(To) The North Island

1/2 Saling day in Akaroa! We met with Paul again, we had plans to sail. But unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side. No wind at all… We had lunch first and decided to try to sail anyway. But we ended up using the engine and explore Akaroa bay like that. Not what we had in mind, but we made the best out of it and had a relaxing, sunny day. We went out for an unforgettable diner afterwards and I got my badly wanted chocolate mousse again 🙂 and the nightly rum & talk was also very enjoyable. Luckily nobody had to drive afterwards.
2/2 Went out for breakfast with Paul, said goodbye again and we were back on the road. We drove all the way past Kaikoura and slept somewhere at Shag Point, near Kekerenge
3/2 More driving today. To Picton. Ready for the ferry to Wellington. The ferry takes you through the Marlborough Sounds first, which makes for some very nice pictures. Then theres another 2,5h traveling time. In the ferry lounge, a music band called Mamaku started playing. Really… Their music reminded me of Zaz. I was very happy with them playing. Time went by much quicker that way. Then Wellington, we explored it by motorhome. (It’s just a city after all). We zigzagged through it. We looked for a sleeping place north of Wellington and found us a place at a parking lot near the ocean. But a kiwi couple arrived there too and told us they knew a better place. So after dinner we followed them and acknowledged they were right 🙂
4/2 I went for a little run on the beach. My first one. Before leaving. Belgium I thought I’d do this quite often, but the opposite is true. We bought groceries and drove to Tongariro, where I was gonna walk (no, run) the famous Tongariro Crossing the day after.
5/2 Tongariro Alpine Crossing! It’s everything they say it is, and even more. It’s a walk through an active volcanic area. With amazing views. And with mount Ruapeha, aka LOTR’s Mount Doom, being one of the attractions. It’s supposed to be a 6,5h walk, and if you climb Mount Doom that makes for another 3h. But I knew the NZ (or doc) timings already (they always overestimate the walks) and wanted a bigger challenge so I ran it. All the flat and downhill parts that is (I’m not totally nuts yet). But the climbing of Mount Doom, man, I must say, that’s the real work. No path, it’s steep, and sometimes more like rock climbing. And on the gravel it’s even worse. Each 50cm step you take you go down with the gravel 20 cm… But it was worth it. I saw the inside of mount doom and it wasn’t foggy or misty. I got lucky. And going down in that gravel was… big fun! When mount doom was finished I continued the walk/the run. I was 45′ from the end when my knee started aching. My good old runners knee again, I almost forgot about it. Anyway I finished all in 5 hours 15 minutes and that was the last thing I did that day.
6/2 Today was Waitangi day. The day the Maori signed the treaty in 1840 with the arriving English. In Taupo here was a little festival held for that. A stage with a band playing and some food stalls around a terrain of grass with people sitting everywhere, mostly Maori. There we saw for the first time the way Maori greet each other: they join noses and foreheads… We spent some time at the festival in the sun. And I had a hangi meal there. That is a traditional Maori made meal. It’s made in a big hole in the ground, about 1 cubic meter big, like an oven. And everything is cooked there together for a huge amount of people. It was meat and potatoe and pumpkin. Quite good. After, we went to the Huka falls (more like Huka super rapids), where a massive amount of water needs to get through a 10m small rocky passway. And the other thing we did today was walk in a geothermal fairy like valley, with steaming clouds coming from the ground here and there. We ended our day taking a thermal bath/hot pool in Wairakei Terraces. Soooo relaxing. But I really missed my favorite relaxing center in Gent, Sauna Asanti. Nostalgic moment.
7/2 The Wairakei Terraces were close to a geothermal power plant. That was what we went to look at first today. Interesting… Then we did a moon crater walk, to again see some geothermal activities in another environment. And next was Orakei Koraki, our third and best (and most expensive) site where geothermal activities could be seen. It was nice but by now we’ve had enough of geothermal volcanic thingies… We drove to Rotorua where my parents had another thermal hot pool bath while I booked my flight ticket out of Tasmania. So yes, I decided, I am going to Tasmania!

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