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more washout

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

well tongariro never happened. it was rainy and misty as all hell, and even though i’d probably still have attempted it in the rain, there’s really no point if you can’t see more than 100 metres in front of you. sigh. big time disappointment.

however we went to the cute little town of napier, which was flattened by an earthquake in the 1930s and rebuilt from the ground result – the end result being an architechturally fascinating collection of art deco buildings. i love gorgeous architecture, so i was in heaven – okay, i went a little snap happy. it was like walking through the set of a movie. ever see “pleasantville”? yeah, just like that.

however the rains have continued to plague us all the way to the south of the north island, so not much to write home about. a few aborted attempts to see coastal scenery, and find the imaginary colony of fur seals alluded to by our horrible guidebook (never, ever buy the “footprints” books, they’re just rubbish!) we’ve settled into a comfortable camping routine, and become experts at finding the nicest rest stops to spend the night at (yes, yes, it’s illegal, but *everyone* does it…) and i’ve become quite the 2 square foot chef.

we’re headed for the south island today, and hoping mightily to escape the wet… i blame kerryn (who has reportedly jinxed us for sending him a postcard from fiji…)

the photos from rotorua and waitomo are here - see if you can spot the glow worms

til then, my pretties!

ahhhh…

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

london really should look into getting itself a few thermal hot spring pools. soooooo nice….

washout

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

blah – a full day of heavy cold rains. lake taupo is the largest lake in new zealand, but we’d never know it because all we could see was mist and rain and more mist. there’s precious little to do indoors in taupo in the rain – the town revolves around outdoor and adventure sports. sigh. we’re hoping to do the tongariro crossing tomorrow, but since we can’t even see the massive bloody mountains at the moment, it’s looking grim.

fingers crossed… i have my heart set on this.

the d.i.y. tourist

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

there are times when refusing to buy into the package tourism industry is so unexpectedly gratifying. for example, the other day we were leaving rotorua and started to head towards taupo with the hopes of doing the tongariro crossing hike (one of nz’s “great treks”), but the weather was looking increasing crappy, so we decided on a whim to veer off to waitomo instead. waitomo is principally known for two things: caves and glow worms. both j and are are somewhat non-plussed by caves at this point, but we were interested in seeing the glow worms and the scenery the area is reknowned for. as we drove, we passed through mile after mile of emerald knolls and valleys, lakes and ponds nestled in the foothills, and plush forest packed with firs and giant ferns. as j said, “it hurts your eyes trying to take it all in”. we arrived in waitomo and found it chock-a-block with “adventure companies” offering (expensive) myriad opportunities to see the glow worms while spelunking/abseiling/tubing through the caves. to be honest, neither of us fancied the disneyfied tours, and we’d decided to try to save our mad money for snowboarding on the south island. so once again we decided to strike off in search of the road less travelled.

we wound our way up the narrow little backroads to see the spectacular vistas from high above the town. we found our way to the remote but truly impressive marakopa waterfalls. we did a d.i.y. tour of the spooky piripiri caves. we browsed through the nearby town of otorahanga and did some souvenir shopping. and at nightfall, we headed down to the banks of the waitomo river, where we explored the deep gorges, limestone caves and tunnels (in the dark!) and yes, even saw thosands of the glow worms, scattered amongst all the nooks and crannies and ceilings like tiny blue fairylights. the sounds of the forest settling down for the night, having the trail to ourselves, and the growing dark all combined for an wonderfully atmospheric twilight experience. we had such a memorable time, and it was so much more rewarding than shelling out gobs of money to be hustled through with a hoarde of gawkers.

sometimes the best things in life really are free.

traveling back in time

Friday, August 4th, 2006

new zeand is a land from another time – everywhere you look, there are elements of the prehistoric, traces of an existence tied to the birth of the planet. a land shaped by the earth’s violence, creating a preternatural beauty.

we begin in rotorua, at the center of creation, the birthplace of a nation. the destructive forces which littered the land with the most astounding scars, creating jewels from the ashes. the waiotapu thermal park is full of hissing, spitting and rumbling earth – geysers and boiling poisonous lakes, scalding steam vents and dangerous mud pots. these are reminders that we inhabit these islands only at mother nature’s discretion. you can read the evidence of upheaval in the surrounding landscape, deceptively green, yet born of fire and crush. though many fearues have existed here for eons, some are more recent – a warning against complacency.

we wend our way to the vast lake tarawera area. an enormous crystalline lake lying in the shadow of mt. tarawera, who flipped her lid in the late 1800’s, killing many and leaving an ominous jagged crater looming above the placid waters.

and then we visit the redwood forest. while not native to the area, these have been here for more than a century, and the ancient giants have been known to live for millenia. interspersed with towering primeval ebony ferns, they create a forest reminiscent of those that would have existed when the first humans explored the continents.

there is something about a redwood forest which is like a sacred chapel – humbling and solemn and overwhelming in grace. the eyes and heart are lifted skyward. steps fall silent in the spongy loam underfoot. sunlight filters through the canopy far above like through the rose window of a magnificent cathedral. decades and centuries are recorded within, a constant of history.

men are born and die, wars wage, seas shift, planets twirl, meteors tumble, cities rise and fall… yet these simple trees are everlasting.

it puts our own short, insignificant lives into perspective. it is awesome.

look out hobbits here we come!

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

we arrived in NZ today! picked up our little campervan (which is soooo cute!) and are at our first stopover in rotorua, where tomorrow we will go check out the thermal pools, bubbling mud, and geysers (which they insist on pronouncing “geezers”). i’ve been to yosemite in the u.s., but j’s never seen any of this before, so should be fun. the scenery is just stunning – if this is what it looks like in winter, i can’t even fathom how beautiful it must be in summer. j and i keep saying “there’s a hobbit! over there!” the overall impression is that it looks like the worlds bumpiest golf-course.

meanwhile i am practicing cooking in the hunchback position. made a steak and potato and salad dinner (not bad, if I do say so myself) and i believe i now have permanent scoliosis.

me and j cooped up in 8 square feet of space for 3 weeks – should be a giggle!

more soon y’all…

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