Saturday, February 19, 2005

Wanaka... again 

Well, Taranaki was quite good. Very muddy, but good. I did the circuit around the mountain, which goes in and out of gorges as you pass over the ridges radiating out from the mountain. It was up and down ladders, steps, ropes, muddy slopes for most of one day. At one point I went up what was like a spiral staircase made out of tree roots. That part of New Zealand(around New Plymouth) had far less tourists than the other parts I've been to. I stayed in two huts on the Taranaki circuit, and both times I was completely alone in the hut, the only time that has happened. The weather was pretty good, cloudy at times, but I've come to expect that. I haven't had three days in a row of good weather since I've been here, but I haven't had three days of bad weather(except for the beginning) either.

From there I went to Wellington, where it was pouring rain(I was due, apparently). I couldn't get on a ferry, because, well, because I hadn't booked ahead, but also because one of the ferries was taken out of service and there was this huge backlog of people trying to get across. This made me stay a day in Wellington, which wasn't so bad, it's a very nice city. I liked it much more than Auckland. The next day I still couldn't get a ferry, so I called up the Wellington-Picton flight service and they got me on the last flight of the day. It only cost about $30(NZ) more than the ferry, and it was a very intersting experience. It was a 14 seat plane, with one of the passengers sitting in the co-pilots seat. The views were great, and we came into a tiny little strip near picton on what was certainly the steepest landing approach I've ever been on.

From there it was on to St.Arnaud, a town that barely exists, to do a hike in the Nelson Lakes National Park. I did the first day in pouring rain(time again, apparently), past roaring streams and waterfalls. The weather got better, and I stayed two nights at the Lake Angelus hut. The first night there were five Israelis and about five others there. The second night there were about twenty Israelis and five others. Lying on a bunk in a hut in the New Zealand mountains listening to twenty Israelis carrying on a loud and energetic conversation in Hebrew is a surreal experience.

From there I went down the west coast, where the weather was actually pretty good, even though it's supposed to be the rainiest place in New Zealand. I stayed in Punakaiki, another place that barely exists. It was rather idyllic actually. It would have been nice if I'd had more time... and if they had a grocery store there. I went from there to Franz Josef glacier, a very busy tourist destination, where I did a very touristy thing and went on a guided glacier walk. It was good, if a bit expensive($135NZ). We walked through all sorts of crevasses and ice caves. I don't think I'd want to do it for more than a day, it begins to seem all the same after a while.

I am now in Wanaka, which I remember from my last trip. The weather here is fantastic, hopefully it holds for a few days, as I am travelling up the Matukituki valley for three days.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Taranaki Ho 

Well, the weather turned out quite well for the Tongariro crossing. A good hike, but not very challenging. Rather touristy, in fact. One woman I talked to wondered why they couldn't provide water up at the crossing. I said the water in the area was all poisonous, so they'd have to run pipes and such up there. She said, "so?" Some people don't quite get the concept. I don't really love the volcanic environment, but one day was good.

I went on to New Plymouth, a nice town in the Taranaki district, which is much less touristy than the rest of New Zealand that I've seen. I went up and did the circuit around Mt. Taranaki, an isolated volcanic cone that was used as a stand-in for Mt.Fuji in The Last Samurai. It was a good hike and the weather was mostly good, which is about the best you can hope for in New Zealand. I went in and out of gorges, going up and down a lot of ladders and steps and climbing a few ropes. I'm done with that and now I'm headed for Wellington and the South Island.

I have a lot of pictures, but I have no way to put them up right now, so that will have to wait.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Under a dark cloud 

Well, the weather has been overcast and oppressively humid for my whole time in New Zealand so far. Well, when it's not raining. I got tired of Aukland pretty quickly. I think it's a pretty nice city, but it didn't seem like much after Sydney and Melbourne. I went on to Rotorua, where I saw the Wai-o-Taupo hot springs. It was pretty good, bigger and better than the Lassen thermal area, which is similar, but it was $20 shuttle and $20 entrance, which is kind of expensive. I didn't get that much else out of Rotorua, which smells like sulpher most of the time. I did play scrabble with two Swedish girls, which was interesting.

I'm in Turangi today and I should do the Tongariro crossing tomorrow. Weather should be starting to get better, which would be nice.

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