9pm National Park Village backpackers
The Bro has arrived!
I met with Chris at Taramanui bus stop yesterday in the baking afternoon heat. The handshakes were firm as this long anticipated momentous meeting of the brethren was realised with the clasp of flesh derived from our closely shared ancestry (one considerably more tanned than the other).
Despite his pasty appearance he looked in good shape and ready for action. We were crammed into the packed bus and on our way to National Park (sibling reunion momentarily suspended by crazy moment of joint recognition with the girl who’d lent me her laptop in Clevedon).
Chris is staying in backpacker dorm and I’ve got a tent pitch. Had a good catch up including the inevitable what are you carrying in your pack and do you really need it.
National Park really geared up for tourists as you’d expect, lots of accommodation, cafés, bars etc. This backpacker’s seem to do everything and have sorted out Tongariro crossing for tomorrow and 4 day round mountain following day!
Went for a walk and found somewhere suitable for our first joint placement of Dads shirt.
This morning we had to be ready for Tongariro Crossing bus at 7.15am. This was a completely alien days walking to what I’ve been used to. Driven to trail and finding not only the busload you came with you there was already a crowd waiting to start plus more and more buses pulling up behind you. A continuous line of people were already on the trail. This was not going to be an isolated away from it all walk! Weather was looking a bit suspect and we couldn’t see tops of the volcanoes as we joined the conveyor belt of NZs greatest one day walk pilgrims! Strikingly attired in our Cancer Research T shirts Chris and I set us off at his pace and it was pleasant enough chatting to people we met, taking photos on each others behalf and enjoying the views (especially of the statuesque blonde German girls Chris somehow managed to maintain pace with! Alas this added attraction evaporated when they decided it was too cold in their short shorts and turned back).
It was getting cold and the wind really whipped up as we climbed into the mist and cloud, people were pinning themselves behind rocks to shelter and one poor kid was hanging on to his dad for dear life. After my goose bumps got goose bumps I covered my T-shirt over with my coat.
Thankfully the veiling skies momentarily lifted and we saw stunning glimpses of tortured rocks outcrops and the full scale of this volcanic desolation where man didn’t seem to belong (despite half of NZ population seemingly visiting on this day).
We stopped fairly regularly but not for long, mainly as you got cold but also encouraged not to linger in this active volcanic area. Quite a few people struggling to deal with slopes and conditions and had to feel sorry for them. Chris coping admirably and whizzed past me on a steep downhill with the worlds shortest trekking poles ( even when fully extended are not long enough for him)!
Some unique scenery and features plus spectacular panoramic views when the skies permitted made this a spectacular walk and I concede justify its “great walk” label.
Timing it to perfection we reached the 19.4km trail end just before 3pm and eventually found right bus amongst the milling hoards
Spent this evening shopping eating and planning our time. At moment we are looking to get to canoe 3 days down Whanganui river after doing the round the mountain. Then cycle from Wanganui town to Palmerston North (2 days) then walk 4 to 6 days in Tararuas before hopefully getting to Wellington before Chris has to get home. Best laid plans eh?
Will be out of circulation for few days dear reader so please bear with me!