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We had planned to stop for the night at Turangi but as we were driving the weather wasn’t too good, so we continued to the south side of Tongariro National Park. We stopped to see the pillars of Hercules and Tree trunk gorge where I refused to cross a swinging bridge that was high above the gorge, I walked a little way out on the bridge and felt sick when I looked down, so I watched Justin jump up and down on it for a while trying to get it to swing. The National park is full of different walks, cycle tracks and volcanos to climb up, because the wind was so strong we couldn’t get to do the Tongariro Alpine crossing which is one of the worlds best one day climb, so needless to say we were gutted.
We passed Mt Ruapehu Volcano (mount Doom in Lord of the Rings) which has had a lot of activity in the last 100 years. In 1953 it last erupted after one of the craters flooded and it burst spewing hot mud downhill, there was a train crossing a bridge when the lava took swept it away killing 151 people. We stopped at a memorial which told the story of what happened, the sad thing was it happened on 24th December so a lot of passengers never arrived home to see their loved ones at Christmas.
We eventually stopped at a town called Ohakune which is the country’s carrot capital hence the carrot photo, the carrots creep on pizzas and pop up in burgers too and wait for it guys – the world’s largest every carrot was grown here too, we were really sad we missed the annual carrot festival too. Floods of skiers also flock here for multitude of different runs on Turoa. We decided to get out walking the following day as we have been in the car quite a lot, we drove on the outskirts of town and walked to Waitonga Falls which would take us about 2 hours. The walk took us through mostly woodland up a hill, and then as we got to the top of the hill we entered a clearing with a wooden walkway as it was wet land. We started to walk over the walkway for about 10 minutes and the wind hit us really hard, now Justin was ok but he thought it hilarious that I was nearly getting blown off the walkway it was so funny and very difficult to stay standing. We made it to the other side where we were back in the woods and walked downhill to the viewpoint of the waterfall which was really high. It was starting to get cold and rain a little so we headed back uphill to my favourite part...the walkway! The wind and rain was battering us this time as Justin stared to video me walking like an idiot, we both got soaked but laughed it off.
We drove south on the Whangerui River Road as it is a very popular scenic route, the road bends around the mountain side with great views, but because of all the storms that hit a couple of weeks ago there had been loads of landslides and the damage to the road and trees was everywhere. We stopped at a Pa site (mauri settlement site) as Justin had wanted to see one. We climbed up to the top of a hill and when we got to the top there was nothing there just grass, Oh he wasn’t a happy bunny, I said the sign was merely pointing out where the site wa,s but not all of them have remains. He searched at the top for some bricks or anything but gave in after 10 minutes, I won’t repeat what he said but he wasn’t too happy, no more Pa site visits I think! We settled for the evening in Wanganui and pitched up in a hostel garden listening to the rain rain rain....