New Zealand has been experiencing somewhat of a drought over the past four years or so, we’ve heard, so when it began raining in Taupo very early on Sunday a.m., we rejoiced with the locals and looked for indoor things to do: we very much enjoyed a worship service at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church – as well as the “nibbles and drinks” fellowship time that followed; spending the afternoon in the Taupo Museum and Art Gallery (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bmSyS9XNVE) was thoroughly engaging and informative – notable was the opportunity to actually enter, after removing our shoes in respect, a Maori whare (meeting house) created for and erected inside the museum. We toured the museum’s Ora Garden in the rain with umbrellas provided at the garden door – cool.
Since it rained so hard for a rather extended period of time (almost 48 hours straight), flooding conditions soon developed, so altho’ the rain was very welcome, the floods were unfortunate. A visit to Taupo’s public library took up Monday morning, then we went for a drive through a second geo-thermal field outside of town, trying to ignore the rain.
Conditions did improve by Tuesday, so we took the opportunity to visit the Oradei Korako thermal park – our new blog header was taken at the park, so you can see steaming features behind our heads.
The afternoon was spent driving the 49 km from Taupo to Turangi around Lake Taupo’s shores. Our chosen very slow pace enabled us to stop at several smaller beaches, take a tramp through the trees above the shore and visit a Maori cemetery.
On Wednesday, Jan’s birthday, we joined what turned out to be HUNDREDS of other folks in hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing,
a 12-mile trek through a volcanic area with very impressive views and features.
We had absolutely gorgeous weather and as we trekked along, I understood the comments given me at church Sunday a.m. about this hike: one gal (a British lady who spends a 3-4 month holiday here in NZ every summer) was effusive in her encouragement, saying we HAD to experience the walk. Her friend, a local gal, just stood next to here and shook her head, saying “You really don’t want to do that.”
The crossing is spectacular, there’s no getting around it, but it is also a real serious hike with challenging ascents and descents.
It goes without saying that both of us were seriously creaky by the time we reached the end. In fact, once we returned to our hotel and had taken showers, we walked the short distance to a local restaurant for dinner – we had to cross a major street in the process: Gerry: C’mon, Jan, keep moving …there’s a car coming. Jan: I AM moving. Gerry: Yeah, when compared to a tree. : )
We have designated today a recovery day. The sun is shining brightly, so we do plan to go do some stuff, but we’ll try to keep it low impact. Wish you all were here with us …..