July 20, 2009

Magical Mt Ruapehu: Part One

It’s always good to show off New Zealand, not that it needs much showcasing but this time round we thought that seen as though Grandma came to stay with us in Winter, we would give her a season to remember.

The last time we touched and played with snow was when we lived in the UK in our old home, Bethany must have just turned two and we sledged around the tiny sprinkling in our garden. If you check out this recent post you will see that as a child I had much better and bigger snow to play in!

So off we went, leaving behind a wintry, blustery rainbow dancing Wellington.

The drive wasn’t too long at all, despite the estimation being nearly 5 hours with a stop the time seemed to fly over, I think the excitement of it all took over the driving time. We arrived at our accommodation for the next three days which was called Discovery Lodge. We had a lovely little one bedroom chalet with 4 extra beds in the main room. We were advised at check-in that we have some stunning views from our chalet – if only it wasn’t for the low cloud and rain!

Quite pricey at $240 a night I suppose we could have got a lot more for our money elsewhere, but what we were paying for here was not only the amazing views but the 5 minutes drive to the bottom of the mountain. I don’t think there was anything in particular wrong with this place, I just think they could do better but don’t need/want to as they know they have a bloody great spot.

So we unpacked as fast as we could, gulped down a cuppa and headed out. As we headed into Whakapapa (pronounced Fakapapa) the rain turned into heavy blobs and the cars driving towards us were heavily lined with snow on the rooftops. Eventually the blobs turned into proper falling snow – how exciting!

As we got closer and closer to the foot of the hill the temperature dropped from 8 right down to 1 degree!

We parked up next to the visitor centre and headed out – our first encounter with actual real snow in many many years! Bethany of course was so excited, she has been so excited about the whole thing since the day we mentioned the trip, and then to have Grandma with her too to enjoy the moment, well it was beyond special.

(Click to make each photo bigger)

Bethany played, rolled, danced and built a very fine snowman. However the snow didn’t really hold much ‘umph’ and we were kind of hoping the stuff at the top of the mountain was going to be much better. After a finger and toe numbing hour we hopped back into the car and headed back to our chalet to warm up, and just in time too as the mountain was closed due to heavy sudden snow fall and people were actually trapped!

Back at the chalet we ate, drank and became merry in the excitement of what day two would offer…

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