New Zealand ‘03: October 17, 2003

Tongariro National Park XI
Tongariro National Park XI, by Christoph Rupprecht (Focx Photography), CC-BY-SA2.0

Greetings from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Ah, but this life is sweet.  Yesterday we awoke to the sound of (unidentified) birds chirruping in the tress, the morning light softly breaking o’er the majestic mountains and a brand new day promising delight and adventure to our hearts content.

Things were briefly tainted – but not prolongingly so – by the minus degree temperature … and my tripping over the hostel cat on the way to the showers.

Today we have been challenging ourselves to the landscape.  The gnome that is my companion suggested we attempt one of the tramps that New Zealand is famed for.

A “tramp” – for those uncultured couths reading this message, is a hike through beautiful and outright outstanding scenery.


We specifically came to Turangi to do the Tongariro Crossing – which is a six hour walk across volcanic landscape.  But on arrival, we were informed that the crossing had been closed due to adverse weather: a mere 220cm of snow and winds of 40km per hour. The kind that not only knocks you over, but stops to fart on your head before skipping merrily on its way.

You should have seen Cake’s face as the guy was talking!  I think she was glad that we couldn’t do it in the end: something to do with actually climbing up mountains that someone had forgotten to mention to her before we got here!!

And so we settled for the Taranaki Falls Walk (only a mere three hours) in the amazing Tongoriro National Park.  I received greater delight when I learned that the village from which the walk started and ended was called Whakapapa (Pronounced “fucker-papa” – it’s true, it’s true, it’s true…).


And I am glad to report that I completed over four hours of mountain trekking and lived to tell the tale.  The air was so clear that I felt like a nimble mountain goat.

This said, it is only fair that I admit that one of the ladies we met on the bus on the way up there beat our time by forty minutes.  The fact that she is sixty-four and looks like everyone’s favourite granny is beside the point!

She was wonderful.  We spent the journey back talking about travelling (She was in Thailand earlier this year); why she didn’t go skiing this time round (She has the National Lifeguard Championships next month and didn’t want to risk an injury: she broke her leg last year – from surfing!!); and her reason for wanting to go to Jamaica (Rum – gold, 100% proof). 

She also spent time trying to convince us to try something called “Dam Jumping”.  This basically involves sliding down fast rivers on a toboggan, dropping off the waterfall at the end and then climbing back up the rock face to do it all over again.

I am unable to elaborate further on this revolutionary sport as I was experiencing palpitations on listening to her tale and the loudness of my heartbeat quite drowned out the finer details.


Not content with that, we hooked up with Dave and Jodie (an Australian couple) who persuaded us to stay with them in Taupo and spent the night quaffing at Mulligan’s – an Irish pub that doesn’t sell Guinness; and where we met Kara and Pepe – two authentic Māoris, who I have invited over to share our homes and our lives.

And so we venture on over to the east coast to see what it has to offer.  Sing with me now: sheep, sheep, sheep … (Repeat with harmonies and drum rhythms of your choice).

At some stage, I will stop enjoying myself long enough to pen you all a few appropriate lines on the back of a scenic postcard. I promise to do this before reaching the airport.

The Lady McWog™

Dearest Papa –

You have gotta come here!  The Māoris are even more beautiful in the flesh. 

I have found many potential wives for you and feel it best that you start gathering together the choicest goats for the bridal offer.  In the meantime, please send a photo of yourself so that I can demonstrate the high specimen of husbandry that you are.

Alternatively, please send a large barrel so I can smuggle one back for you.

I would appreciate your feedback on developing my travel writing style. Please use the Rate This and Like This buttons as the quickest means of leaving an opinion. If you have time or feel moved to, please leave a comment. Thanks muchly for your time and your criticism. 🙂


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AUTHOR: I am might war. I have a love of music, the written word, travel, Anime, polar bears, people and “sticking and colouring”.

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