16 January - Stayed overnight in a B & B in Wellington after a smooth crossing yesterday through the Cook Strait. Left Wellington heading for Wanganui but changed our minds and headed towards Lake Taupo. Tar was melting on the roads it was so hot. Stopped off on the way in a little town called Feilding which has been nominated as New Zealands best kept town for a number of years. Camped overnight in Taihape.
17 January - Set off across the desert road and set up camp in Tokaanu which is at the southern end of Lake Taupo. The terrain in this area is very different - its a volcanic area. Very quiet camp site except that in the night we could hear cracking of twigs and lots of strange noises - when Pat investigated he discovered it was a number of possums scurrying around and going up and down the trees!
18 January - Walked around Lake Rotopounamu which was a lovely lake set in the Tongariro National Park. Later we went and sat by Lake Taupo (which is the largest lake in New Zealand) and chilled out with a couple of beers. When we got back to the camp site we had a dip in the hot mineral pools.
19 January - Went to Whakapapa Village which is in the Tongariro National Park. Drove up to Iwika (Whakapapa Ski Area). This was an amazing volcanic landscape, looked quite desolate - like a lunar landscape. Mount Ruapeha is still an active volcano and last erupted on 25 September 07! We had lovely views of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. Walked to Taranaki Falls which was a lovely 2 hour walk but a bit breezy. On the way back we went to Tokaanu Thermal pools and springs which is just over the road from our camp site. It was unbelieveable to see pools of water and mud bubbling and steaming so near to where we were staying. The Maoris actually cook over the hot steaming ground.
20 January - Drove up to Taupo and went to see Huka Falls which were quite impressive and have the largest volume of water of any falls that we've seen. Next we went to see the Craters of the Moon which are lots of huge steaming craters and bubbling mud pools. It looked liked the area had been bombed. In the afternoon we decided to sit by Lake Taupo but when we got there it was blowing a gale and the waves on the lake were huge. We'd heard reports on the radio that a tropical storm was heading our way so we decided to pack up the tent and stay in accommodation on the site.
21 January - Moved on to the Taranaki district travelling across the Forgotten World Highway. Interesting road - not too bad to begin with then got quite windy and narrow. About half way (75 km) the road became unsealed and stony for about 10 km! This was supposed to be a major highway! Again the terrain was quite different with rolling hills to begin with that looked like telly tubby land and then became more like Jurassic Park - very tropical, bush land with high sided rocky cliffs. Decided to stay in accommodation in a place called Stratford and thank goodness we did as the remnants of the tropical storm has just hit us.
22 January - Woke up to a very windy and wet day so have come in to New Plymouth to add to our blog. Hopefully tomorrow we can explore some of the National Park and see Mount Taranaki.