intraspace: the review lounge

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

the great nz road trip (highlights package)

[picture: andrew (left) and dave getting rained on while walking on a jetty, taupo. picture by rob]

over the weekend i went on a road trip with my two brothers - rob and dave. i think this was the first time the three of us had been away together on a trip like this, so it promised to be an interesting social experiment. back in the day, when they were roadtripping as younger men i was only about 10 years old. 20 years later we set about planning to drive down to the central plateau of nz to see what we could see. and it turned into rather a good trip. here's the highlights package...

day one: south of rotorua we went to a place called orakei korako (aka hidden valley) - a geothermal area that is supposed to be pretty good. we shelled out our $28 per person (tourist prices) and went across a catchment lake (part of the waikato river) on a little ferryboat to the other side. then we looked at sulphuris formations and various subterranean bubblings. the highlight was a big open cave surrounded by native bush with a blue tinted thermal pool at the bottom.

stayed that night in taupo.

day two: we set out from taupo and headed to the famed horopito motors. weatherwise this was exactly the same type of day as when lance and i went there earlier in the year, except now it was winter - so it was about 9 degrees colder. horopito is always good. and afterwards we took quite a lot of photos in the surrounding landscape. from there we headed to ohakune.

in ohakune we got a brilliantly cheap lunch from the bakery and drove up mount ruapehu. at the top of the road, dave's 'snow warning' went off in his car. it was 1 degree outside and raining/sleeting. well you can't not get out and touch snow when you're up the mountain so we braved the stinging rain for a few minutes. back in the car we decided that the only sensible thing to do in weather like this is to go for a bush walk.

we went down the road a bit and found a nice track to some waterfalls (the waitonga falls to be exact). being in the bush was ok - wet but not windy - until the track crossed open tundra that looked like the marsh scene out of lord of the rings, but colder and without the faces and lights. we got lashed with more sleet and had to concentrate on not getting blown off the boardwalk. back in the bush we descended into a valley. the path ended far too far away from the actual waterfalls for these kiwi blokes, so we bush-crashed up the valley until we were standing right beneath the main waterfall. so now we were being thrashed by the waterfall as well as the rain - refer to mention of temperature earlier to appreciate comfort level - but it was exhilarating and literally breath-taking.

after 2 hours of being out in that charming weather we finally got back to the car and cranked up the heater, which did a surprisingly good job of keeping us warm in our 1 degree celsius rain/waterfall water-soaked trousers.

stayed that night in turangi after driving north up the desert road.

day three: we drove north to a road that travels up the west side of lake taupo. we stopped at an old jetty and took more photos (pictured above), getting more rain on us and spying a picturesque village across the water with a waterfall and church with a high steeple. we worked our way around the lake until we came to the sign to waihi village - the place we'd seen. anyway, further up the road was a big handpainted sign telling us to keep out. before the sign were a couple of great-looking little 1950s holiday cribs which i had to photograph for my safe little world stuff.

standing on the edge of the grass in front of the places, i had taken a couple of photos when i heard a vehicle behind me. anyway, to cut a long story short, it was lady telling me off for photographing private property - the locals clearly sensitive about outsiders in this area. i explained to her that i wasn't doing anything wrong. she told me i had to ask for permission to photograph the buildings. i said, "can i photograph the buildings?" she said, "yes" and drove off. the old killick charm clearly paid off.

then we went further north up the waikato river, taking in a couple of quite impressive dams until we came to arapuni and the enormous swing bridge that i had forgotten was there. we parked the car and walked across the bridge feeling like it was going to collapse at any moment and send us hurtling into the rapids over 50 metres below.

that night back to my parents' place in kaiaua, then back home the next day.

a classic trip accompanied by dave's rather eclectic ipod library (everything from audioslave to hot chocolate and portishead); and apart from one 'discussion' about politics, no arguments...

on the headphones: 'the underdog' by spoon, from the album 'ga ga ga ga ga'.

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