Funny old weather we’re having. One minute its summer and the heat from my red glowing legs is giving me a hot flush. The next minute I look out the window and it looks like someone is pouring a bucket of water over Auckland. Like the Crowded House song goes, Four Seasons in One Day could not be more fitting for this place.
Weather complaints aside, its CHRISTMAS EVE! And never before have I felt less Christmassy than I do now, sitting in the Pacific enjoying this (mostly) fine summer we’re having. Christmas trees and tinsel seem out of place. Rather than guzzling down mulled wine and Quality Streets, I’m stocking up on bikinis and suntan lotion. I do feel like I’m missing out on those cosy nights when darkness draws in early and everyone checks into the pub for wine and merriment in their Christmas jumpers. But then I just take myself down to the beach for an after work swim to remind myself that things are actually greener on the other side.
It’s been a busy few months with a whirlwind trip back to the UK in November and two new house mates staying with us throughout December. Shout out to Mark and Judy Bronka for being the first visitors in our new home (and for the endless bottles of wine they bring with them).
Last weekend we took them on a road trip four hours South to Tongariro National Park, the first time I have seen the area outside of the ski season. Mt Ruapehu was looking so fresh and so clean with its snow covered peak.
We set off early to take on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 19.4km track that climbs up to the peak of Mount Tongariro. The track is steep and the weather unpredictable. What starts off as a leisurely walk through the Lord of the Rings set in the beaming sunshine soon turns into an upward climb to the top of the snow covered mountain with winds trying to push you back down.
It was exhilarating and mind blowing walking through alpine environments that looked like they belonged on another planet. When you start the descent down the mountain you’re greeted with the otherworldly view of the three crater lakes. The photos have not been photo-shopped, they were really that colour.
You also get an awesome view of Mt Ngauruhoe (AKA Mt Doom) on the hike. The area is New Zealand’s main area for volcanic activity (part of the Pacific Ring of Fire) and we noticed lots of vents and hot springs blowing steam against the clear blue skies.
The walk took us six hours in total, including stops for photos and lunch. It could easily be done in five if you’re fit and healthy so don’t take any notice of the DOC website when they say it could take up to eight hours. If your weather is good it will be much less.
There is something about being up in the mountains which makes everything else in the western world seem so insignificant. I don’t mean to sound all Zen and shit but standing on top of the world looking out upon active volcanoes and geysers is really good for the soul. Up mountains, over hills, along plains, through forests – hiking is cool man!
The next day we set off to the breathtaking Lake Taupo for a dip in its cool fresh waters, which are overlooked by the mighty Mt Ruapehu. Bliss. We also stopped off at the Huka Falls which are well worth a visit for the crystal clear blue waters that thunder along the river banks.
We’ve been in New Zealand for almost ten months now and it seems to have flown by, even though it’s been jam packed with explorations and adventures around the country. Next month we’re flying down to Queenstown which I’m ecstatic about as it’s all that Kiwis bang on about when they hear you’re a tourist. The longer we spend here the more attached we seem to get and where we’ll end up is anyone’s guess.
So for now I’ll just wish y’all a very Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2016.