Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tongariro National Park & Central Plateau

Continuing with the catch up...

A while back, over Queen's Birthday long weekend, Shannon and I went down to the Tongariro National Park, despite knowing what the weather was supposed to do. The plan was to do some hiking - possibly the Tongariro Crossing, possibly some day hikes.

Despite a fairly pleasant drive down, it turned into mostly a washout by the time we got there. Over the course of the weekend, we never saw any of the three mountains there (Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe), even driving halfway up one. But, on Saturday, before retiring to a lovely fireplace and wine, we managed to swing a run out to Tawhai Falls during a break in the weather.

After a lovely evening at the fireplace, we did try to go for a more substantial hike. It was absolutely pissing down for the duration, so we didn't go as far as we had planned, but did make it to Taranaki Falls before deciding that coffee was more interesting than a march in the rain.

It's funny how fast the weather can change in the mountains. You can probably speculate where we had been before crashing these people's lunch, and the weather was just fine.

Onward to the town of Turangi, where we stayed in a fairly eccentric fishing cottage. The whole area is apparently great for trout fishing. Lovely rivers to go stand around in, if nothing else.

This also allowed us to get a quick stop at the south end of Lake Taupo, which was quite lovely.

On Monday though, we most likely hit the best part of the journey, most unexpectedly. We wound up at the Tokaanu Hot Pools. Now, while there is a commercially developed set of pools, there is also a DOC area right behind it with a little loop through some pretty active geothermal areas. There is tepid water, bubbling mud, tar pits, and even little geysers. Our understanding is that this land is still owned by local Maori tribes, and someone has built a rather sweet tub system fed by a geyser.

I'd try to describe it more, but I really think the video will do it better justice.

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