Well we finally made it out of Ohakune. Actually the weather has been kind to us. We had no rain until we'd finished putting up the tent this afternoon. The sky was quite blue this morning, with only a little high cloud. The cloud built up as the day went on, with big, dark ones for the last hour or so of the ride, but no rain. Amazingly hardly any wind either. It got a bit strong in places, but nothing like what we've had, or what was forecast. The last 3 miles the road actually turned south, and I think the wind was behind us, but it was so still it made no difference. It was really hot then actually too, so a good job the cloud was there.
The terrain today was pretty tame too. Undulating, but nothing steep. Great views of the volcanoes too – Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro . Mount Ngauruhoe especially looks like the active volcano it is, because it has snow running down it's sides like lava. Lots of shrubland – flax especially, with dense trees growing on the hills.
We cycled north west our of Ohakune, managing to get the tent away and the bikes loaded up by 10.00. Then at Tohunga Junction we went north to National Park, then east on 47 and south on 48. 31 miles altogether.
You may be thinking that we had an easy day therefore :o) but I have to be honest I really struggled. Nick said it was because we've had too many days off (of course, he would). Whatever it was, I was really, really slow at the end.
I found it quite hard to stay optimistic today too, which probably didn't help. Nick is always so far in front, I feel like a burden to him. He sets such a grueling pace – well, not for him of course, but I find it pretty tough. It's like always feeling like you're last place in a race :o(
Anyway, hopefully I'll do better tomorrow, although not sure yet what the plan is for tomorrow. We were going to stay here for 2 nights, doing the Tongariro Crossing tomorrow. The problem is that there's no real shop here, so nowhere to buy food. There's a small store on the camp site that sells bread, milk and so on, but not enough to survive off. Fortunately we stopped at a store at National Park, which wasn't much bigger, but we were able to get some fresh tortellini and tomatoes (no wine though :o( We'll have to explore tomorrow and see if there is somewhere we can eat out, I guess. It's either that or head on to Turangi, but that doesn't place us that well for the Crossing.
The camp site here is quite small, but I've never seen so many people in a communal kitchen – 24 to be precise. There's 16 sets of hobs, 8 sinks for washing up, but not nearly enough seating. The actual spot we've pitched our tent is crap. It's a raised platform tucked up under some trees, and isn't long enough for the tent, so we've got half a woodland growing in the back door! Shower block is a bit tired, but the showers themselves were fine. Unbelievably it cost 34 dollars for the night. That's only about 14 pounds, but the point is we are paying as much for a gubby bit of waste land than we were for a powered site. Doesn't make any sense. They just charge a per person rate, regardless of what you're camping in. Also of course, it's the only camp site here, so they can effectively charge what they like.
We haven't had a look around the village yet, but it is easy to see it is tiny. Probably less than a dozen buildings. Mind you, one of those is a chateau – Chateau Tongariro, which is pretty huge by Kiwi standards, especially when you consider it's built on the side of an active volcano! It's not quite Chateau Lake Louise or but it looks pretty grand. Hopefully we'll get to check that out too.
Just waiting for the kitchen to quieten down a bit now so my chef can start his work!
I'm starting to get a bit nervous about Nick's birthday now. It's only a few days away and I've no idea how to make it special (it's the big 40 if you didn't know). It's hard to plan anything when you don't know where you're going to be. At any rate I'll try and make sure he logs on that day, (6th) so make sure you send him some birthday wishes!!
'sall for now.