The route was the familiar one, north on highway 1 (a motorway until Mana) and now a road, that in spite of twists and turns that terrified me on first passage, a seemingly straight and wide highway! This time, with my new photo memory I had a chance to take a few more photos on the way. We stopped in Levin for breakfast and so I took that symbol of Scots dominance, the local railway station which wears a kilt.
We felt that we had time to dawdle and so we stopped a few times. The first stop was at a sheepskin factory-- but like most things in New Zealand we found the products of relatively poor craftsmandhip and rather dear. Our next stop was at an apiary where we bought some honey. The scene across the road was fairly typical of the area north of Levin.
From there we drove fairly directly (coffee at Tiahape, the "Gumboot Capital of the World"), through Waiouru, past the bridge at Rangiwai (rangi==weeping, wai==water) where the tragic train accident occurred, through Ohakune and on past National Park and our friends at Mountain Air to the small town of Whakapapa on the lower slopes of Ruapehu. Here we stayed at the Chateau -- a fairly nice place (and one which Christine adapted to immediately -- fortunately we are not able to find many like this).
However, before checking in we took a little stroll. This was a short 2 hour walk over the lower reaches of Ruapehu to Wai???? falls. The view of Ruapehu as we started the walk was somewhat obscured by cloud, but nevertheless awesome. In the foreground are the ski chalets that are fully booked in the winter months (that is, June, July and August).
Our stroll took us north over a couple of small valleys. Directly ahead of us was tomorrow's target, Ngauruhoe , also shrouded in clouds. Looking backwards, to the south, I saw clear skies and the Chateau, as well as a fellow tramper.
The trail led to an ascending walk along the stream which led to the falls. First we came across a lower cascade . Then we came to the falls themselves. While not overly high or mighty they were impressive and did have the feature that you could walk behind them. Behold the maid in the mist or her tramping companion . But it was time to leave the valley and mounting to the top of the falls we once again beheld Ruapehu , even more cloud enshrouded, and, looking the other way we saw the valley we had been walking in.
Back to Whakapapa, it was time to check into the Chateau, have a nap and go down to dinner. Can this bejwelled beauty be the same person that a couple of hours ago was tramping the lower reaches of Ruapehu? The paintingis of ice on a lake that disappeared in an eruption of 1886. Our waitress took this dinner setting . Then it was on to the pool table where Christine showed me how she spent her youth. And does the winner gloat!
And so, completely humiliated by a woman's skill at the pool table, to bed.