Thursday, December 17, 2009

NZ - Tongariro; Taupo

My initial intent was to spend two days around Tongariro, but Gitti ended up having to work Thursday.  So we were up early to get on the road for her to start work at 11.  Arriving back in Rotorua pretty early, we bummed about the house a bit before I dropped her off at the bar.  I should’ve stuck around after dropping her off, as I later learned that she had her schedule mixed up: she actually didn’t start work ‘til about 3:30 or so.  Oops.

Leaving Gitti behind, I immediately made my way back to where I came from: through Taupo and back to Tongariro National Park.  Whereas yesterday we drove along its west side, this time around I drove along its east side; and this time I came with the knowledge of which mountain was Mount Doom (though in retrospect, simply looking at the mountains could’ve given it away pretty easily).

After going partway along Desert Road, I turned back and then went around the west side of Lake Taupo & back to Rotorua.  The west side of Lake Taupo offered zilch as far as interesting destinations go, along with very little view of the lake itself.  It was a relaxing drive, though.  My route took me by a bunch of redwoods just east of town – the trees were pretty, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to delve much further past the redwoods.

In Taupo, I stopped by Huka Falls.  The falls are impressive if you really like waterfalls, but aren’t a must-see destination by any means.  It’s neat to see how they’ve carved a high-speed gorge just a couple meters down from the lookouts.  The falls are even more notable, however, for the fact that they are home to the only pay toilets I’ve seen in the entire country.

It was 8:30 when I stopped by the Belgian Bar to check on Gitti.  I met the Swiss guy she’d been talking about and then let her be at work, to return at about 10-ish.  Fortunately the town kept me occupied exactly an hour and a half: souvenir shopping, ice cream, and then some Indian food for dinner.  Yes, ice cream first – dagnabit it’s good ice cream, and everytime I’d swing by the place it’d be closed already.  So I was happy to get a second taste of that ice cream, having gone about 2 weeks without it.

I picked up Gitti and the rest of the night was generally spent bumming around at the house watching TV.  Along with Ash, we stayed up watching some documentary show following a police unit that tracks missing persons, of which one was a backpacker in Australia.  Go figure that it ends with a “on the next episode” degree of closure, except in their summary of the next episode they totally neglected to mention the backpacker story they’d been developing this whole show.  So that was a let-down… we all dispersed to bed as soon as our hearts were broken by the end of the show and its lack of closinating closing sorts of closure.

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