Dave offering to drop us off at Te Kuiti but driving us the whole way to Tauramanui was awesome.  The rolling farmland with weathered hillsides lush in green was a total contrast to the flat lands of Canterbury.  The is beauty in ruggedness.

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Dave, Steph and Max from the YHA Hostel ‘Juno Hall’ have been exceptional.  If there was any a time to re-invent one’s lifestyle choices to manage a back packers hostel, then this experience was it.  It’s all in the personality of the person to make a hostel a home away from home with parent surrogacy to some of the patrons.  As much as it is to tell someone whom believes the customer is always right to move on however, disrespects hospitality.  That is putting it bluntly with politeness.  We loved it.

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Two further hitches and we arrived at Tongariro National Park.  In the distance was the pathway we came to conquer, the Tongariro Crossing.

Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu, and Mt Ngauruhoe (known by many a tourist as Mount Doom from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy) were shrouded in cloud.  A volcanic grouping with Ruapehu being the North Islands highest peak at 2797m (9176ft).

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It can drop to below zero Celsius at height and the wind chill factor has been known to freeze bones to near death.  But get a stunning day with clear blue skies, and sun block needs to be applied to prevent sun burn.

By evening, the cloud had dispersed and it revealed the topography with splendour and awe.  Tis the day before Christmas and there were no Christmas socks hung this year.

Only the ones to be worn tomorrow.

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