July 23, 2009

Magical Mt Ruapehu: Part Two

Of course the next morning came round very early with one excitable little girl ready to get out and hit the snow again. After a quick breakfast we wrapped up warm and headed out with only one intention and that was to go sledging!!

As we drove into Whakapapa we noticed the difference to the night before, the snow had mostly cleared and the road to the top of the mountain was now open. Although as we climbed the snow was definitely the only feature! We were waved through the check point by the lovely friendly people (which was nice to see when they were working in such cold conditions) as only 4WD’s were allowed past a certain point. As we climbed higher still we saw people digging out cars and diggers/snow ploughs passing the other side!

We found a spot to park the car and hopped out. The walk up to the main centre was a tough one, the ground was wet and slushy and the clouds were low making visibility poor. I had only been walking for 5 minutes when it all just became too much, my feet were so cold  – it was agony! We retreated to the cafe and watched others out of the window whilst we pondered our next move. Michael went off to buy tickets for the sledges (which were $20 each all day use) and then we headed off to have some fun – I just had to toughen up and get on with it!!

We stood for quite a while in the queue waiting to pick up a sledge, it was really quite busy with people hiring snow gear, boards and skis. Eventually we made it out but only to realise we didn’t know where we needed to be. Eventually we found an overturned sign which pointed us in the right direction – and then we were off!

It was again a trek to get up to the part we needed to be at, but Bethany loved having Daddy pull her in the sledge!

Great fun, Bethany and Daddy went on together and then Grandma did a few runs too – soooo funny!!

As you saw in the above video we headed onwards from the snow on the afternoon, we took a beautiful scenic drive first stopping off at Tawhai Falls to see a cute waterfall, and the weather was lovely too, which was what we needed after being so cold on the morning.

Onwards from there we passed beautiful open views that looked back over lakes to the snowy mountains, and picnic spots so wonderful it would make us want to drive 5 hours just to eat there sometime. After much awe inducing moments we arrived at our destination: Tokaanu Thermal Pools.

We hired a private thermal pool and relaxed in the gorgeous hot mountain water. I of course could only stand so long with the temperature being quite high, and Bethany didn’t even venture in, but it was a lovely spot with an open roof which on a night would be amazing to look out and watch the stars.

Bethany was really pleased when we all got out, I got dressed and took all of our things whilst Grandma and Daddy took Bethany into the geothermally heated outdoor swimming pool. Well I say ‘swimming pool’ it was more like a general gathering area! As you might see at the end of the video, people were just standing around chatting – it was all very serene and very odd!!

After getting everyone dry and dressed we took the Tokaanu Geothermal Walk which took us past bubbling mud pools, steaming holes in the ground and warm waters. It was lovely and reminded us very much of our last trip in this area with Grandma just a few months ago.

We headed back to the chalet very tired and very hungry and settled down. Bethany of course was the life of the party and so we decided to take her over to the club room and maybe play pool or watch TV. Just as we arrived another little girl was putting on a DVD, as none of us had seen it, we grabbed some wine and settled back.

Before long Bethany was just too tired to watch anymore so we headed back to the chalet again, then with Bethany safe in bed we started to plot our last day and what we were going to do. Some crazy ideas were thought up (amazing what a few wines can do!) and we made some crazy decisions. These thoughts however were broken by us getting text messages from our family and friends back in the UK checking to see if we were OK….why? Because NZ had just been hit with a massive 7.8 earthquake!!!

OK, the funny thing is we didn’t even know it had happened! The quake took place furthest South out in the mountain ranges and although damage was done in nearby towns it was nothing major at all. For NZ’s 2nd ever biggest quake it was kind to us. Poor Lynn though was desperate to feel a quake whilst she was here – and she still missed out! At least she can say she was here when it hit, the news stories afterwards have been interesting in that we have now moved slightly closer to Oz!

 So with the thought of what tomorrow would bring, be it more snow or more earthquakes we headed to bed!  

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