We are back from our little adventure and it was a bit of a disaster because we were all so sick. We just felt rotten for much of the time and depleted of energy with sore throats, chesty, phlegmy coughs, headaches and all the rest. We’re still not right but have passed the worst of this illness. Hopefully.
We went to Mount Ruapehu, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and the largest active volcano in New Zealand, according to Wikipedia. It’s in the central plateau of the North Island, a 4.5 hour drive from Auckland, so they say. It took us more like 6 hours which was still less than the marathon drive we took to the Coromandel thanks to traffic and getting lost. Fortunately there was no traffic on the way there, but we were welcomed back to Auckland this afternoon with the familiar sight of cars parked on the motorway.
The best day of our trip was Sunday, when we drove part way up the volcano in search of snow and weren’t disappointed. The kids just loved it, even Elizabeth, who begs me not to take her to Snowplanet. She was crunching around in the white stuff, eating as much as she could and telling us all it was “Chrismas”. We must be letting her watch too much northern hemisphere television.
|Mount Taranaki in the distance|
On Monday, we thought we’d drive further up the mountain to the ski field, called Turoa. This turned out to be a big mistake because although the road is sealed all the way to the top, it is narrow, icy and without barriers to stop cars from plunging off the edge. I drove very slowly and carefully but still slipped on one corner and was in an absolute panic by the time we reached the carpark. There was no way I was going to enjoy myself after that knowing that we still had to somehow get back down the mountain.
Elizabeth was in a very grizzly mood the entire time and our toboggan just did not work very well on the toboggan slope they have so we left almost immediately. I was carrying Elizabeth through the carpark back to our car and at one point I lost my footing on the ice and slipped, throwing her to the ground. She landed on her back/bottom and hit her head. By the time the crying had subsided, we continued on to our car with Elizabeth walking by herself and she slipped and fell to the ground a second time. Finally we got to our car which was tightly packed in with hundreds of other cars on a very icy surface and very close to the edge of the cliff. There was absolutely no barrier either! I got Ben to help direct me from outside the car while I cautiously reversed out of the space and managed to get stuck on a bump. I was not moving anywhere and becoming more and more hysterical until we had a small crowd of spectators around and a few gave me a push. I made it over the bump but was in such a state that one fellow, a South African man called Hector (who smelt faintly of booze and cigarettes), offered to drive us back down the mountain. I leapt at the offer and jumped in the back of the car and shut my eyes. Ben was also willing to take the steering wheel and drive us down but dear, sweet Ben has difficulty reversing down our driveway in Auckland and I once had to rescue him when he got the car wedged up against a tree, so Hector seemed a safer option. And Hector delivered the goods: we were safely at the bottom in less than 10 minutes.
After that, we decided to sit on the sofa in our holiday home, watch a dvd, and cough up some phlegm.
I did take a couple of photos of the Turoa ski field while we were there, which I found a little disappointing. It’s the first ski field I’ve seen in New Zealand and it looked very uninviting, very steep and the only place to buy coffee was an overpriced cafeteria-style building. I’m probably a spoilt brat though because I learnt to ski in Norway and nothing in the Southern Hemisphere compares to that.
One thing I did love about our trip was the cold. I loved getting to enjoy the crisp, cold, frosty morning that I used to love about Christchurch. I rugged myself up like a snowman and ventured out feeling snug and warm with biting cold against my face and it was glorious. I miss that. I actually feel colder in Auckland because my cold weather gear is too warm for Auckland and our house is cold.
|Crunchy frost on the grass|
|Our frosty car in the morning|