Life in the Clouds
12.02.2008 19 °C
Well, a brighter day was on the cards and several bus loads of crossing walkers had already made their way to the start of the track by the time we rose.
Grasping the opportunity to get up the cable car to Raupehu's summit, we quickly packed and were about to leave when I overheard a girl who's bus had messed her about and decided the the trip to Turangi was not on their agenda for the day. They took her money mind (apparently it's quite a known thing that this company do this!), so she was stuck and due to start a 3 day walk in the National Park with no transport. Fortunately for her, the walk started in Whakapapa Village at the base of Raupehu, exactly where we were heading! We happily gave her a lift as it was her only way of starting this walk (her name was Sarah(!) and, as seems to be the case with our stragglers, she was German!).
Sadly, as was the case yesterday, the cloud cover was low so no sight of the summits and thus, no cable car operating. I was gutted as this was going to be one of the highlights of my trip. We despondently descended back down Raupehu and were thinking of heading straight to River Valley when we made the decision not to write off the whole day and go on the 2 hour loop track to Taranaki Falls. We set off with waterproofs armed (the rain was imminent!) through what initially was very bare and open heathland, hoping that this bloody waterfall was worth the walk! An hour into the track and we suddenly found ourselves atop a 20m ridge with a very impressive waterfall flowing over the edge. Scrambling to the bottom it looked even more impressive despite the now persistent rain!
We got back to the car and were about to leave when disaster......the car wouldn't start!! Fully loaded and pointing downhill into a hedge I had no hope in pushing the damn thing! Luckily I managed to rope in a few passers by and with the help Sarah managed to bump start the thing....turns out we left the lights on, oops!!
The drive to River Valley was less eventful! More rain but yet another impressive change in landscape, this time with steep sided rolling hills replacing the dominant threat of looming volcanoes hidden in the clouds. The lodge itself is in an incredible setting. A sheer gorge cut over millions of years by the Rangitikei River. Our lodge room, separated from the main complex, is right on the banks of the river and is even better than we could have imagined! A huge king size bed, underfloor heating and a massive en-suite wet room, such a welcome treat after 10 days in backpackers accommodation!
The food tonight was amazing too! Roast beef and all the trimmings plus happy hour at the bar.......heaven!!