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24-26 Feb 2013

Including Tongariro area, 35th Wedding Anniversary & the Forgotten World Highway ending at the Republic of Whangamomona

New Zealand, Tongariro area 24-26 feb 2013, whangamomona, national park, lake taupo triathlon, ruepehi, 35th Wedding Anniversary, covering amongst others 203 selective slideshow images, highway 43 to the republic of whangamomona, national park anniversary meal, Tongariro, mount doom, Tongariro Alpine crossing walk, ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe, Raurimu Spiral, 35th wedding anniversary, day & meal, volcanoes, active and otherwise, the shaky isles, aotearoa, Maori influence, chateau tongariro, black swans, lake rotiari, station restaurant, kumara, forgotten world highway i.e state highway 43, gravel roads, tranz scenic railway better known as the Northern Explorer, tawai falls, gollums pool, makatote viaduct, waikato river, totara, pohutakawa, republic of whanga, turangi, tracks, Tawhai Falls, Tongariro National Park, targarakau gorge ,tapu island, whakapapa village, desert well maybe, rangipo, huka falls, moki tunnel, hobbit hole, ohakune, raetihi branch bridge, mangateitei stream, waimarino old name for national park railway station, tongariro river, motuopuhi, otunui riverboat landing, taumarunui, herlihy’s bluff, stratford, taranaki, whanga, tahora, republic, passport stamped, heritage trails, New World Supermarket at Turangi. We were previously in this area in 2007 and then again in 2017.

you are now entering the republic of Whangamomona, new Zealand, fab place, quirky, created by KeefH Web Designs for this travel blog
24 feb 13
25 feb 13
26 feb 13
35th Anniversary

Sunday February 24th 2013

Summary, Taupo to Tongariro National Park.

We left the Taupo Top 10 site and went to see Huka Falls again. Despite drought the rapids and falls were still going strong, so majestic. We last visited in 2008 when we went on the rapids jet boat with the kids, great fun. 360 was the call ha-ha.

We drove around Lake Taupo, there was a triathlon taking place today and part of state highway 1 was closed off because of it. We headed for Tongariro National Park. We stopped for a coffee break in a lay-by. We had lunch in a small village Ohakune with a giant carrot, supposedly the Carrot capital of New Zealand.

Here there were lovely views of the 2 active volcanoes, one had snow on its top the other was Mount Doom (from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy of films), its real name of course is Mount Tongariro. They are both famous for the Tongariro Alpine crossing walk.   

We then called in at National Park village to the railway station restaurant and café to book a table for our 35th Wedding Anniversary coming up on the 25th .,tomorrow for 6 p.m. The station is the stop point for the Trans Scenic Railway. It is now called the Northern Explorer and if you like is the sister train journey to the TranzAlpine on South Island.

Some words about this journey are: - The Northern Explorer train service is a scenic rail journey through the five unique geographical regions of the North Island - travelling between Auckland, New Zealand's largest city - home of the Sky Tower, through the central heartland of the North Island to Wellington - New Zealand's harbour capital and arts and culture centre.

Along the way, you will see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, rugged bush landscapes before ascending up the world famous Raurimu Spiral to the volcanic plateau passing the majestic volcanoes of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu - the home of the North Island ski fields and descending through stunning river gorges to the farming landscapes and rocky seascapes of the lower North Island - all from large panoramic windows and the open air viewing deck of the Northern Explorer train.

The Northern Explorer carriages have an advanced air bag suspension system for quieter and smoother travel, un-tinted, non-reflective, panoramic side, and roof windows to capture the dramatic coastal and mountain views of the magnificent North Island. GPS triggered journey commentary in five languages at your seat via headphones, plus information displays and overhead HD video and are centrally heated/air conditioned for passenger comfort. 

We then drove to Whakapapa village and Chateau Tongariro. We went to the campsite in the village and booked 2 nights at $38 a night, good value when one considers the amazing location. We did a walk along the river, rapids, and gorges with a bridge over the rapids. We then did a short nature walk near our van pitch, both great fun and great views.

Anne did some handwashing and Keef cooked dinner, we then took our torches at dusk to look for kiwis along the nature trail , a full moon was helpful, we listened intently for any searching for insects, grubs, or worms in the undergrowth but disappointed to see nothing. Kiwis are amazingly illusive #fact

We then returned to the van for boysenberry wine instead.   

Monday February 25th 2013

Summary, Our 35th Wedding Anniversary Day at Whakapapa Village and tour around Tongariro National Park.

Opened our anniversary card from Linda & Ian. K did bacon cobs for breakfast. We headed north for Turangi direction. On the way stopped to see the archeological remains of a Māori village by a lake which was deserted by 1850 after inter-tribal musket wars. Then we got the view of Lake Taupo and surrounding area from a lookout point.

We saw Sulphur and steam coming out of an active volcano from the road, which were marked on the map as exploding craters. We took lots of photos. In Turangi we looked at shops, a small square of pedestrianised shops. Some were empty. We got hot pies and cakes from a bakery for lunch.

We found out from the info tourist board that the Trans Scenic railway runs from Auckland to Wellington and vice-versa 3 times a week.  Sat in the van and Keef checked emails as there is no wi-fi at the campsite, it is to be expected as so remote. Drove back to the site via Rangipo.

Had showers and got changed for our Anniversary meal at the Station for 6 p.m. We had a lovely meal, 3 courses, wine, and coffee. Keef had a rack of lamb with cracked pepper, kumara and carrot mash, veg in blueberry jus and lime oil. Annie had beef strips in salsa. For pudding we both had banana and macadamia nut spring rolls in a caramel sauce with ice-cream and cream, just yummy!

Podged we returned to the campsite and got changed and went kiwi spotting again with torches, or as it happened not spotting, tee-hee. We think however we did hear one calling in the bushes some distance away but not confirmed.  

Tuesday February 26th 2013

Summary, Whakapapa Village to the Republic of Whangamomona.

It was a very cold night around the Tongariro region, which I guess is understandable with so many mountains. Today’s daytime temperature was 28 degrees centigrade. Nice.

Stopped the van on the outskirts of the village to do the 20-minute waterfall walk. Its start was on the road past the Tongariro chateau and was called the Tawhai falls walk.

We then went onto Turangi again and did some shopping at the New World supermarket there. We then headed to Taumarunui, a small town at the start of the Forgotten World Highway, a heritage tourist route.

Keef checked emails and paid the Barclaycard whilst Annie went to the Tourist Information centre to get stuff about the Forgotten World Highway route. We called in at the McDonald’s for a McFlurry ice-cream before setting off on the heritage route.   

We passed a lavender farm and quite a few farms with sheep, cows, and deer. Venison is now so big in NZ I would suggest it outstrips sheep farming. One farm was sheep shearing in the sheds, we watched. The scenery was very unusual, hobbit-like hills, deep blue gorges and a river that was almost dry. Lots of abandoned sheep farm buildings.

We drove through what was called the Hobbit hole, a tunnel cut through rock about 4.5 meters high and just wide enough for one vehicle, luckily not much traffic on the Forgotten World Highway.

Lots of the hills were volcanic ash and pumice stone, now covered in grass where the Taupo area had erupted millions of years ago.  About 12 kilometers of the highway was gravel road, we had no choice but to travel on it. Fab views of Tongariro in the distance.  

We arrived at Whangamomona at about 5.45 p.m. We took many photos of the hotel and other heritage buildings. The campsite was $20 in the grassed area of the old school. We had a meal in the pub and got our passports stamped as Whanga declared itself a republic in 1986.  It cost $2 to get your passport stamped, rather a touristy gimmick but hey why not, its fun. The history is locals were angry about local boundary changes so went independent and elected a pig as the mayor and even have sentry boxes on the town’s outskirts, ha-ha. There were lots of historical pictures on the pub wall that were fascinating. All in all a great place to visit if you like quirky, we do!

Audio Diary
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