February 14, 2014
Yes, I know. That day has already come and gone. And I must admit that I forgot it was even Valentines day until I stopped for my afternoon coffee break in Ohakune.
I was supposed to be walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on this day but when I got in to National Park to the Adventure Lodge and Motel, Lorraine who runs this place, pretty much talked me out of going on this day. Thanks! I really appreciate that. Why? Because it was going to be raining for most of the day and that would make a very miserable trek with barely any views worth mentioning. So instead I went to Whakapapa Village which was only 10 minutes away. However as I was driving to Whakapapa, the cloud and mist was so low and thick that I was metres away and I could not see the Chateau Tongariro until I was almost upon it. Well, I guess there is no salvaging the day around here. I was thinking that I might be able to at least do the Taranaki Falls or the Silica Rapids walk but with the rain coming down, it would’ve been a miserable walk. Even the Department of Conservation people at the visitor centre said it would be miserable, perhaps not in those words but they were kind enough to say that there was no shelter along the way to the Falls or the the Rapids and the walk to the rapids was also a bit steeper than the walk to the Falls. Well, that was enough for me to decide on the Falls, but as I looked out the window and saw the rain come down, that was also enough for me to decide to go to Ohakune. I figured that if it was raining up at Whakapapa village, perhaps with Ohakune being at a lower elevation, it would be slightly better weather. So 35 minutes later, I was back at my old haunt. I have been here before with the Red Carpet Tours. Remember Frodo’s room? I went back and got the souvenir key chain for Elijah Woods room. Silly? Yes! And I’m okay with it. Anyway, I was reading in my NZ Frenzy guide book by Scott Cook that there were some sights that we could see while in Ohakune.
Before going on my little adventure, I stopped off at the Powderhorn Chateau to get my key chain and then I stopped for lunch at the OCR (Old Coach Road) Cafe. I had a sandwich with Molenberg bread. Apparently it’s a NZ grain. It was tasty. Then I got onto the Ohakune Mountain Road and drove up to the Turoa Skifields. And like the book said, there wasn’t much up here except for a large parking lot. But the views were amazing. Not at first, since it was all clouded over, but when I had left the cafe, the clouds were clearing and I could actually see blue sky with the occasionally ray of sunshine. And it was in and out as I drove up the road to the top. But it clouded over again as I reached the top. But as I wandered the entire parking lot, looking over the edges to see Mordor type scenery, I turned around and saw blue sky and the most amazing view of snow covered Mt. Ruapehu. It was like a window in the clouds. And as I stood in awe admiring the view, the window frame kept changing and moving around the snow capped peaks. The peak was peeking through. Cheesy, I know. But I had to throw it in. It was beautiful. And as I watched the clouds moving in and around, I also felt the wind reminding me that it was their power that moved the clouds.
It was time for me to head down and check out the next site on the road, the Mangawhero Falls. The book said that it was easy to miss because the sign was small and on my way up, I did miss it, but on my way down, it was easier because there is a huge area for you to pull off the road. A large enough area for a Red Carpet Tours bus to pull off and make a large turn. I thought the name was familiar but it just didn’t click in until I saw the sign. So, I stopped and re-visited it. It was nicer this time, because there was a better view of Mt. Ruapehu in the background.
Next stop, Waitonga Falls. According to the book it was a moderate 20 minute tramp. Really? What were you doing? Running? The DOC sign said it was an hour and 20 minute return trip. That’s 40 minutes in and 40 minutes out. And though it didn’t take me as long as an hour and 20, I never would’ve been able to get to the Falls within 20 minutes. Regardless, it was a nice walk. And I’m very thankful it didn’t rain. There was a lot of variety to this walk: boardwalks, dirt paths, stairs, and little bridges over streams. And if you look around, you’ll see some side paths that other people have gone on over the years. One of them takes you to the edge and you can hear it before you see it. It’s another waterfall. Be careful though. It does take you right to the edge and if you want a good photo, you have to lean over a little (just a little) to get the shot. It’s less than 5 minutes from the main path. And you can’t get lost on this walk. So don’t worry about veering off.
After returning to the township, I stopped for afternoon coffee at The Mountain Rocks Cafe and Bar. It’s a neat little place right across the street from the i-Site, which was my next destination. I had to check the weather for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The weather was supposed to be good for both days, so I chose Saturday. Sunday would be reserved for Mt. Ngauruhoe aka Mt. Doom. Then it was time to head back to the Lodge. I would have to rest up for the crossing the next day.
When I got back to the Adventure Lodge, I signed up for the transport for the next day. 7:30am was the time out. Really? Well, that’s decent. When I did my research, I was seeing times at 6am or 6:30am. But 7:30? That’s do-able. All my research said it could be done between 6 to 9hrs. So even if I took the full 9 hours, I would still be able to catch the last transport back to the lodge. Just a note, if you’ve noticed, all my posts, other than the ones where I was with Red Carpet Tours, does not indicate where I actually stayed. And this is the only post so far where I’ve even mentioned the name of the place where I am staying at. And the main reason I have kept mum, is that I was thinking about doing a separate post on all the places I stayed. I don’t know yet about that future post. But the reason I mention Adventure Lodge and Motel, is because of what they have in their reception office walls. Seeing this alone makes this place cool enough for future stays!
Alright, enough thinking, time to sleep. Now if only the guy next door would stop snoring.
Wish you were all here! Luv, Aunty!