Monday, 4 October 2010

Been to the moon and back

5th October 2010

Weather: Very cold this morning, but getting quite hot as the day went on

MP3 track of the day: To the moon and back - Savage Garden

I had a wonderful nights sleep, so much so that I didn't want to get up into the cold morning. The bathroom was bibically cold, but that didn't matter; you see that's the thing about cold, you just put a few layers on and it's all okay ... there are only so many clothes you can take off when it's stupidly hot, without being arrested that is.

Before leaving for the day I booked myself onto 'New Zealands best one day hike', a must do according to Alex and Sarah ... the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Tomorrow I shall be walking across this national park for 8/9hrs climbing mountains and crossing the wilderness ... lovely. I was quite lucky too ... only yesterday did the prices change from the winter rate of $155 (as you need lots of equipment and a guide) to the summer rate of $55 (where I shouldn't need to hire any equipment or need a guide).

Whilst in reception I spoke to the receptionist and said what I planned to do for today including getting a bus to the Huka Falls followed by a bus to the 'Craters of the moon'. She said that I didn't need a bus as there was a lovely 1hr and 30min walk to the Huka Falls from here and the craters were only another 45 minutes after this. Great I thought as this would save me a little money.

Armed with my coat, camera, a bottle of water and a packed of Cadbury's caramel bites I went around the town of Taupo photographing it before reaching Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is big, but not on the same scale as Lake Ontario in Canada (here you can actually see the opposite shoreline). The lake is beautiful and it took a little while to photograph it.

After this I headed north up the path the receptionist recommend; it was a lovely walk and, on the way to the Huka Falls, I saw some natural hot springs. The falls were pretty impressive, though I would class them more as extreme rapid than falls. Apparently there is a tourist boat for people with a death wish (though the company advertisers it for 'thrill seekers' ... same thing in my book) that actually travels down these falls.

After spending a little time here I walked for another 45 minutes to the 'Craters of the moon' a geologists dream. The area was full of hyperactivity with loads of geological vents pouring gasses into the atmosphere. As I walked around I thought that the name, 'Craters of the Moon' didn't really describe the area. To me 'Craters of the moon' should be a desolate area of big craters (and maybe a black sky if possible) but here the area was teeming with life and activity. Not only were the vents hyperactive, but the land was covered in moss and grasses that manage to survive in this acidic environment. I thought that the area looked more like a scene out of a dinosaur film and I fully expected a miniature stegadon to walk around the corner into one of these craters. For the rest of my time here I was thinking of better names: 'the land that time forgot', 'Jurassic Park', 'Geo-tastic' ... anything but 'Craters of the moon' will do.

Once I got back to the ticket office I enquired to see if there was a bus between all the attractions within this area of Taupo; you see, besides the 'Craters of the moon' and the falls there are quite a few other attractions spread over quite a large area. One free attraction that a few people had told me about was Aratiatia rapids; a man-made set of rapids done by a dam opening it's gates only at certain times of the day. It was about a two hour walk away and I wouldn't make it in time for the next gate opening. To my relief there was a shuttle service that operated within this area, only costing $5 per ride; the ticket office called the shuttle service and the shuttle would be at the 'Craters of the moon' in about ten minutes ... brilliant, just enough time to by an ice cream and eat it.

Whilst eating my ice cream I spoke to one of the ladies who worked here and asked why it was called 'Craters of the moon' as I didn't think it resembled anything of the sort. Apparently it was because when this area erupted, due to a power station being built roughly five miles away, the craters that were created had no vegetation, the land here was barren, like the moon.

After this the shuttle bus picked me up; there were a couple of people to drop off before me and so I had a small tour of Taupo and the surrounding area. I arrived at the falls 2:02pm ... just after the gates had opened. It didn't matter to much as the gates remain open for 30 minutes, however I would have liked to see what the area looked like before the enormous amount of water flowed through. I have to say I wasn't that impressed with the rapids; I'm glad I made the effort to see the rapids as I would have been wondering what they were like if not, but I certainly wouldn't do it again.

After 20 minutes I prepared myself for the long walk back; my map said I had a 2hr walk to the Huka Falls and then another hour back to Taupo. As the time was 2:30pm I was looking at getting back at 5:30pm and I had to get food for tomorrow, eat and get to sleep as early as possible as the bus picked me up, for the Alpine Crossing, at 6:20am. I decided to frog march it back to Taupo only stopping a couple of times for water or a quick photograph.

I arrived back in Taupo at about 5:00pm and went to the local supermarket, 'count down'. I noticed that they had a loyalty card which gave you money off selected items within the store, so I picked up a leaflet to see if I could apply for one (I'm learning from my trip in Canada and my Safeway card). Within the store I purchased some chocolate, more cereal bars (as they were yummy), crisps, biscuits and drink for tomorrows hike. Today I had done about 6hrs worth of walking and so I was quite optimistic about an 8hr hike tomorrow.

I finished the day off in the internet cafe, closely followed by finding some tea. At 9pm I got my bag ready for tomorrow before I hit the sack; I was pretty tired from all of today's walking and I needed to rest up for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Toodle Pip!

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