This stage on the North Island included two bus rides and wonderful day hike Tongariro National Park. The red stretch were done by bus; the green one we cycled. From Gisborne we took the bus to Napier where we spent two days waiting out the weather, then bused to Taupo and started cycling again. On the last day we bused back from New Plymouth to Auckland.
February 3, 2005 Waiting at the Napier bus station for the bus to Taupo We spent two full days and three nights in Napier. We originally planned just one day, but from Napier we were going to Tongariro National Park to hike the Tongariro crossing. As the weather was poor in Tongariro, we decided to stay in Napier to wait for better conditions. Most of the towns near Tongariro are small, so hanging out in Napier in a comfortable hostel and close to stores and cafes seemed a better alternative.
February 5,2005 The Tongariro crossing is the most popular 1-day hike in New Zealand. The Tongariro National Park is a volcanic area and hiking through this landscape is a very different experience from hiking through the BC coastal rainforests.
The weather can change very quickly in this area. Hikers are advised to be prepared for all conditions. The day we did the hike the weather was good, although clouds rolled in when we got to the top, obscuring our view for a while. But as you can imagine, walking across a plain like this in foggy weather, you could easily get lost. DOC (Dept. of Conservation) does a great job maintaining the trails. The poles, placed at approximately 25 meters intervals, clearly mark the route and make it safe to hike here, even with poor visibility.
More hikers making their way up. I estimate that the day we hiked the trail 200 – 300 people hiked the trail with us. Not a solitary experience, but it worked well. Everyone is looking for the same experience, and after the initial crowding when setting out, you eventually find your own pace and enjoy the trail in your own way.
The landscape on the way down is different from the volcanic ground we saw on our way to the summit. This side of the mountains is much more forested.
February 6-9, 2005 After the Tongoriro crossing we returned to our hostel in Ohakune. From there we cycled down highway 4 to Wanganui, then followed highway 3, a.k.a. the Surf Highway, to New Plymouth. This area is known as Taranaki with Mt. Egmont (a.k.a. Mt. Taranaki) forming the focal point. From New Plymouth we took the bus back to Auckland.