Highlights this posting: A major tourist attraction. Thousands per day climb and cross over Tongariro Crossing, drawn by the fascination of live volcanoes, the challenge of the steep climb, the strange beauty of moonscape like craters and emerald green coloured lakes. A major tourist attraction and a Te Araroa Trail highlight for us.
Being spoilt by our lovely Taranaki friends, Dave and Kerry Lilley has also been a highlight. They decided that we deserved spoiling so joined us for two nights at Whakapapa Village and walked Tongariro Crossing with us. Their beautiful food, their selection of wine and their company were kindnesses that ‘fed us’ for days and will continue to do so.
Taumaranui to Whanganui
Taumaranui to freedom camp on 42 Traverse: With new boots for John and with rested feet, leaving Taumaranui on a beautiful sunny day felt very good indeed. Drawing closer to the National Park, glorious mountains came into view. So too did a great little coffee shop at Owhango (pronounced Ofango), 39 South where delicious food, coffee and conversation with Nigel and Jaquie, cycling Te Araroa from Auckland.
42 Traverse is a grade III cycling track, rough in gradient after years of weather and constant traverse. Young quad bike and motor bike riders tore past us, daredevils with little care for damage to track.
Freedom camping on 42 Traverse to Tongariro National Park
Dragonflies on 42 Traverse and Waione Cokers Track seemed infinitely curious about us. They hovered, they hitchiked and found John to be the most interesting.
Notes from the trail: The clouds were wonderful in the evening sky. We are camped between 2 steep hills clothed in fern frongs on the Waione Cokers Track. But above the tree line, the sky is a stretched canvas where clouds on varying levels and movement, play their dance and with setting sun, highlight the crest. The river gurgles and tumbles quadraphonically; our camp is almost an island in its swift flowing curve. We crossed the river earlier. Tonight we celebrate 1100kms. All feels well, we are blessed.
Tongario National Park – stunning in mountain vista.
We were thrilled to have Dave and Kerry join us for 2 nights and to do some tramping on the TA trail; the Tongariro Crossing. They came bearing beautiful home cooked food and wines (in memory of previous travel in Asia, where beautiful Australian red wines were superior in comparison to the ‘weasel piss’ (Dave’s term) on offer.) Grey Label Shiraz was such a treat along with Dave’s (freshly collected mussels from the beach near their Bach in Oakura) mussel patties, gourmet pizzas and Kerry’s mini rhubarb crumbles. Eggs Bennedict for breakfast on the morning we parted. They felt we needed spoiling. We heartily agreed!
How to describe Tongariro Crossing? Awesome. Storms were forecast in the afternoon of our Alpine crossing which may have deterred more tourists. We were not hindered by a constant trail of walkers. Including a lunch and rest break we took 5.75hours to walk the Crossing. Rain and mist arrived as we were descending which we decided was ok. We had experienced the splendour of the Crossing in fine weather. Let the photos following tell their own story.
Whakapaiti – Maungahuia Track to The National Park Village YH. With the warmth of kind friendship in mind and heart, embracing the trail from Whakapapa was sunny, also beautiful in scenery; initially in pretty bush and views of Mt Ruapehu. The trail across bog was wetter in part but changed closer to our day’s end. Crossing the Redoubt trail with stories of Maori battles was historically interesting. Views of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu from the YH at The National Park village were awe inspiring. I might be height challenged when up on a mountain but I love to be in and looking at mountain views. Makes my heart soar.
John’s foot still giving him grief but he soldiers on!
The National Village to Whanganui
Having decided not to canoe the Whanganui River (John did not want to risk grief to his back. Canoeing or kayaking after 2 hours can cause problems for him) we took the alternative route to the start of the Whanganui River Road at Pipiriki via Raeithi. Much road walking entailed but as we’ve so often found, kind and helpful people crossed our path, making the journey interesting and pleasant. We particularly enjoyed staying at Sandy and Dan’s Snowy Waters in Raeithi.
Along the Whanganui River Road our overnight stays were at the historical (but oh so restful) The Convent built in the 1890’s at Hiruharama/Jerusalem and freedom camping with wonderful travelling campers from Europe and South America. The convent was foundered by Mother Aubert whose work with local Maori, home for orphans and producer of bush medicine is historically significant. St Joseph’s church has an interesting Maori carved Alter and wonderful acoustics. Alone in the church, I sang ‘Amazing Grace’. Such a beautiful pleasure. Such Grace. The Convent was also home to one of NZ’s renowned poets James K Baxter.
Notes From The Trail
Kindness can feed the soul, the mind, the heart for a long time. Along the Whanganui River Road we continued to be blessed with people’s kindness. Marlene and Chantelle at the Matawhiwi Cafe and Gallery gave us a parting gift of home baked biscuits. Angie and Rebecca from USA stopped to offer us water and apples. Darryl at Parakino Pa who grows Nashi, called out to us offering the most delicious Nashi we’ve ever tasted. Sabina and Pierre from Germany and travelling around NZ whom we met at Otumaire Campsite, wanted to give us food or oil or spices…all of which we already had. Many offers of lifts too…we say ‘to Wellington?’ and of course, said with tongue in cheek. An explanation of our trail soon has them offering words of encouragement and good cheer in lieu of a lift.
Whanganui: we arrived tired. The last four days saw us walking up to 28kms a day which is so tiring on legs and feet. John’s feet (the other foot has a blister) continue to be a problem but still he soldiers on. We hope three nights stay here will help.
Quite like the feel of Whanganui. Not so much for the landscape (although the river is far prettier in the city than along the Whanganui River Road) but for the lovely old buildings; survivours of earthquake and condemnation lend a gentle fading, refined Colonial air.
326kms to go to our destination of Wellington…feet, knees and God willing.