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Mount Doom

We headed to Kaikoura to catch up with Jukka, Curt & Co. (still cracking snails) and went swimming with the dolphins. The dolphin swimming tour started at 5:30 am and was fantastic. Jukka was so kind to let us use his underwater video camera, so now we have about 15 minutes of underwater footage of dolphins. We'd really love to put up some of it on this blog, but the videos are on a DVD. I will figure out how to rip a DVD to create a browser readable format as soon as I find free internet access and two hours to spare, which probably means in March ;-) Anyway, the dolphin swimming was great - visibility was not too exciting, maybe 6, 7 meters, but it didn't matter at all because the dolphins were extremely curious, and there were about 80 of them.

The day after we headed north to catch the ferry to the North Island. Although various people recommended that we should visit the Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island before leaving, we decided to skip it - yet another good reason to come back! The ferry trip was quite nice, about 3 hours in beautiful weather to Wellington, crossing the Cook Strait. We had no clue where we would want to go on the North Island, so we decided that the sunny weather should generally guide us. The forecast for the central area seemed best, and so we went there. The central area is probably one of the most frequented areas on the North Island (tourism-wise), mainly because of the three big volcanos and the surrounding national park. Being good Swiss citizens (i.e. mountain people), we felt the urge to go to the top of Mount Ruhapehu, the highest of the three (2797 m) and still fairly active. The area was heavily used as a filming location for Lord of the Rings (Mordor and Mount Doom, also known as Mount Ngaurohoe, a perfectly shaped volcano).

We stayed in a campsite near Ruahpehu, and gave it a go early in the morning. Despite good weather forecast, a lot of clouds covered the top of the mountain, and an additional strong wind made us retreat. The next morning, we tried again - perfect weather conditions this time, and around midday, we stood on top of the highest peak on the North Island. There is actually something of a track going up to the crater, but we missed it. The reason is quite simple: there is another official track going to an elevated viewpoint, called the "Skyline Track". We didn't know then that this track didn't go up anywhere near the top, and that the official track to the crater was on the other side of the mountain... So we hiked up the Skyline Track ("Skyline" sounds like a perfectly reasonable name for a track to the top, doesn't it?) and were a bit surprised to find the path had ended after about a half hour. However, there were some pseudo tracks going up further, and a well-equipped japanese mountaineering group seemed to have the same goal as we did, so we went along with our plan. Needless to say, it got steeper and steeper, the tracks disappeared, and we soon found ourselves crawling up the crater like two hobbits.

When we were on top, we realized three things: 1, the views were worth the effort, 2, the track to the crater was on the other side of the mountain, and 3, we went much higher than the official track would have taken us (because we were actually on the top). When the japanese group arrived and started praying, we thought it was a good time to leave and hiked back down again.

The next morning, we left the area and headed further north through a very active volcanic area - lots of mud pools, geysers, and other steamy, stinky evidence of the fact that the earth was hot underneath. We drove further north until we finally reached the ocean: the bay of plenty. The bay of the plenty is a superbly beautiful area, the climate is perfect and the sandy beaches are endless. We are currently staying at a place called Waihi Beach. We found a campsite right at the beach and think we will probably stay here for a while and build some sandcastles.


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Comments (4)

You are getting closer and closer! I guess the next stop is Coromandel? See you soon!


Yep, Coromandel and further north. But the weather at Waihi Beach right now is just too good to leave..

Selina Niggli:

Hallo ier 2 wia henders den so??gnüsseds und see you soon,hoffi;)
Maches guat und an ticka kuss vor Selina


Für den Mac empfehle ich dir Handbrake zum rippen.

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