Back on the bus again for the next destination! After the disappointment of a rainy day in Taupo meaning not getting to do any scenic walks, we had a chance to stop this morning at the Tongariro National Park. The drive through the park was stunning with lush green hills and snowy mountains. We walked a two hour loop of Taranaki falls, with some stunning scenery and a real taste of how beautiful the landscape is in this country. It’s crazy in spring to be walking in green fields with snowy mountains behind! The weather was starting to be a bit kinder and at least waited until the last 15 minutes to start falling on us.
After a fairly long windy drive, we arrived to the middle of nowhere, also known as River Valley. It was a true New Zealand countryside image with fields full of sheep for miles, no phone signal and a cute homely house to stay in. When there’s not much else to do in the middle of nowhere, you drink! We had a delicious home cooked roast dinner (with Yorkshire puds!) and several bottles of red wine before the drinking games started and I escaped before it ended badly. We’ve stayed in a lot of dorm rooms in our time, but nothing like this. It’s a 32 bed dorm and is basically just two really long bunk beds so you’re all lying next to each other like a giant sleepover but with strangers! Bizarre but a surprisingly good sleep! In the morning people went off the do rafting which we would have loved, but we need to say no sometimes to keep to budget! While waiting for the other to finish rafting, Steph and I took a few walks round the area. One of these even involves pulling yourself on a trolley along a river and for me involved tumbling down a hill getting pretty covered in mud.
After a very rural night in the beautiful countryside, it’s finally time for a bit of city as we jump on the bus heading to the capital, Wellington. Wellington is another destination we decided to stay two nights so we can get one full day to explore the capital. We arrived late so had a free dodgy dinner at our hostel then headed to a great bar for a bottle of wine and a doughnut (doughnuts seem very popular in Wellington!)
After a bit of excitement with a power cut in the hostel at 11pm, we scrambled to bed in the dark and slept ready for a busy day. With cereal in our bellys for fuel, we headed to the Te Papa museum. Everyone we’ve spoken to has raved about this museum as one of the best in the world. It’s absolutely huge and after three hours it was fair to say we were museumed out! It is a great museum and very interactive, with our favourite section being the exhibition on the war featuring giant, incredibly realistic models of soldiers and lots of interactive displays teaching us all about a part of the war we’d never heard of before. It was about the war in Gallipoli in WW1 between the Anzacs and the Turks which claimed many lives.
Once our brains were filled with new knowledge we headed for a stroll by the harbour and back into the city to Cuba street. We’d heard Cuba street was THE place to be full of cute cafes. I was picturing something along the lines of a Melbourne lane way, which this definitely isn’t. There didn’t seem a huge wealth of places to eat either although I had a great chicken and Brie burger at one of the more affordable cafes. After we’d recuperated and rested our feet we headed back to the city to buy a new camera as mine had finally broken and went for a trip on the cable car up for a view of the city. We then strolled through the botanic gardens (pretty nice but not the best I’ve seen) back to the city for a final bit of sightseeing, a drink by the harbour before heading back to the hostel to warm up. The capital is nicknamed Windy Welly for a reason, and we were feeling very tired and windswept after a long day on our feet!