Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Taupo to Tongariro

Dec. 6, 2012

Taupo is on, of course, Lake Taupo – the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and possibly in the southern hemisphere, and, according to what I read, the same size as Singapore. 

Taupo has wonderful public trashcans, recycle bins, and storm sewer emblems.  And the library has some fabulous Maori carvings.

And Taupo has all kinds of outdoor activities – river rafting, skydiving, bungee jumping – but not much to do on a rainy day.  The rainy weather has been following us around New Zealand.  Seriously, we hear that a location has nice weather.  We head there, and have maybe one beautiful afternoon.  Next day, major rain and wind and colder temperatures than they had the previous week.  (At least we aren’t being followed by the natural disasters – when we were up north, Mt. Tongariro erupted unexpectedly.  Now that we’re in the Tongariro area, Auckland had a tornado.  The weather is crazy.)

So, in keeping with our usual policy, a rainy day turned into some internet time and then driving time.  We headed south along the east side of Lake Taupo, on highway 1 to Turangi, then south a bit more (I think to Rangipu - it's difficult to tell because there are towns that aren't on the map, and some of the towns named on the map don't seem to exist!) – and then headed west on the Tongariro Crossing, which is highway 46.  It’s also a famous trek, where people hike across the northern part of the volcanic plateau and climb a few summits along the way – something like a 7 mile trek – there’s no way we’ll even think about doing something like that in the rain.

We were trying to reach the Tongariro National Park, but the wind and rain got the better of us.  We found a quiet little holiday park, and we’re settled in under a pine tree, plugged into the power, and watching birds dig up bugs and worms in the rain.  A few quails have come by, but mostly sparrows, wrens, starlings.  I’ll keep an eye out for kiwi birds, though, tonight – haven’t seen one of those yet. (This morning we saw a very small bird with a fan tail – just a little wren-like bird, but with a huge fanned out tail of little brown and white feathers!  And the previous day, I swear a parrot flew by – large bird with various parts in red, green, blue, and black – a crazy quilt of a bird!)  (And why doesn't Taupo have a trash can with a bird design on it???) 

So, we probably will use the comforters and sleeping bags tonight – it’s going to be a cold one!

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