Arriving at the Base in Taupo, we checked in and somehow managed to get a 3 bed room to ourselves – result! It had an ensuite with an awesome power shower as well which was ideal. We settled in then headed for the hostel kitchen to make a quick lunch before going out to explore the town.
Through the Kiwi Experience we had signed up to trek the world-renowned Tongariro Crossing, an alpine crossing through New Zealand’s oldest national park. Of course, this meant a 4:30am start the next day. We had also been warned that it can get very cold due to the high altidude and winds. You’d have thought we had all the warm clothes we’d need by now but we bought some walking socks and gloves just in case anyway in preparation for the cold crossing.
The weather in the mountains had been bad for the few days before we got there, so it was touch and go whether we’d be able to set out. It was looking hopeful the night before, so we packed our bags the night before, set our alarms and had an early night.
Bleary-eyed, we got up and dressed, and headed down to the hostel lobby for 4:30am. We were waiting for a minibus to pick us up and drive the group to the starting point in the national park. We waited and waited. We waited until the hostel receptionist kindly rang through to the organisers, who then told us that the weather was still too bad in the mountains and therefore the trek was cancelled.
We were gutted, especially having heard all about the beautiful views along the hike as well as getting up so early! There was a group of about fifteen of us who were still keen to go for some type of walk, and we still had our sandwiches packed so we decided to go out to the other side of town for a walk as the sun rose where we had been told there are hot springs.
Lo and behold we did come across some hot springs so we got in our bathers and all had a dip in the hot water. It was a cold day but in the water I overheated surprisingly quickly so didn’t stay in too long.
When we were all too hot and had subsequently dried off and wrapped ourselved back up in our layers, we set off again, walking along the river to the Huka falls. There were great views along the way, (see above) and you could see the water getting faster and faster as we headed downstream until we reached the falls. You can tell how fast the water is going here:
At this point it wasn’t past midday, but considering we’d been up so early, we all had a picnic stop near the falls. Not far from the falls, we came across a cafe and dived in for a round of coffees/hot chocolates/mochas to warm ourselves up. Meandering back into town down the other side of the river, we realised when we got back to the hostel that we’d covered 12km, all by 2pm!
That day was also our new friend Demi’s birthday, so she’d booked a table for a big group of us at an Indian restaurant for that evening. I was very happy as I’d been craving a curry the whole time we were in Austrialia. I ordered my go-to chicken tikka masala and split a garlic naan with Rhianna. It was delicious and I’m now craving a curry as I write this. With a cider to drink it ammounted to the equivalent of £15 too, not bad at all. Waddling back to the hostel, we had a drink in the hostel bar and played a few rounds of beer pong. A great evening to make up for the disappointment of not being able to complete the crossing!
Next stop, River Valley