Day 13: Capitol city NZ

Waking up to an overcast sky is never good when on holiday, but seeing today also is really cloudy and wet is somewhat reassuring. We know today we can’t walk the Crossing as we have to leave town to go to Wellington, but in this weather it wouldn’t be nice at all.
Even though the wind has gone down it is still quite cold and wet, and as it has been raining all night the track would be in a miserable state anyway.

The shuttle left for the starting point of the track today, so the conditions have been deemed good enough for people to do the walk. But not us.

The good thing is that the mountains are showing themselves through short glimpses of snow capped peaks through the grey cloudy mass. And that is very picturesque. 🙂

The drive to Wellington is quite long clocking in at around 4 hours. With our show pace it took us about 5 hours, which meant we arrived at the Trinity Hotel around 1 PM.
That gave us plenty of time to go walk around in the city.

With only 200K people living in the city itself it is quite small (1/7th) compared to Auckland. But it definitely feels like a big city anyway. It has a very busy centre, with everything you can think of very close. The hotel is right in the middle of it with everything at a few minutes walking distance.

We took the cable car up the hill towards the Botanical Gardens to get a bus drive to Zealandia. But with today being Boxing Day, the shuttle didn’t show up which meant we couldn’t go to the park in time for us to meaningfully visit it. Too bad! Zealandia has a large array of native animals on display, and probably one of the only chances for us to see a Kiwi in NZ.

Instead we wandered around in the Botanical Gardens and enjoyed some refreshments on the streets.
We have to do some serious packing today, as tomorrow we will be on a boat without our trusty Mazda 3!
The rental company does not want its cars to cross over, so we have to return this one only to get a new one on the other side of the three hours ferry ride.
Tomorrow, we’ll be on another island!

Day 11: Driving to Tongariro NP

Today, we woke up to the slight sulphurous odour which seems to be ever present in Rotorua.

Because this smell has a reason for which the tourists come to this place, us included, we said our goodbyes to the host John and drove out of town towards our next destination: Tongariro National Park.
After a short drive though we decided to stop at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, as it is the biggest and most visited thermal site in the region.
And no, the site is not as cheesy as the name seems to point at. 😀

Unfortunately for us the weather is completely overcast with clouds, and is a completely different story from what it used to be the last couple of days. The temperature also plummeted about 7 degrees, down to about 18 from a very cosy 25 to 27.
With colours in the park like they are at Wai-O-Tapu it is a shame they don’t come out that good with this dimmed light. Oh well…

The site itself is actually really nice to be! It hosts mud polls, a semi man made geyser (every 24 hour they disturb it to blow, otherwise it would be on an irregular 24 to 36 hour schedule), several collapsed craters, fumaroles, huge sinter fields, hot and cold pools, several blast craters where the hydrothermal blasts took place and much more.

Best of it all is the very accessible walkway with the self guided tour of the site. The worst part is that you are not alone in the park, it is quite the tourist attraction where also the big buses go.

Around 2 we finished the tour of the park and decided it would be best to drive the rest of the distance to Tongariro NP as we didn’t want to be too tired tomorrow: we plan on walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing!

The weather right now in Tongariro is quite miserable, and might not get much better tomorrow. We have made the right arrangements and will see first thing tomorrow when we wake up.