A Travellerspoint blog

what a day for hiking

My God, I thought it rained all night and although I expected the worse for this hiking day, by the time we actually woke up at about 8 AM and I looked through the window, I noticed it is the drainpipe which is making all the watery noises. Is this a good sign!?

The sky on the other hand isn’t looking all that good and the only thing we notice, are dark clouds. It seems that we are out of luck and I am afraid that even our 1 % chance for our hike has gone into thin air so to speak. By now I am almost sure that were not going to be able to walk the Tongariro Crossing today. After breakfast we still go and ask the reception if it is possible, but nope, not a chance at all, the crossing is sadly enough closed!

Since we still wanted to go for a walk (coz what else is there to do than feeling miserable like the weather), we asked everyone who wanted to accompany us on a hike to be ready at the reception by 9 AM. Although it seemed that in the beginning not many people were interested, by the time it was 9 AM, more than a handful of people showed up, to be more precise, it were almost more than 2 handfuls.

Not able to do the crossing, we went for the next best thing and we decided to do the 6 hour walk all the way up to the Tama lakes which consisted out of a lower and an upper lake.

Leaving the hotel, we just followed the track at the parking lot and slowly walked into he NP. After a good 15 minutes we came across our first bridge (not that spectacular actually, but great for pictures) and about an hour later we even saw a huge waterfall. This was the perfect stop for our first break and as soon as we all had rested enough, it was back on track towards the lake.


The track itself went up and down a lot with quite a few steep climbs, but we all went on our own pace so it was more than doable. The thing that was the most unbearable though, was the rain and after about 2 hours walking, some of our fellow group members just quite and went back on their way towards the hotel. It is sad though, but if you are so wet and cold, I can understand that you don’t want to walk any further.

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After a good 3 hours walking, it could be less of course, I don’t know exactly, we arrived at the lower lake which had amazingly beautiful colors when the sun shined upon it, but as quick as the colors came, the quicker they were gone coz more rain was coming our way. Needless to say, by the time we wanted to eat our lunch, it rained and there was no place to hide, so the only left for us to do was to eat in the rain.


For most of our group this was a sign to head back, but 5 stupid people remained : me, Tania, Alexander, Francesca and Kelly. It seems that only us Europeans wanted to go and have a look at the upper lake.


This on itself wasn’t an easy walk. We first had to go through some bushes and then we had to undergo 2 climbs which were pretty steep and windy to say the least. More than once I thought the wind was going to pick me up and the only thing for us to do was to hide behind some rocks and seeing they weren’t always big, this became a major problem. Although the wind was bad, the rain was even worse. We had one rainshower going up hill and although it was just water, it felt like hail on your face. This was just not normal, but I have to admit, the reward of seeing the upper lake was worth it and the most important thing of them all, I climbed up a very steep hill and although not without danger, that on itself is quite a reward. I am so proud of myself!


Not wanted to linger too much up that big hill or should I say volcano, we quickly made our way down again and braved yet again another downpour. Now that we were there again, we still had one quick glance at the lower lake again and than we were on our way back towards our hotel, where we arrived about 3 hours later.

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Tired but happy that we did the walk, we heard of some people wanted to go to the spa of our hotel and although someone of our group booked a hot tub, it seemed that she already went earlier on the day, so it was there for us for the taking and something like that sounds like music into my ears.

Together with Tania and Annelou we went to the hot tub and soon even Alexander followed as well. Sadly enough there wasn't space for all of us in the hot tub, so instead of going into the water, I enjoyed the warmness of the sauna, only I don’t know if they now the concept of a sauna in NZ coz normally you sweat a lot in such an „establishment”, but here it was like sitting into the warm sun. It wasn’t hot at all and although I kept on pouring water on the stones, it just wasn’t real hot and after about a bit more than half an hour, me and Tania just left the place and went for a hot shower instead.

After rearranging our luggage it was time for dinner and this evening we decided to go along with the group and went for the BBQ dinner at the hotel. The meat wasn’t all that bad and we had a bit of warm and cold veggies as well, so all in all the perfect meal after a long day of hiking. The dessert was a welcome surprise as well and was yummy to say the least. We weren’t going to bed with an empty stomach.

I was completely knackered after a full day of hiking, taking a not so hot sauna but a very hot shower and I didn’t even mention a good meal. So it wasn’t a total surprise that I slept like a baby the minute my head touched my pillow.

Posted by Ils1976 00:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes people lake river plants friends tour hike oceania grey_weather Comments (2)

on the road again

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Sleeping in is truly a bliss and although we set our alarm clock early enough so that we still could snooze for a while, it really felt like we've died and gone to heaven. The same you could say of breakfast this morning. There was just so many hot and cold dishes that it was really difficult choosing what to eat, but as soon as I saw the pancakes, I was sold. They were just too yummie to be true.

With some food into our system, it was time to go and get our bags so that they could be stocked up in the belly of our trusty bus called Bert and exactly at 9.45 AM we left Rotorua. Our final destination this evening was going to be Tongariro NP, something I was really looking forward to visiting.

Still this is a long way from happening though, first we left for Taupo but not before we first had a little stop about 15 minutes away from Rotorua. Me and Tania as well as a few other saw some amazing mud pools and other geothermal stuff (this is really a cool word, don’t you think) yesterday, but now we were going to visit another gigantic mud pool and accordingly to our guide Helen, it is one of the most beautiful and smelliest one there is.


This smelly pool is located at the Wai-O-Tapu reserve and I must say that it is a big one, but beautiful ??? I don’t think so, I guess we were at the wrong place, the wrong time or the weather was against us, anyway, whatever the reason was, I still made some pictures of the big blubber pool and while doing so I still was amazed by the fact that something can smell so awful. OMG, was actually the only thing that went through my mind at that particular moment.

From the reserve, it was back on the road only to stop again about an hour later. This time we were going to see the Huka falls, which is know for it's beautiful blue colours, but sadly enough it rained so hard at the moment we arrived, that it wasn’t possible to see the clear blue water. However, for some reason the weather Gods agreed with us because a few minutes later we only had a light drizzle and this was as good as any time to take a few pictures. Who knows, it could be raining heavily again within a few minutes, or less as well of course, here in NZ it is always a bit of a gamble.


Now that we all had some neat pictures, it was time again for a visit to the city of Taupo but sadly enough the weather changed again and it started raining again, so instead of visiting the lake, we just kept ourselves busy with visiting some shops and do a bit of window-shopping.

We also had some free time to have lunch in Taupo and not knowing what to eat, me and Tania, chose for a Thai restaurant and although they mistakingly served my food to someone else, I did receive it in no time and it was really yummie, so although I was a bit displeased in the beginning, in my heart I forgave them, but only because the food was so good! :)


Sadly enough after lunch, we didn't had anymore time left to watch a few more shops, so instead we just jumped into the bus as quickly as possible. It was still cold in Taupo and the worst thing of all, the rain kept on coming. I just wished I could have seen Taupo with some good weather because than everything looks more beautiful and brighter as well. Now it was more like a dark scene from a Lord of the Rings movie, everything but attractive.

Being back on the bus again, I just felt so tired that I closed my eyes for a while, only to open them again as we arrived at a small hot spring. This natural stream of water is known for its hot temperatures and some of us dared to go into it for a dip. I myself, just waded trough the water coz I was to lazy to put on my swimmers. I know, shame on me, but I am on a holiday and I only do the things that I really want. The funny part though is when you walked through the water you could feel the temperature dropping from like 40 degrees to something really cold. That is just so amazing!

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As the clouds were coming back again and so was a light drizzle, it was time again to move on.

Our next stop on the road was also going to be our final one today, to be more precise, Tongariro NP where we arrived about 2 hours (or even a bit more) later. As soon as we received the keys to our room, me and Tania went to the communal showers. It was so nice to feel that hot water on your body, although it is supposed to be spring at this moment, to me it feels more like autumn. Everyone we met up with says that is not normal for the time of year, so global warming is really a fact if you ask me.

At exactly 7 PM, we had our dinner and we had a choice out of lamb, chicken nuggets or a vegetarian dish. I went for the lamb as well as the pavlova for dessert. After all, we are in NZ and this is supposedly a real kiwi dinner. I must admit that lamb isn’t really one of my favorite meats but it seemed that I was lucky with my piece of meat so in a way it was still okay.

Feeling completely tired after dinner, me and Tania, just went to our room and skyped home to let people know that we were still alive and as soon as we updated our blog a little and uploaded pictures, it was already time again for bed.

Tomorrow our hike awaits us, but we don’t know for sure if it is going to be the Tongariro Crossing, coz the weather isn’t all that good and it is already 99 % sure that the crossing is going to be closed. I don’t know what we did to deserve this shitty weather, but I can only hope that it all clears up by tomorrow morning.

Posted by Ils1976 12:41 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes waterfalls people walk tour sightseeing oceania Comments (2)

what is that smell???

I guess people think I am crazy when I tell them I spend the night with 32 other people, but that is exactly what happened! Although I must admit that I didn’t slept all that well. I woke up a couple of times during the night because at times it was just so hot inside my sleeping bag, but the minute I opened it, it was freezing cold, so what to do, that is one major question a person thinks about in the middle of the night!

On the other hand, when I asked a bit around, I wasn't the only one with sleeping troubles coz a few people didn't sleep at all because someone was snoring and since I didn't hear that, it must have been somewhere in the front of the building, since I slept all the way in the back. It seemed I was blessed that at least I slept a little.

Breakfast was being served in the main hall and this time there was some french toast and fruit as well as cereals. I went for the french toast with bananas coz it was a nice reminder of our start of the trip and secondly of all, I just love it, can you blame me???

As soon as all the bags were in the bus and everyone was finished eating, we could start on our way towards our activities we chose yesterday. Lots of people went for the rafting activity, or even zip lining between the trees, but me and Tania together with 3 others chose for Hell’s Gate. It is all in the name isn’t it!

Hell’s Gate is simply put some kind of spa. We are in Rotorua and this place is not only well known for lots of health spas, but for the nicest smell in the whole wide world as well and I am not talking about the lovely scent of flowers, but sadly enough the smell of rotten eggs and I guess I think you know what that means … sulphur, right!!!

This spa we were going to visit has it all, me and Tania together with Kate went first on a short walk where you could see different geothermal activity.


Isn’t that nicely put?? Afterwards we could spend some time in the mud pool and after 20 to 30 minutes playing with mud, it was time for the second pool which was a sulphur one. I loved this so much, the temperatures were heavenly but somehow I got trouble with my eyes in the second one and I had to get out at one given moment.


Maybe I'd better had worn sunglasses like all the rest coz the sun probably reflected in the water and hit my eyes so to speak and at one given time I couldn’t even open them. It was really weird. I got a tingling sensation and I couldn’t even see, I only hoped that this sudden blindness wouldn't last and luckily it didn't!

After our rejuvenating „swim", we were picked up by a shuttle bus, which dropped us of at our hotel and after we've got settled in our hotel, we went back to the centre of town to grab something to eat and also to do some souvenir shopping. Tania really wanted a cycling shirt but after searching for it for quite a while, we still hadn’t found one. Bummer, but maybe we can do some more shopping when we are in the capital, we will see.

Since there wasn't so much to see in the centre, the both of us walked all the way back towards our hotel alongside the waterfront and this was just so beautiful at times. The nice sceneries kept on coming and coming and luckily from time to time we even got some sunshine. All in all a perfect day for a nice walk along the lake, sadly enough we had the rotten egg smell following is, but hey, with such a view, who cares! 


Once back at the hotel, we changed into our running gear and while I went for lesson nr. 4, Tania was up to something like number 14 I guess, so I have a lot of catching up to do, but I don’t think that this is going to happen while I am in NZ. Anyways, the „run” was lots of fun and although you could do it on your own pace, the most incredible thing were the sceneries, the smell of course was something completely different, but like I mentioned before, after a while you forget about it and just enjoy what is in front of you.

It was already late when we came back from our run and after having a well deserved shower, we went back in town for some dinner. Strangely enough it wasn’t all that busy once it gets dark and also colder. We tried to find something to eat, but most of the joints were closed. Strange indeed coz it is a friday night. Everything should be bustling with party people but not in Rotorua. To me it looked more like a ghost town and after walking about half on hour in mostly empty streets, we found a little pizza place and went for it. It seems we were right by choosing it, coz not only was it value for money, it was yummie as well.


The strangest thing however is that we closed the joint. As soon as we were finished with our dinner and walked out of the door, they closed it. Really how can you close a restaurant at 9 PM in the evening when all your tables our „reserved”. It just became stranger and stranger.

Since it wasn’t all that much fun walking in an almost ghost town, we decided to go back to the hotel but getting there seemed somewhat of a problem. Normally we don't have a problem with finding our way, but here in Rotorua we kept on turning into the wrong streets and instead of walking back to the hotel in mere minutes, we arrived there more than half an hour later, I don't know what they put into that pizza, but it couldn't be something good!?

Once we organized all of our stuff and updated our blog a little, it was already pretty late, but the thing that puts a smile on my face, was the fact that tomorrow we could sleep in coz we weren’t going to leave until 9.45 AM. Sounds like heaven in my ears!

Posted by Ils1976 05:54 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes people walk friends wellness oceania indigenous_people Comments (2)

its a long, long drive!

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Today we had an early start, but not before we had breakfast of course and I was happy to see that there was a bit of everything to go around and unlike dinner yesterday, this brekkie was more than okay.

As soon as all of our bags were packed, we were more than eager to leave the Bay of islands behind us and see a little bit more of the North Island, something you can't do without a whole lot of driving … or in other words, Craig our bus driver was going to do a lot of work today. We only had to enjoy the more than beautiful sceneries.


Me and Tania had the best seats of the day coz we were in front and this meant that we could make some great pictures from time to time. At least that was my intention coz I guess I slept more than that I was awake, but not that it bothered me much, this way the time went by very fast.

At about 12 AM we arrived back in the city of sails a.k.a. Auckland, where we said goodbye to half of our group. Their tour came to an end and another 15 people were going to join us here. Sounds a little bit exciting not!?

There was still a bit of time for us to go and grab some lunch and about an hour later we were back on the bus and met up with our new group members. By the time that we left the city, we all got to introduce ourselves and tell something funny as well. This kind of bonding game really worked and in no-time people were chatting through the bus and for some odd reason it felt like we knew each other for quite a while now although it only has been less than a few hours for a few of us.

While we introduced ourselves, I noticed that the majority of our group lived in Australia. Not that big of a surprise really since it isn’t that far away, but somehow I was surprised to hear how little Europeans there were in our group. I thought we could have done better.

As we go further down the highway, Helen, our guide, gives us more information about our special overnight this evening.

Tonight we are going to stay with a Maori family who have their own Marae and in order to learn a bit more about their habits and cultures, we need to learn a particular song. Me and singing ??? Is there alcohol involved ???

It seems that we can't get out of it. If we want to stay at their home, we've got to sing! Luckily we are with about 33 people so, nobody is going to hear my squeaky voice coz I am going into silent mode! :)

Our song is going to be the following : Oma rapeti, oma rapeti, oma oma oma (twice), pako pako pako, miss!, went the farmer’s gun. I know this sounds so strange but it has something to do with shooting a bunny and we missed it and it lives on, looking at it from the bright side of life, at least we know Maori language, how cool is that!

But still, we are a few hours away from arriving at the scene and during that time, Craig and Helen are really making sure we know our song from the heart. 

When we enter the town of Matamata, we know that we aren’t far away from our arrival, but before we say "hi" to our Moari family, we first make a short stop in this little sleepy town which became famous overnight because of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.


There is not all that much to see in this very small town except for the tourist information centre and the welcome sign of the town itself. They are really beautiful and just looking at it, makes me feel like I am in Hobbiton, but still, those hobbits were nowhere to be found. It seemed they all fled out of the country!!!???

Half an hour later, we are on the move again and all anxiously looking forward to meeting the Moari family.

As we arrive on the scene so to speak, we first have to do a little ceremony, which Craig explained to us earlier during the day. The Maori people value their heritage and also their culture, so who are we to disagree. This is their culture and we have to respect it.

Us girls form one big group and the 2 guys and Craig stand behind us. They are supposed to protect us and I am just so glad this ceremony is symbolic coz if these 3 actually had to protect us for real, we were as good as dead. Okay, think positive Ils!

When we are all ready for the ceremony, a woman comes out of the Marae and starts chanting words. While this is going on, we slowly walk forwards till we reach the building and since it isn't allowed to walk inside with shoes, we left them outside at the entrance of the door.

Once we are welcomed inside, we take place on the seats and listen to the head of the family saying some words in Maori to protect us and then it is time for us all to perform.


Now that we are here in the building, it sounds even beter than during our rehearsal on the bus, it's really mind boggling. It even gives me goosebumps and I am sure higher spirits are present here at this moment, but that's just me!

When we finally say „Hi” in Maori with shaking hands and in the meantime pressing our noses and foreheads together, we can all relax and enjoy our stay here on the Marae. It seems we are now welcomed into the family and what better way to celebrate this than with some snacks and tea. An hour later, we even enjoy an abundant dinner with the rest of the family.

As soon as dinner is over and the dishes done, there is also some time for life entertainment. The family had prepared a few songs for us and while the men performed their famous „haka”, the woman did the same with the „poi”. 

The coolest part comes about a few minutes later when we are going to perform our own poi and the men in our group our going to show us their haka. I have to admit that the poi was funny and the Maori songs are really beautiful, but our 2 men really sucked at their haka, they clearly need to practise more when it concerns the "scary look" part.

All in all we had a great evening and as soon as we all got prepared for going to bed, it looked a bit like camping out. All 33 of us staying in the marae is just so funny, but at the same time an unique experience.

While a few of us were already sound asleep, the Maori woman (of which I sadly enough forgot the name) and wife of the leader of the family, came along and did some storytelling. It was a great way to learn a bit more of the culture and traditions, but at one given point I was really tired myself and I just crawled a little bit deeper into my sleeping bag and closed my eyes.

Posted by Ils1976 02:29 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes trees boats road_trip native tour sightseeing group oceania Comments (4)

sailing around some islands

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I have to be honest, I have never slept so good on this trip till now. This is kind of strange coming out of my mouth since I am not exactly that good with boats, but somehow the rocking did the trick coz I was amongst one of the last to get up. Everyone was already dressed and very awake when I arrived with my sleepy head and tried to find something to eat. I was just so glad to see that they had oatmeal coz I love to eat this in the morning and together with some raisins it made up for a fine meal.

After brekkie, I met up with Roan and he told me that during the night a storm came up and he had to change the position of the boat. Apparently he was also afraid that some people were going to „freak out” because of the bad weather and from 3 AM till about 5 AM he didn’t sleep worrying about that. The worse thing about it is that no one on the boat had heard it, so this meant that the boat really rocked everyone to sleep in a real good way. I am just so sorry to hear that our captain lost sleep about this whole ordeal, while he just could have been sound asleep. Oh well, these are things that can happen on the job I suppose.


Now with everyone quite awake, there is a chance to go snorkeling for sea urchins, but for me the water is just simply put too cold and I gave this activity a miss, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t enjoyed watching the few that went along from a sunny place on the boat. It seemed they were really cold as well, coz only about 20 minutes later everyone was back in the boat with a catch of fresh sea urchins and a small starfish as well and of course I can't forget the sea snail, the latter I must say, was really a yukkie looking animal.

As soon as our snorkelers changed there clothes, the boat moved again and we sailed alongside a few islands till we reached Moturua Island for a small walk to some lookout point. Unfortunately it really was a short walk, but the views were amazing, the only downside is that the weather changes so quickly here in NZ and although it is almost all the time very cloudy, I really prefer the fluffy white ones over the dark ugly ones.

Luckily for the moment we only had light fluffy ones and once back on the beach, we had some free time on our hands to look for some neat shells.


Some of them have the shape of a ring and although finding them was not all that easy, I was lucky to have found at least 2. Tania on the other hand found some beautiful shells, the shapes are so amazing overhere coz back home we only have the dull round shaped ones, that is the fun of traveling I suppose.

It took a while for our dingy to come back and pick us up, we had to wait more than half an hour on the beach after our walk, but not that we minded much, our captain on the other hand wasn’t all that pleased coz it seemed that there was something wrong with the fuel filter of the boat and he needed to change that. It seemed that even "the Rock" has an illness once in a while. This on the other hand meant that we were going to arrive a little bit later in Paiha than expected, the place where we were going to stay for another night and meet up with the rest of the group again. I guess once again the captain worried more about that fact than us, we were on a holiday, so we didn’t mind at all.

Back on the boat again, lunch was being served and afterwards, we slowly made our way back to the mainland. In the beginning the weather was still fine, but that changed all for the worse about half an hour later coz rain just kept on pooring down on us. I am so lucky that we could sit inside where it was still a bit warmer than outside on the deck where the water made waves of about a meter high. This wasn’t looking good at all.

As we came closer and closer to mainland the weather changed again and this time I was more than happy to see the fluffy clouds again. It is really true what they say about NZ, whatever you plan to do, just do it anyway coz you can’t rely on the weather!!!

We arrived at Paiha with nice sunny weather, sadly enough it only lasted till we reached our hotel on foot.


With our baggage dropped of in our room, we first went back into the centre to buy some groceries and than it was as good as time ever to do another „start to run” lesson, number 3 already. It is strange how fast it is going and although we started out with okay weather, as soon as I went out of the main street and jogged towards the bridge it just came pooring down on us, coz just like me, Tania went for another lesson as well. 

The rain kept on falling on our heads, it was just unbelievable and by the time I ended my lesson, it was gone again, the weather is just so strange and I don’t think that I am ever going to get used to it. I know that we have bad weather in our country as well, but there it is somewhat predictable, here you’ll never know what is going to happen in the next half our or so, it is a strange way of living!

A nice hot shower washed away all my sorrows or should I say negative thoughts and of course the cold as well and as soon as we got into some dry clothes it was already time to have dinner with the group, which was in buffet style. The food itself wasn’t all that good, but since I was just so starving after my lesson, I just as easily have eaten anything that was planted in front of me.

With the weather still being a bit nice and more importantly dry, me and tania went back into town again to search for a dessert, but an hour later we didn’t had one coz all the eateries which served some yummy things were either closed or had nothing special for our sweet tooth and after a while, we just decided to go back to our room. After packing our stuff back into the big bag, it was already pretty late and once again I felled really tired. So there was nothing else to do than go to sleep.

Posted by Ils1976 23:05 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises beaches people trees boats walk tour oceania Comments (2)

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