We decide to drive up in to the mountains as the wind was subsiding and the forecast for the higher ground was looking good.
As we drove through The Tongariro National Park, ChateauWhakapapa loomed in the distance with the formidable Mt Ruapehu in the back ground.
We spoke to the guys at the Whakapapa information centre who were still a bit dubious about the weather.I drove as far up the mountain as our poor camper van would let us, we caught a bus the final accent up to the ski field, after speaking to the ski hire guy, we decided to hold off until the following day when the weather was supposed to improve and headed back down the mountain.
After a coffee sitting by the open fire at Chateau Whakapapa we checked in to the camp site, it was cold, bloody cold, nearly as cold as camping at the Perisher ski field in Oz, except this time I was blessed with a little electric heater!
The following morning we headed back up the mountain, the morning had started with clear blue skies and had teased us in to being a perfect day.As we got to the ski field, the weather began to close in.I headed straight out whilst Niall was trying on his fifth pair of ski boots.
After three short runs the weather had closed in and visibility was about two metres.The lower section of the mountain where I was, was fairly busy as the top of the mountain had already been closed.After a couple more runs the weather had closed in even more and it was getting fairly dangerous, one guy had managed to break his collar bone at which point I headed off to get a half day refund on my lift pass and get a coffee.I also managed to unwittingly walk off with the hire helmet, as they given me my deposit back and I was on the bus back down the mountain I thought I'd just call it 1:0 to the little man.
I was pretty pissed off with the crap skiing, but hey at least I can say that I have skied on a live volcano, very live it last erupted in 2007!
I drove back down to the village very carefully as the remnants of a seven car pileup a few days beforehand littered the road side.
With the afternoon to kill, I drove out to the Raurimu railway, which I had read about in the Lonely Planet. It was supposed to be a train spotter's delight with a circular track spiraling down the mountain.As I was only 20km or so away I thought I'd best go and get some photos for Uncle Derek.Well Derek I hope you appreciate the scale model perched on a spike 30ft in the air?From the purpose built lookout tower it was the only train associated thing I could see.There were no real trains or track in sight????Lonely Planet did say 'normal' people wouldn't know what they were looking at, so I hope the photos mean more to you than me!