Are they sure about that?
05.02.2011 30 °C
We have noticed that there is a tendancy to overstate in Kiwish (well what would you call the NZ language?) We have eaten 'the best pie in the world', drunk 'the world's tastiest wine' and seen more' world famous' sites than you can shake a stick at. So you can imagine my surprise when I found our one and only example of understatement since our arrival - namely the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
But I get ahead of myself slightly - I left you with the crazy clouds in Okahune. We had headed to the region to visit Tongariro National Park - otherwise known as Mordor to all LOTR fans. As opposed to all the green scenery laden other parks - this is basically volcanoes and craters and sulphuric lakes. In other words - pretty stark. We couldn't go on the walk on the first day as the winds were too high - this should have been my first clue - so we headed slightly north and went for a mooch around the south western shores of Lake Taupo (the biggest freshwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere....of course!) Noush was stunned by the pumice shores which made it feel like you are walking on rice krispies and entertained herself for a fair while throwing the stones into the lake and watching them float......I think she may be relaxing!!
We had read about the Tongariro National Crossing and as it's one of the 'best one day treks in the world', thought we should give it a go. It's 19.4 kms (about 12 miles in old money) and we like walking so thought it would be fine. Having now looked up the word Trek I see that it says to 'travel with difficulty' - my second clue.
The reason I haven't written about this in the last week is because I was confident that with time I would look back on the experience with happiness and a certain amount of pride - having forgotten the feeling of crying on top of a volcano!!!! Long and short is that I have never done any rock/mountain climbing....in shorts......in gale force winds........thankfully Noush is more experienced than me at all this as she literally had to talk me down. But it was stunning - in a completely different way. We were picked up at 6am and were walking before the sun had completely risen - advisable as there is no vegetation and therefore no protection from the sun.
Our highest point was about 2000m - we decided not to add the summit walk at an extra 2 hours and left that to the masochists. There are three emerald lakes and one huge blue lake which are gorgeous to look at and STINK! Coming down the other side of the mountain was my low point - although Noush did fall on her arse to entertain me.......nb. laughing on a shifting mountain side in high winds is really tricky.
The trek took us 7 hours in total which is about average - and in retrospect I can say it was worth it. I had to entertain Noush in the last 4 kms as she started to lose the will to live and we both had aching glutes, calves and thighs for about four days afterwards but yes, it was an experience to be remembered.