Thursday, March 30, 2023

Mt Ruapehu

Ruapehu rises in the night sky over the mountain village of Ohakune

Greetings from Ohakune, at the southern end of Tongariro National Park. That's not my photo above, but it's a good one, showcasing the scale of the largest active volcano in NZ. Mt Ruapehu's three peaks offer two ski fields and the surrounding area is a dream for mountain bikers and walkers.

This pic is ours. For flatlanders,
it's a surprise to look up from a morning stroll and see this


Of course we stopped at the grocery here. These were seductive but I passed.

We left the northern part of Tongariro yesterday and drove an hour south to Ohakune, to be closer to Ruapehu and its massive presence.

Only a USian would mis-interpret that second pictogram as an automatic weapon. Or possibly only me.

Today we hiked the Mangawhero Forest Walk. We always feel better in the trees.

Captain Cook made beer

 On the walk back to our lodging, we stopped at Frank's Eatery and Bar.

Looks like a sweet spot for breakfast or lunch. Art caught a glimpse of the eggs bennie and that might prompt a return for first meal tomorrow.

This flat white especially for Kathy, 
who wondered if we were still smitten (absolutely yes)

Back home for some laundry, a little sun sitting, and a supper of smoked fish with rice and all these bits. Tomorrow more Ruapehu...


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Volcano Out The Kitchen Window: Tongariro National Park


In the mountains, the air is perfectly clear and quenching, there's not a hint of road noise, and you park once and walk everywhere. And then, as just happened while I was writing you, a snowstorm blows through for 90 seconds on a sunny day and all you can do is laugh.

Mt Ruapehu at left, Ngauruhoe at right

Tongariro became New Zealand’s first national park in 1887. Just over one hundred years later, the park was awarded dual UNESCO World Heritage status for both its cultural significance to the Māori people, as well as its outstanding natural features.

The 80,000-hectare park is a spectacular showcase of volcanic wonders including emerald lakes, old lava flows, steaming craters, colourful silica terraces and peculiar alpine gardens. It is an environment of staggering beauty and diversity.

Three volcanoes – Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro – mark the southern limits of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, the horseshoe-shaped series of volcanic phenomena that make up the Pacific Ocean’s ‘Ring of Fire’.

Volcanic activity started here around two million years ago and continues to this day. Ruapehu and Tongariro, which date back before the last ice age, are two of the most active composite volcanoes in the world, with Ruapehu last erupting in 1996. Ngauruhoe – geologically considered a ‘vent’ – last erupted in 1975.

Catching up: back on Lake Taupo Art beach-picked a new hat.

On the drive to Tongariro National Park we stopped for gas and got more than full service.

Because we're without a caravan we're staying in a cabin on the park grounds, a short walk from the beautifully maintained walking tracks.

The cabin has a generous kitchen, which we've put to good use sauteing snapper.

And a lovely little deck.


You could all be staying here with us in the extra sets of bunks. Each day we say hello to folks from all over the world who are here for the hikes, but people also come in winter to ski.

We've been walking the various tracks and enjoying it immensely. This is our kind of biosphere.

There's enormous variation in landscape.

The volcano revealed itself slowly this morning, wearing its very own weather system like a necklace.

Cheers from under the volcano. Tomorrow we're going to move to a different part of this same park for some fresh vistas.


Monday, March 27, 2023

NZ Green Lipped Mussels for Dinner

Happily, they sell these at the grocery. Easy to saute a little garlic in butter, toss the mussels in, add some lemon/water/wine, and put a lid on it. 15 minutes later, all we're missing is Rob's sourdough...

Saturday, March 25, 2023

The Waitahanui River

What a day to step softly or gently cast a fly upon the moving waters. The Waitahanui river is a fly fisher's dream and our idea of a perfect walk. We got lost in the reserve each time we entered.

The original Waitahanui Lodge (we're staying in the 1950s version) was built in 1932 on 2.5 acres by ex-pat Englishman Fred Fletcher. He and his family worked from dawn until dark in the middle of winter to get the lodge up. 

In those days, the trout being caught here often weighed more than 20 pounds.

The old weatherboard lodge consisted of a dining room, kitchen, living room, and sleeping for nine, no electricity or running water, but most certainly a smokehouse to smoke trout and also to cure wild pork and venison.

In the early days there was no limit on the catch and word soon got out. Before long people from around NZ and the world came to stay, including diplomats and English royalty (who, it has been noted, were treated just the same as everyone else). In the 1950s, the lodge was rebuilt into individual units, still spartan by today's standards.

Look at the clarity of this water.

We walked the dreamy river on each of the three mornings we awoke here, occasionally speaking to the fishers, women and men skilled at arcing a line elegantly across the sky. More on the fishing here.

The reserve is just across the street from our small space, where we've awakened to the sound of waves each day.

2023 stats

Self-contained accommodation is common here and includes a kitchen and bathroom. I wrangled that oven-top electric range at left until we got meals from it.

Last night Art grilled on the gas grill just outside our door. We wanted burgers.

Here's a curious product, ground coffee in bags, kind of like tea. These came with the room so I tried them and was as underwhelmed with the result as I was in 2019.

It's summer's end and tomatoes are still decent, though not unsprayed. The meat was delectable.