…We left Raglan and it felt as if we were leaving a part of our home there; We didn’t plan to stay four days but it was nice to feel like we were at home somehow.
So there we were, on the road again heading South.
FIRST STOP: TAUPO
Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake and also a center of volcanic, geothermal activity and hot springs
In the northeast part of the lake discharges the Waikato River flowing over one of NZ’s most spectacular waterfalls: Huka Falls. We kept following the river by foot for two hours and noticed that the water was so clear and the landscape so peaceful that it generated a great contrast against the motorway passing a few meters away.
It was amazing to think that we were 5 minutes from “a big city” and surrounded by so much nature.
Thanks to the area’s geography we were able to take a very relaxing hot bath at one of the hot pools situated somewhere around the lake.
Hmmm! Such a great idea :)
But laying around in hot tubs isn’t the only thing we’ve done these days! It was just an exception to charge batteries for the next day, as we were going to hike up the Tongariro.
NEXT STOP: TONGARIRO
Tongariro is a compound volcano in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Its elevation is 1,978m.
We had not spoke to anyone about our plan or asked for any advice (wrong!). So there we were, alone in the middle of the Tongariro’s National Park, after an energetic breakfast at the van ready to reach the top!
The walk was incredible as it goes across completely different landscapes and wildlife. We could see the snow at the top of the mountain and smelt the sulfur that was getting out of the craters. We definitely wanted to see the Emmerald lakes at the top, they have an intense turquoise color because of the reaction with the sulfur.
The way kept getting more covered with snow as we approached the summit, to the point were we couldn’t see the path anymore; our feet began to get wet and the path very slippery. We could not continue… we were close to the top but the weather was getting worse and the situation risky.
Then, we decided to stop and go backwards.
We will be back during summer. For sure!
All things considered it had been an incredible 5h walk to the 1500m top and once at the van it began to rain a lot, so we took a good decision.
Tongariro: we will be back, promised!
BTW, Tongariro is MORDOR. We just found out about this as we were leaving the mountain, double the excitement.
1st SEPTEMBER – MORNING – WELLINGTON
We woke up at the capital after driving almost 3 hours after our hike. It was a rainy day and we got a bit depressed so went to the museum to see the stuffed body of the giant squid found on 2008, one of the biggest ever founded.
We were supposed to meet a friend after lunch, so bought some beers and went to his place. He and his roommates invited us to take a shower(hot shower finally! And without paying for minutes!), dinner and great conversation as well. All of them were foreigners living in NZ and explained their adventures. We slept there (first night without getting frozen while peeing in the middle of the night outside the van!)
The weather was a little better the next morning. We booked a ferry towards south island departing at midday so that we could walk around the city before getting there.
Arriving at the South Island by boat was one of the most incredible things we’ve ever seen. The ocean got suddenly calm due to the endless number of fjords and micro islands that the ferry goes through before getting to Picton. So suddenly we were on a calm sea, floating through the fog like discovering a new world.
We got out of the ferry (with our Dora) and hit the road for 2 hours towards Nelson where we slept like babies.
1st DAY AT THE SOUTH
Nelson is a city on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, and the oldest one in the South Island.
We left the city early and drove to the Tasman National Park. Its beauty is unique because it’s located between the Golden Bay and the Tasman Bay.
That really was incredible. We walked watching the sunset on low tide and discovered deserted beaches where we could swim. It definitely is the best part of being in winter. There is nobody, just us and the landscape. I have never had this feeling before and it is definitely indescribable.
That night we slept with another perspective of what we are living, such a great experience.
The next morning the sun rose clear (finally! No more clouds). A very interesting thing about being in an island is how unpredictable the weather is; it changes every 5 minutes (literally!).
We decided to drive the extra hours and get to the very end of the peninsula. To Wharariki Beach specifically.
It was there where we had, again, the most incredible feeling in a very long time (two in one week!). Turns out that after crossing a huge green field we got on to an enormous deserted beach. The sand was clear and the rocks situated in the middle of the beach majestic.
While walking we heard some splashing, and there they were, a group of baby seals playing. We could not believe it. We were alone in the middle of nowhere watching seals playing.
We stood there for one hour just looking at them. In complete silence.
The road continues to the south!