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Thursday 24th June - Whakapapa to Wellington
By Claire
Friday, 25th June 2004 08:15

I didn't want to check out of the hotel, but they insisted. It was dull and overcast anyway, so we'd had the best of the weather. Although it was cold, much of the snow had melted and while there was still a lot of snow, and snowmen and snowboarding ramps, on the golf course, most of the trees were back to green again.

We stopped briefly in a village mentioned in the Lord of the Rings guidebook but the location itself would have been under snow in the ski fields, so we carried on to a river in a canyon, that was a long way down and quite fast. It was also home to the North Island's highest bungy jump (still not tempted) and an incredible death-slide that apparently reaches speeds of 100mph (slightly more tempted, but not that much more!). You go down head-first on that one.

The road to this river wound through some wonderful countryside, and I particularly loved the small conical hills scattered through the fields - they were only five to twenty feet tall, and there were masses of them along with tiny circular lakes, so it was like a field of miniature volcanoes. We stopped to take photos.

Miniature volcanoes

After a couple more hours we stopped at another river, one where I think a hobbit, an elf and a horse did something in the film. I can't remember, I've only seen the films one and a half times, but the river is actually four rivers, so we've seen half of them now. I got a bit lost on the way back to the car and Mikey came to rescue me, which was nice. It was getting dark, and I suggested the slightly more scenic mountain route to Wellington, which took over an hour and was blind bends on a single-track road. Serves Mikey right though - I'm the navigator (which is unfortunate cos I can only navigate northwards and we're heading south almost the entire time) but I caught Mikey sneaking a look at the map before I got in the car earlier, and discovered that he doesn't need my uncanny sense of direction at all. Anyway, we managed the mountain road, Mikey took a wrong turning in Wellington and the first three hostels we tried only had dormitories.

We finally found somewhere to stay, though, which was quite a shock after our lovely resort hotel. Nevermind. We went for a walk into Wellington, as we'd driven about 300 miles today, bought a sandwich and came back to the hostel. Mikey's claiming to be asking about ferries, but I suspect he's found the bar downstairs, and I'm aching from climbing walls and fighting snow drifts, so I'm going to sleep. Will just check my mail first, though.

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