Thursday, January 25, 2007
Interislander ferry, formerly The Pride of Cherbourg, leaving Picton.
Have changed my plans and headed to the north island last week. Wellington, the capital, was a huge contrast to the south island with hugh high rise blocks, tonnes of shops and people rushing around. Stayed a couple of days and checked out the botanic gardens and Te Papa, the national museum which was rather spectacular, but unfortunately the camera is holding all the photos hostage at the moment.
Bought a new camera.
Headed north to the smallest village in the world, Erua, 4 houses and a ski lodge, just down the road from a larger village strangely called National Park ( i looked at the map for ages checking the names of all the big green spaces to find National Park, before i discovered that was actually just a village and not a forest.)
Have spent a week at the lodge with Brian, Miriam and several other guests, gardening and helping to tidy up the grounds. Thoroughly enjoyed myself creating easy care areas with the team and unloading trailer loads of bark to tidy other areas.
Free time was spent on their petrol go carts, playing paintball, watching the latest films - downloaded from the net and drinking copious quantities of beer. All of which was great fun.
Had a good days trek over the Tongariro Crossing, through a group of volcanic mountains in the centre of the island, just south of lake taupo. Climbed up and up and up, through vast areas of black lava and mounds of rocks, through the fog. It got colder and windier and wetter the higher we climbed and the visibility was down to a few metres at times. Along a windswept ridge, knowing that the views were incredible, before decending down past hot pools and steaming rocky vents issuing sulphurous gasses that stank like millions of rotten eggs. Suddenly the cloud was gone and the view opened up for the way down and we could see for miles. Bare rock became tussock grass and small white daisies, changing to low scrub, into forest with tree ferns and cordylines down further into taller trees and a torrent of a stream, the path contained by huge wooden steps that were far too big to walk down, eventually ending up in a car park where a bus collected us and returned us to the lodge.
Left yesterday, feeling revitalised and ready to travel again after a few days supposed rest. Have just arrived in Auckland and the air is hot and humid, and it really feels like summer for the first time.
Thank you all for the reminders that i am halfway through my trip, time seems to be flying past and opportunities to stay keep presenting themselves with alarming frequency. Still having a ball. BIg love to you all. SAM