Folk had invited us to come visit between now and the day we needed to be at Tauramanui to start the canoe section of the TA.  Our friends the Wilsons from Auckland who were holidaying at Ohope Beach near Whakatane and our friends Colin and Elly who had relocated to Gisborne from Christchurch.  Mike and Karen from the US (we did the Tongariro Crossing with Mike) also invited us to stay in Turangi where they had a large time-share place for a week with the offer to pick us up.

A guilty feeling at the lack of boot sole to earth also simmered.  Apart from the crossing itself, we have been treading water in anticipation to canoe since the descent out of the Pirongia’s.  Too many options each with their logistical pro’s and con’s.  Furthermore, BClaire’s brother and family were going to be in Taupo for New Year’s Eve and thus added additional decision making to the mix as to whether we catch up with them to sing ‘auld lang syne’ as mid-night ticks over.

The Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk located in Te Urewera National Park was also attractive as something to explore and discover.  However, further research showed all the huts and tent sites were fully booked and so squashed that as an option.  The having to compete as a native New Zealanders on our own terra firma is rampant at this time of the year.

We were ready and waiting when Mike and Karen picked us up.  We headed for the Whakapapa Village and stopped off at a couple of roadside walks.  The snow fed Tawhai Falls were beautiful as they cascaded over a three metre or so drop.  The water looked inviting.  It also looked cold.

The Visitors Centre at Whakapapa was informative.  The video showing volcanic eruption footage reminded us that we live on an ever-changing planet crust surface.  The snow peak mountain backdrop today was quiet behind the Tongariro Chateau Hotel.  We ventured into the foyer wearing our trekking apparel and boots to be asked if we were lost?

“No, we are just showing our American friends where they could come and stay to ski during the winter months.  Is there somewhere where they could land their helicopter?”

Mike and Karen don’t own a helicopter.  Mike parking the pregnant roller skate on an angle where the back wheel was up on the curb was hilarious.  Thank goodness that was parked up the street otherwise we would have been evicted there and then due to us not looking the part!  The Chateau is worth a squiz if up this neck of the woods.  As was he drive up to the ski field itself.

Another roadside stop at Te Porere Redoubt where the last major battle of the New Zealand Wars was fought in October 1869.  Te Kooti was defeated by a combined force of Armed Constabulary and Māori fighters ‘from all points of the compass’.  The preserved earth fortifications remind us of our significance as a people to protect our Aotearoa lands.  More so today from foreign purchase and ownership.

Turangi is at the bottom of Lake Taupo when looking at a map of New Zealand.  The Desert Road forks into it from the south and is generally a through town for travelers to stop, refuel and grab a bite to eat.  It swells at this time of the year due to our summer holiday season.

We now making up the numbers!