NZ Land Logs 8, Year 2: North Island–Ohakune
Date: Monday, February 26, 2007
Weather in Ohakune:
Location: Ohakune, New Zealand

It was another fantastic day of geothermals, lakes, mountains, and sheep. We started our morning in Rotorua with a stop at an internet cafe and then a walk in Kuirau Park just on the edge of town. This is a beautiful park with hot springs and bubbling mud everywhere. Helaine and I stopped for a quick foot bath in one of the pools and then we were headed south. Our next stop was Orakei Korako. This is a geothermal area just a little off the beaten path, but we had read in Lonely Planet that it is the best thermal area left in NZ. We didn’t get to see any geysers, but it was a starkly beautiful area. We took a ferry across a lake and then walked the 2 kilometer path through a surreal landscape. We saw cauldrons of boiling water and even got to walk down into a cave. After our explore, we then drove to Lake Taupo. This area reminded Alan and Helaine of Lake Tahoe in California. At this point it was getting late in the day, but I really wanted to make a little detour to see the Tongariro National Park. This was the site of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings and once we got there, we could see why this area was chosen as that site. The three volcanic mountains loom above the stark landscape, but you can’t see much of them because the clouds hang low over them. We drove up to see the Grand Chateau which is indeed a grand hotel that sits all alone in the stark landscape at the base of Mt. Ruapehu. The Lord of the Rings team stayed here while filming the Mordor pieces of the film. We wished that we had more time to walk and explore, but at this point, we needed to high tail it to our little cabin for the night. Check-in times in this part of the world end at 8 PM, so we drove quickly down from the national park into Ohakune.

Now when I said “little” cabin, I don’t think I really knew exactly how little it would be. We have a tiny little “great room” with a sink, refrigerator, electric frying pan, and kitchen table. Then we have a tiny little bathroom with the smallest sink any of us have ever seen. And finally we have a tiny little bedroom with four bunks–two on one side of the room, one above the other, and two on the other side. It is going to be tight quarters tonight, so hopefully we will all still be friends in the morning and continue our trek to Wellington.

070226 Web Pics–Rotorua to Ohakune