by Krakatoa and Mount St Helen’s combined, sending ash clouds around the world. Apparently the Chinese noted a blackening of the sky and Romans recorded that the heaven’s turned blood-red. It’s a beautiful tranquil scene today and the whole area is full of action packed thrills from Parascending to jet boating and white water rafting, plus loads of great walking and scenery.
The volcano's of Tongariro National Park 'reflected' in Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo - that's one big crater!
On the advice of the people at the i-site we headed off to the Tongariro National Park just to the south, to look at the volcanos there as they told us the weather will turn bad tomorrow and we may not get a view. I had wanted to walk the spectacular Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is a long day walk, but only half of it is open at the moment due to Mount Tongariro recently erupting closing that part of the park, so you can only go so far and then have to turn round and go back the same way. It’s also a bit late in the year now and, coupled with my current state, we’ve decided to leave it and go and be tourists for the day tomorrow (if the weather holds!) sightseeing in the park and maybe doing some short walks. We took a drive over to the upper part of the park and saw ‘smoking Mount T.’ which just looked so unusual to us. 
Smoking Mount Tongariro
A nice hilly scene that could be anywhere, but with the addition of big craters with billowing smoke! The lady running the campsite we’re staying at in Turangi told us how she was woken up by a huge bang one night in 2011 (I think she said), followed by a loud rumbling that went on for a long time. How bizarre to be living so close to so many unstable volcano’s, but she wasn’t phased by the whole thing, it’s just how they all lead their lives. Mount Ruapehu, the biggest volcano in the park, has been unstable recently and the feeling is it will go up again sometime (last eruption in 1997) and if it does she said to spare a thought for her having to clean the flat roofs of the 96 cabins she has on this site! A nice attitude to have, not that she might die, just that it might cause her a lot more work!

Three legged 'Pod'
Jackie was delighted to find this camp as they have three cats, two of which a very friendly and want lots of fuss from her. The one, ‘Pod’ was a feral cat that came to them years ago with a really bad leg that had to be removed, so it hops around on three legs, but has a really nice nature and is obviously very healthy and happy. Jackie’s in cat heaven!

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