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Day 14 – Napier to Ohakune

October 29, 2012

So our journey today took us through the Esk Valley to Taupo a distance of 136k (circa 90mls). As usual we drove through some stunning scenery as we journeyed. Our first stop off was for coffee about halfway to Taupo and at the entry to the town of Tarawera. The views from this cafe were superb and the coffee only cost just over £2 each – not bad for a place that has no competition!!

We arrive in Taupo around mid-day with the sun beaming down though a little breezy and the temperature averaged around 24c. Lake Taupo is the biggest lake in Australasia and is apparently the size of Singapore and is known for its trout fishing (though I didn’t sample any as this is one of the few fish I’m not keen on). The town itself is very modern with some fantastic housing which have unbelievable views of not only the lake but also the mountains of the Hauhungaroa Range which still have snow on them (I’ll say a little more about these later) and the Tongariro National Park both of which we get up to close later in our journey.

We enjoyed lunch overlooking the lake and once again decided to sample the fish platter though it was a little disappointing as the prawns, scallops and white fish were all done in breadcrumbs – nevertheless there were tasty along with the mussels. The picture opposite is the view from the cafe – not bad eh!

After a little bit of exploring and of course the inevitable window shopping we started off on the second leg of our journey which was to take us along the shore line of Lake Taupo for around 35k before turning inland and through Tongariro National Park. This was NZ’s first and the world’s fourth national park and is one 3 NZ heritage sites. It was established in 1887 and has in it three mountains; Mt Ruapehu (2797m), Mt Tongariro (1968m) and Mt Ngauruhoe (2290m). Mt Ruapehu is the most active of the park’s volcanoes with the last eruption being in 2007 along with a small earthquake.

At one of the photo stops I got chatting with a guy whose job it is to drive around the national park and empty the litter bins. He appears to love his job and who can blame him when you get to work in such a fabulous locality. He was very informative and gave us a few tips of places we could stop off and he said today was a good day for taking photos because of the high cloud level and blue skies with sun.

As we drove through the national park and around the base of this range of mountains the views were spectacular and you will see in the picture opposite that one of the volcanoes was releasing quite a large amount of smoke. We were pleased we were some way away from this!!!

Alongside this was Mt Ruapehu with about a third of it still covered in snow. What an awesome sight and again evidence of Gods incredible creation. So after stopping numerous times to take more photographs we eventually arrived at our final destination – Ohakune!

Our guides inform us that Ohakune has a population of around 1100 and is known as the carrot capital of NZ!! Now I bet that’s something you didn’t know! Every year they hold a Carrot Carnival – shame we missed it as they hold it at the beginning of October lol! There’s not much more to say about this town other than it is very peaceful and we are in a lovely park with our pitch being right next to a lovely fast flowing stream. The air is punctuated with the songs of birds, the breeze blowing through the tree tops and of course the sound of the flowing water – very relaxing at the end of another outstanding journey.

Tomorrow we take ourselves off to the cultural capital of NZ – Wellington where we will stay for a few days before taking the ferry to the South Island to begin the second phase of our holiday in NZ. Everyone we have spoken to prior to coming out here and local people say it will surpass what we have seen here in the North Island – I’d better start learning some new ways to describe that experience then!!

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