Road trips are, generally, a fairly standard part of any travelling jaunt. Key things to remember, if possible, are to avoid pulse based curry dishes the night before, unless the outside air temperature is sufficient that you can drive with the windows open. In our case, this wasn’t possible, and the road trip was necessitated after the lentil curry had been consumed. Let me just say that the sulphurous smell therefore couldn’t entirely be attributed to the volcano dotted landscape that we were passing through.
I have achieved, through the medium of the internet, job boards, e-mail and phone, to find both Vera and I employment in a small holiday lodge which sits just on the edge of the Tongariro National Park, right in the middle of the North island’s volcano territory. Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park, formed in 1887, as well as a World Heritage area – suffice to say the views are pretty spectacular.
The snow capped and almost perfectly conical cone of Mt Ngauruhoe (2287m) looms impressively within the park, accompanied by Mt. Ruapehu (the highest at 2797m) and Mt Tongariro (1967m). For the Lord of the Rings fans amongst you, this was the place chosen to be Mordor, and Mt Ngauruhoe (pictured top right) was Mount Doom. Where the ring that caused all the trouble was both forged and then, well, you know the rest. They are all, from what I can tell, still classed as active. Excellent.
Tongariro is also home to what could be argued is New Zealand’s finest single day walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This takes you right up into the mountains and around the snowy peaks and craters – which I believe come complete with bubbling pools. This, as you can imagine, is very high up on my to do list. As well as the numerous other walks in the area. I can’t wait.
In terms of the work, in case you were wondering why we are stopping to work when we are “travelling”, it’s a necessity of the lifestyle – sadly no-one is paying me to tell you about my adventures, or otherwise funding my life in any other way, so earning some cash seemed like a sensible idea to keep us going for longer and longer.
A common way for backpackers to earn their accommodation is to do a few hours help at their hostel – we are doing this plus helping out with the general running of the lodge and the cafe at the front. And I can’t argue with the location, even if we are only 400 or so metres below the snow line and the current temperature, even on cloudless days, could best be described as bracing, particularly in the mornings. Although by afternoon the temperature has usually climbed happily into the mid twenties. I am told that thirty is not uncommon come the summer time.
And yes, there is snow – and folk are still skiing on it for the last few days of the season. It’s an absolutely stunning location, and I’m delighted we found ourselves here, where we can find out more about the Kiwi lifestyle, meet all kinds of people, and soak in the seriously natural beauty of the environment. Plus have one or two beers on the way. I’ll let you know how the whole things works out right here 🙂