Sunday, January 26, 2014

3.1.5 - Tongariro National Park

Hello friends.

On wednesday, my parents came to town after spending a few days in Melbourne at the Australian Open ( Happy 25th Anniversary!). The stopped in Wellington only to see their oldest and favorite son. It was great to see them, but the thing Davis and I were most excited was to have a meal outside the Weir House. Being used to slimy lunch me and curry flavored everything, the steak dinner Mom and Dad took us to was PHENOMENAL. Seriously, I can't stress how amazing those steaks were.

The next day, the 'rents shipped out to Queenstown, and on the other end of the country the entire Pacific Program piled on to 2 separate buses. The red bus, which is clearly the superior bus, was full of all the non BIO 2100 students (and thus Davis and I) and the yellow bus had a lovely ride with our fearless leader and sometimes dictator, David Garton. I was awake for about 7 minutes total on the 5 hour ride, while the yellow bus received a lecture from DG (nickname credits to Davis, which has now been adopted by the whole program) every 15 minutes, just to make sure that everyone stayed awake. But after a long ride and stop at the Tangiwai Rail Disaster Memorial Site, we arrived in Taupo to our "luxury" accommodations.
The Memorial for the Rail Disaster

After an evening of more good food (aka not Weir House food) we woke up at 7am to head to out on our guided hike to the Tama Lakes. Our guide, Daryl, was a part of local Moari tribe in the Taupo region, so he had lots of insights about the land scape around us as we trekked from the Whakapapa Ski Field to the base of Mt. Ngauruhoe. He told of Moari legends about how the volcanos had souls, and walked around to find a husband or wife, Tongariro being the biggest and most significant to their traditions. He also told us of Tama, one of the first of the Moari leaders to land on the North Island in his Waka (war canoe). The hike was gorgeous, with amazing waterfalls and pure blue lakes at the base of some of the coolest volcanoes you can imagine.

Davis and I at Taranaki Falls
Lower Tama Lake
Upper Tama Lake
The next day (Saturday for those struggling to follow), Davis and I split our separate ways. I let him edit the post to talk about the fishing he did, but I'm here to tell y'all about my absolutely awe inspiring day on the 25th.

Davis dropped me off at the base of Ruapehu around noon, and I set off to summit the beast. Mt. Ruapehu is the tallest Volcano in New Zealand as well as being the most active in recent history. The last major eruption was in 1995, with the most recent being in 2007. The hike begins with a ride on a ski lift from 1000m to 2020m, then a climb up a marked trail to 2300m, and a final rock scrambling accent to 2732m to Te Heuheu. Once you hit the summit, its a scenic walk on the crater ridge lines around the Plateu Glacier to Crater Lake, a body of water that has formed in the mouth of the volcano. Heres the pictures detailing my accent. Keep in mind, I was by myself, so most of the pictures are awkward self timer shots...

Lunch stop at beginning of unmarked trail
Summit (Mt. Ngauruhoe in the background)
Summit Plateau Glacier
(if you look closely at the right skyline, you'll see Mt. Taranaki) 
Crater Ridge
Crater Lake
Crater Lake again
Beginning the windy descent
Whangaehu Glacier

The hike was absolutely amazing. It was one of two times I've ever seen something that was so beautiful, it quite literally took my breathe away and almost brought me to tears (the other being the finish line in Louisville). I'd recommend anyone who comes to NZ do this climb. It'll change your life.


Davis here! So after I dropped off Evan at the Ski lifts I was back in the car to get Hailey back in Taupo to go fly fishing. I grabbed Hailey and a bite of lunch and we stopped into the local fly shop to ask for some advice.
Our "Hamster Ball" looking as cool as it ever will
One note about "fly shops" in this country. I was expecting to find a situation similar to what is seen in the American West. That is, in every major town with trout fishing around, there are two maybe three fly shops. These shops are where you get flies, equipment, information, and possibly book a guide. That's what I was expecting to find in New Zealand as well, but I was pretty shocked to find that there are almost no fly shops. Instead the best place to get knowledge and flies is a store called Hunting and Fishing. In this store it basically a Bass Pro Shop but super scaled down. I guess that there is so much demand for guides that they can make money without also working out of a designated fly shop. But who knows. None the less, we are directed to the Tongario River and told that the cicadas were the go to fly.

Hailey's first awesome rainbow around 22"
We got all suited up and had about 3 hours until we were to pick up Evan. About this river, I'll just say this is when I finally "got" how awesome the fishing is in the country. The water was gin clear and wadeable. You were casting to rising trout and could see many more. We talked to one guy that said he caught an 8lb brown trout the other day! So we get out on the the river and we had a decent day. Hailey caught two awesome rainbows. I had two strikes but unfortunately none on the line.
This one was around 24" and starting to get a little spawning hooked nose
All in all it was a good day on the water and an overall good weekend although I have yet to catch a fish in this country. Hopefully Thursday with a guide it'll happen. We have a short week this week as we fly out to Queenstown, NZ on Wednesday afternoon! Please pray for safe travels, safe adventure, and that we can concentrate on schoolwork when needed. We miss and love you all!

God Bless,


3.1.4 - Abel Tasman

So between school, traveling, and the pure awesomeness of this country, it's been a while since we've posted. Theres a couple updates, so we'll split them up into a couple posts. More reading for y'all!

Picton Ferry
Two weekends ago, the gang pilled up on a ferry and headed across the Cook Straight to Picton. There we picked up a van/microbus Davis lovingly named Ho-Oh (If you don't get the reference you had an unfortunate childhood). We then road tripped all the way to Motueka and stayed at one of the nicest hostels I've every seen. That night Davis and I headed out to the Motueka River to do a little fishing. We unfortunately didn't catch anything, but I did get about 70 bug bites on my legs. And these aren't just your average mosquito bites, these things are big, nasty, and still going strong 10 days later... not fun.

Rollin deep in the microbus
The Motueka River
The next morning we drove over to Marahau, and picked up the some sea kayaks. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into... We put on in Sandy Bay, and were told its a quick 4 or 5 hour paddle to our campsite at The Anchorage, which is about 9km away. We hit the water, and there first thing you notice is how unbelievably blue the water is. You could see straight to the bottom, then you'd look up to the gorgeous island scenery around you. We were paddling around in awe for about an hour when we stopped for lunch on a beach just under half way from our campsite.

Davis is going hard

Thats when things got crazy. There was an island across for our beach that is known for all the seals that live there, so of course we started the paddle across. Then the winds came. It started as a calm breeze, but by the time we hit island, the winds were hitting speeds of at least 30 mph. Straight into our faces. The group was about 14 deep, most of whom were ADPi's who had never been in a kayak, so needless to say people were not happy. After some serious selling, I convinced everyone to paddle over to a sheltered bay on the island were we could hopefully wait out the wind.

Davis' Paint skills outlining the route

Black sand beaches
We sat in that little cove for about 2 hours, but the hurricane force gales kept coming. So finally, we made a break for the seal's rocky beach. We paddled our hearts out and when we got there, THERE WERE NO FREAKING SEALS! I guess even they knew how windy it was, so they took cover. From there the group split up into to groups, the weak, and the strong. The quitters and the winners. The defeated and the triumphant. Most people paddled across the bay one last time, and hiked about 45 minutes to our campsite over the ridge, but a small group of brave souls continued on into a section of water known only as "The Death Mile".

Te Pukatea

This mile the most exposed portion of the paddle, with no bays or coves for cover, and no island protecting you from the wind. It's basically paddling the open ocean. During this portion, I was in a solo 17 ft kayak, and Davis and our friend Hailey were in a 20ft double. When we hit the open section, the wind instantly picked up, and the waves went from about 3 or 4 ft, to 7 ft tall swells. It was amazingly difficult paddling, but at the same time, it was some of the most fun I've had in New Zealand yet. Right before you get all the way through the death mile, there is one stop called Te Pukatea Bay. It is a beautiful beach, and its the most photograph location in the entire park. It was a great little rest stop, and I took one of the most glorious naps of my life on that sand. We made it to the campsite around 7 pm, a full 8 hours after we put on the water. It was the best night's sleep I had had in a very long time.

The next morning we shoved off around 7:30, and it was like an entirely different universe. the water was almost perfectly still, and the wind was no where to be found. we had a short 3 hour paddle back to Marahau, and then headed back to Picton to hop of the ferry. On the way, we crossed over a bridge and so some people swimming in the river below, so of course we pulled over for a quick dip. The river was a bit chilly, but it was some fun cliff jumping and helped get all the salt of our smelly bodies. Despite all we had been (and paddled) through, the weekend was definitely a success. Though we did have a couple of people swear that they'd never get in a sea kayak again (Maggie).

There's more to come,