23.06.2012 - 24.06.2012
After a morning stroll around Rotorua's very picturesque lakefront walk in the mildly sulphurous air its back on the bus to head towards Taupo on the shore on New Zealands largest lake.
Outside of Rotorua we pass through a large area of geothermal activity where a significant amount of power is generated. Next stop en route is a hot sulphurous mud pool where the popping of the heavy mud is accompanied by large amounts of steam and occasional photogenic patterns in the muds surface.
During the last few days there had been much talk of the forthcoming adrenalin fuelled adventures and, due to its reputedly fantastic scenery from great heights, the Fool had decided to try a tandem freefall jump in Taupo. Unfortunately as we approached the town we received news that the weather had deteriorated and that, due to increasingly high winds, all sky based activities had been cancelled - a crushing disappointment and yet quite a relief too.
Onwards into the Taupo area where we encounter the powerful Huka Falls.
Although only 11 metres high these falls focus the mighty Waikato River into a channel about 20 metres wide resulting in a powerful and fast flow which, every three seconds, delivers enough water to fill an olympic swimming pool, probably a bit quicker that Thames Water will achieve during the forthcoming 2012 games!
Whilst at the falls we are visited by our guide for tomorrows proposed Tongariro Alpine Crossing, possibly the highlight activity of the whole North Island. He explained that, with it being winter and that the route is across the mountains, the conditions can be very dangerous and can change extremely quickly - despite these warnings a show of hands revealed a 100% take up from the bus. At this point he said that he would see us very very early the next morning with a weather and status update and then he departed, presumably to prepare some ropes and sharpen the ice axes.
Safely ensconced in the new hostel its time to chow down on the cheap meal cooked by the hostel staff and to watch the last of the 3 test series between the All Blacks and the plucky Irish. As it happened this was a massively one sided affair with the Kiwis routing the Paddys, bad news for the pragmatic Karen Duffy but even worse for Lisa who had travelled to Hamilton for the game!!
Despite the impending early start Miss P leads a group of us to a new Irish pub where shots and cocktals flow, local pool experts are hustled by Sophie and the Fool, and Oily Bastard Rich focuses all of his snake-oil salesman charms on Katharina for the evening.
Returning at a modest hour the Fool climbs into his bunk only to discover a handwritten note purporting to be from his nemesis and stalker, Jessica. For full details of this "note" readers will have to trace the photo posted by Rich Brown as the whole episode still causes this scribe involuntary shudders.
Not so bright but very early next morning (5.30am) some of us have stumbled down to the lounge/kitchen to be met by our grim faced guide who advised us that, regretably, the crossing was cancelled due to 80kph winds which were expected to increase along with a deterioration in the weather during the day. Whilst some returned to bed at least those following the Euro footie had the consolation that we were able to see another live game.
Spirits suitably subdued we passed a quiet few hours until it was all aboard the skylark to drive, with an unusually quiet Miss P. to Tongariro National Park. So long Taupo, site of cancellations 2 & 3 and easily the most disappointing stop so far (and with hindsight, of the whole trip). Heres hoping that things look up when we descend on the Tongariro National Park.