Friday, January 16, 2015

Tongariro Crossing II

Discovery Lodge cabins and Mount Ngauruhoe

Chateau Tongariro and Mount Ruapehu
A visiting cousin seemed like a good reason to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing a second time. Actually, I wanted to run it, but I was vetoed. There are not a lot of accommodation options near the Tongariro Crossing. We opted for a cabin at the Discovery Lodge. They are slightly bigger inside than they appear. Next time, I am going with a bigger budget and staying at the nearby Chateau Tongariro. Maybe Nico can come.

Steven Lasko climbing Mount Doom
Because my cousin is an experienced mountain climber, and also because he is somewhat of a Lord of the Rings fan, and also, also because 19.4 km is just not long enough to walk for some people, our hike had to include an ascent of Mount Ngauruhoe. Hobbits aside, climbing Mount Ngauruhoe is less fun that in sounds. It is steep, sandy, and really, really high. 

When the clouds clear, the view from the top (or near the top for this picture) is unbelievable.
The most emerald of the Emerald Lakes

                                                 ` Total walking time was a little over 11 hours. I am so running next time.

Friday, January 02, 2015

At the bach with the whanau

We decided to get out of town for a low key Kiwi New Year's. Not too far out of town, but far enough to realize forgetting garbage bags was a bad idea. Our home for the long weekend (did I mention the day after New Year's Day is a public holiday in New Zealand?) was a bach in Porangahau belonging to my employer. The bach might be the only benefit I get through work. Notice the peeling door. The price was right, and after mopping the floors and cleaning the bathroom, it was almost livable.

Many consider Porangahau to be Hawke's Bay's finest beach. On the plus side, it is 16 km of sand and mostly deserted. The big minus for me is the gently sloping high-low tide zone. At low tide, it is a long, long walk to the water over wet sand so fine that it feels like mud. At high tide, there's hardly any beach. Probably if it had not been so windy all weekend, I would have liked the beach better. I took the surfboard out for about 5 minutes and caught a pretty small and poorly formed wave, just so I could tell people I went surfing.

Walking around the small beach town, I noticed a fundamental difference between Kiwis and Americans. In the US, if your family own a vacation home, you probably have a schedule with your siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles clearly noting when you can use it. In New Zealand, somebody in your family always owns a bach, and everyone just shows up together. There are about 14 vehicles parked in front of this one, including a tractor...because how else are you going to move your boat?

Here's Mr. Whippy--he stopped in front of our bach, much to the Lasko Girls' delight. Nicole thought Zooey sitting in our (peeling) doorway eating an ice cream cone looked very third world. Unfortunately, that photo did not come out very well.

Here is Zooey without an ice cream cone, sitting in our doorway and looking only a little third world.