Despite the heavy pack resting on my shoulders for the longevity of the walk, I wasn’t bothered as I walked along the quaint wharf in the silent morning. The scenery outside of the glass windows of the bus was nice, with a great deal of it being open countryside, but it came up far short of what I witnessed in the South Island. I miss looking out and seeing mountains upon mountains, each one having their own character and groove, the spectrum of trees hugging its sides never quite appearing as the last. Now I can understand why they say to travel from the North Island to the South Island. Although the North Island has its merits, the nature and geography seen on the South Island can’t be dreamed up. The bus continued along the grassy ridged knolls that represent mere miniature of the mountainous landscape of the South. After those hills and further flat plains for New Zealand’s many grazing sheep and cows, we stumbled across Mount Ruapehu. This snow capped mountain would blend in with the rest of the mountains in the South but here in the North it feels a bit out of place, which is what makes it special. Curving around the second tallest mountain on the North Island, I found Mount Doom standing about just as peculiarly. Mount Doom is actually called Mount Ngauruhoe but not to all Lord of the Rings nerds; it is the volcano that Frodo throws the ring into to save all of Middle Earth. I didn’t have enough time to hike it today but seeing it even this far away gives me chills. Tomorrow, I will hike the Tongariro Crossing, the most popular day hike in Tongariro National Park and in fact all of New Zealand. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to complete the entire Northern Circuit since it is a three day hike but from what I have heard I will see a great deal of the mountains, volcanoes, craters, sulphur lagoons, and hot pools that make up the park. In the mean time, I checked into a hostel to sleep in my tent once again. Gotta love it! I made some food for a late lunch and I bet you have never tried this combination before. I mixed canned beans, canned sweet Thai chili tuna, avocados (surprisingly one of the best deals in NZ; same price and larger avocados), and some Italian mixed herbs. It is my backpacker take on a guacamole hummus. Don’t give me that look! It was intriguing and oddly delicious. Maybe my taste buds have changed to protect myself for my own good. As I have explained in previous posts, sleeping in the tent is bitter cold. I had planned on getting secondhand clothing but either didn’t have the time or couldn’t find a nearby store. Lucky for me the secondhand shop came to me. In the hostel lounge I found a free clothes bin. Seeing that sign was music to my ears. I dug through the pile and found an interesting selection but sure enough there was a hoodie and two pairs of pants, one of which is a shameful purple but what happens in the tent stays in the tent. After getting some advice from reception, I began a hike away from the mountains through the fern filled forest towards Tupapakurua Falls (have fun pronouncing that one). At the trail head, a sign requested volunteers to carry buckets of rocks down the trail to be used on the unmarked path further along. Being ever generous and helpful, I lugged those buckets close to 3/4 of a mile doing some bicep curls in the process. I know, I know, I’m a pretty big deal. The trail is much like that of the trail through the rainforest in Punakaiki on the west coast of the Southern Island, just a longer distance. I ran across no one else on the path so it was quite the peaceful hike in spite of my overflowing perspiration. At one point, the trail opened up off to the side for a view towards Mount Taranaki, the tallest mountain on the North Island. I couldn’t quite pinpoint but I was surprised by the numerous amount of burgeoning hills that covered the panorama. Eventually, I found myself at the waterfall. The waterfall wasn’t overly impressive but what sold me was the fact that it fell over the crown of a metallic reddened horseshoe rock face and into the overgrown fern basin below. Plus, having this sight all to myself didn’t hurt either. I charged back towards camping, jogging and picking up speed. As much as running can suck, doing so in a natural paradise like New Zealand is a high no drug can muster. I met my first Belgians of the trip in the kitchen and they were surprised I knew where Belgium was on a map. I love geography but if they are surprised that is sad that not enough people know that; not just confused of its whereabouts in Europe but the entire globe. I ate some more of my gourmet guacamole hummus and of course they asked what was in it. After describing such a mouthwatering dip, I offered a taste. For two girls eating Ramen noodles, they refused my offering. You people are missing out on some grade A stuff right here. Before catching up on some blogging, I decided to take a short walk to where the land opened up so that I could see Mount Doom and Mount Ruapehu at sunset. To my surprise, a full moon arrived before the sun could call it a day. What an attention wh***; regardless I was sure glad to see it glowing bright. The sun fell from behind me and lit up the mountains and their backgrounds with differing shades of red, orange, and blue. For a day that didn’t even include the Crossing, it was a fun filled afternoon and evening.
Middle Earth Day 25: The Real Bucket Challenge