On the road again

After my longest stay in a single place since…probably March (!!), I have put Ohakune in my rear-view mirror and started my travels once again. While I generally try not to repeat spots too much, I simply hadn’t spent much time in Taupo the two times I passed through. And something was pulling me here, both times through it just ‘felt’ like a great spot.

Taupo has a couple other things going for it that I like, simply past the ‘feel’. It’s both a small town and yet has a thriving tourism economy, so there are lots of shops and competition, keeping prices lower. It’s got great scenery, which I’ll be exploring over the next few days here. Finally, free camping is in abundance, with the best spot being less than 5km outside of town along the Huka river. It’s a beautiful spot and where I’ll be parking my car for the night during my stay here. Summer is nearly here so camping shouldn’t be a cold experience anymore. This will in effect save me $20+/night, which will help stretch that old budget just a little further. I only have one hurdle there to still overcome – cooking and food. While I’ve had a gas cooker and propane tank for quite some time, I still have no pots/pans to use. I’ve bought a set online (used), now it’s just a wait and see for when it might arrive in the mail. And then I’ll be able to enjoy instant noodles, rice and sausages, and many other exciting meals out in the wilds of New Zealand. I for one can’t wait! Until then, I’ll just have to hike to keep myself busy. And maybe jump off high platforms or something exciting…:D

Around the Mountains

While there is a difficult 4-5 day hike called ‘Round the Mountain’, which takes you all the way around Mt. Ruapehu, I wasn’t going to be trying that hike during my stay here. Instead, I opted to hop in the car and see a few things in the region I had yet to see and circle the three major mountains on the North Island – the weather was beautiful and I was hankering for a hike. I ended up doing 5.

The circuit of driving was about 200km – this is a BIG area. My first stop was the hike to Lake Rotokuru. Unlike the rest of my hikes today, this was a lush green forested area.

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The Surprise was the difficulty

I had originally wanted to do this on my birthday or Halloween, but I was working for one and the weather was dreadful for the other. So I started the hike to Lake Surprise on a somewhat cloudy day a few days into November with hopes that the hike would prove to be a good one. It had been talked up quite a bit by my bosses, who really enjoyed the hike last summer. I think summer might have been key.

This was the view from my start point, near the Turoa ski area on Mt. Ruapehu. I was just below the snow line, at least what remains of it at this time. This was going to be a different hike, being on a volcanic mountainside and completely open to everything.

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Nearing the end

I’ve reached my ‘minimum’ 4 week stay here in Ohakune, and had planned to stay until November 6th, the end of ski season. My boss asked me to extend that until November 10th to help out during a busy week, and I’ll stay until then. The reason? A little movie production called ‘The Hobbit’ is coming to town…

In addition to that neato bit coming up, November should be a very busy and exciting month. If you’ve been getting bored by the lack of adventure activities that I’ve done in October…that will change in November! I think I’ll be camping and hostelling it for the month, and hope to finish off several areas – namely Rotorua, Taupo, Hamilton and Coromandel. There are some pretty big things I’ve got set up in those cities – white water rafting, sailing, surfing, hiking, going to the dentist, jet-boating, high-ropes…and quite a bit more that you’ll have to wait to see. 😉

Spent my Halloween today working during the morning, and snowboarding in the afternoon. The mountain probably only has about 1/3 the runs left at this point, mostly in the higher parts. Lots of the snow is disappearing quickly now! I still would like to get up once more before the mountain is closed, but that is very much weather dependent. I’ve also got a couple of hikes that I’d like to do, and time is getting short for the good weather to show up!

Happy Halloween to everyone back home!

More fun with Viaducts

Bored by viaducts? TOO BAD! I wanted to finish off the Old Coach Road, so I walked it starting from the other end and went to the halfway mark, roughly. That way I will have seen everything the trail has to offer, just split over 2 days. This one had some more viaducts for me to enjoy. They are neat from an engineering perspective, okay? Maybe I should become a Civil Engineer, that was my 2nd choice for engineering careers way back when I had the option of what field to go into. Chemical, Civil and Materials engineering were my top 3. I’m pretty sure I had Electrical dead last. One reason was because Electrical had 3 full years of Calculus instead of 2. Nooooooooo thank you!

Anyways, back to the joys of hiking. 🙂 The day still wasn’t overly pleasant but that didn’t deter me. My time in the region is winding down and I want to make sure to hit the trails I want before I go!

No rain this morning meant the trail wasn’t a muddy mess this time, allowing me to make better time than yesterday. I still made lots of stops for pictures, like here, with a small waterfall in the background.

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To the Viaduct!

At one end of Ohakune is the Old Coach Road. This was a road built in the early 1900s to facilitate transit, especially via horse. The road was made using cobblestone and crossed in front of Mt. Ruapehu.

The Old Coach Road has a pretty amusing history – it was completed in 1906…and pretty much made obsolete in 1908 when the railway was finished nearby. Freight was no longer taken via horse through the area, it all moved with trains. The nice thing is, to build the railroad through this area, a large viaduct was required. That was my goal for the hike, the Hapuawhenua Viaduct, a major engineering feat in 1908. The entire Old Coach Road hike is about 5 hours, one way. I just did the viaduct and back, about a 3 hour round trip.

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After over 3 weeks of waiting, FINALLY a truly fantastic day arrived here in Ohakune.

By the time I got to the top of the lifts, the last remaining clouds had disappeared and nothing but blue skies and sunshine remained. Very little wind made this a perfect snowboarding day. The owner of the motel I’m working at, Donald, came up with me to offer some pointers for the first little bit of the day before going off to the advanced stuff. His advice was very good – lots of improvement today!

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Much Better!

After far too many days of rain, the last 2 days saw….well more rain. BUT, Ruapehu was open for skiing/snowboarding. The conditions weren’t great, but the winds were calm and it had decent visibility. And best of all for me, being middle of the week there were very few people.

Yesterday was my 3rd (half) day on the slopes, and I FINALLY got over the barrier of doing proper turns (rather just going via heels or toes) and navigating slopes in the green areas. Such a good feeling to be able to make full turns and not just go down hills via digging my heels in. Proper snowboarding, here I come!

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