To the top of a volcano

Taupo is a city next to Lake Taupo – a big volcanic crater lake. I didn’t end up doing much in Taupo. I only stayed there for one night. I couldn’t book any other accommodation because there was a sporting event and everything was booked out.

 

I decided to make the most of my day and visited Huka Falls (a cool waterfall, video above) and later soaked my feet in a hot water spring. It was quite nice actually and the water at the Thermal Spa Park was much warmer than I expected. If you stay too long in it your skin becomes red – just like when having a hot bath. It was interesting because I’ve never seen a natural hot spring before in my life. If possible check this place out for yourself, you won’t regret it.

I spent the rest of the day in my hostel with Olivia (Switzerland). Turns out she was also into Latin dancing and we had a lot to talk about. I think I ignored Olivia’s friend who was sitting next to her a bit too much (I don’t remember her name, but she was Dutch). The Dutch girl must have felt so left out that she gave me her alarm clock so I’d set it up for her… and talk to her too. I felt special.

I took the bus to Turangi the next day. It’s a small town on the southern side of Lake Taupo. On my first day there was a big rugby event in a nearby park with more than 1000 people. I checked it out and enjoyed some live music. I didn’t care about rugby but the music was quite nice. Not a bad day at all.

The reason why I went to Turangi was to get closer to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing walk. It’s described as New Zealand’s best one day walk.

Due to bad weather I had to wait one day in the hostel. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 20km walk and it’s quite miserable on rainy days.  That day I played the guitar like the Beatles never did. I was on fire!!!

The weather forecast was much better for the next day. The following day Ian (the hostel manager) took me with about ten other backpackers to the car park where the walk started. It was dark and cold and 5AM.

The beginning of the walk wasn’t anything special. I saw a small waterfall and some volcanoes in the distance. Later the path started to go up the mountain/volcano. It was a much harder climb than I expected. It was cold and very windy. The highest point of the walk was about 2000m.

At one point the wind got so strong it was difficult to stand up. Visibility was two meters because I entered a cloud. It was a bit scary – I was freezing and wanted to get out of that place as fast as possible. The problem was that I didn’t see any of the guiding sticks with the arrows on them which would tell me whether I was on the right path or not. For a while I thought the weather gods have turned on me. I kept walking even though I wasn’t sure if I was moving in the right direction. One thing was sure – I did not want to stay in that cloud. Here’s what it looked like up there:

Yeah, they don’t put weather and sights like that on postcards.

Luckily I found my way back on the track and soon enough was out of that cloud. I was greeted by b.e.a.utiful views of the volcanoes and lakes in the volcanic crater. I forgot how miserable I was just moments ago and just stood there admiring the view. It was so beautiful. Sadly my pictures didn’t capture the beauty of the surroundings. You have to be there to appreciate the view.

Yes, I know. My commentary is to die for. So much passion in every sentence… you can tell I’m a real expert mountaineer.

I touched the water in the lakes but to my disappointment it was cold. There were a bunch of signs in the area warning about volcanic hazards. The last eruption was on Aug 6th 2012 and there was still some smoke coming out of the side of a volcano. Pretty cool! I loved it.

 Ivar the Alpinist

 

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