Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Blog Post 6: 4/6/16

On Friday the 25th I drove up to Tongariro National Park with a group of 14 others. We had planned on arriving at Mangatepopo Road at 2:00, but ended up showing up when it was getting dark. We followed through on our plan to hike a few km through the beginning of the Crossing to go free camp near the Devil’s Staircase, but it was difficult to find a safe camping spot in the dark and the torrential rain. After failing to find a safe spot to sleep, we headed to a hostel.

The forecast for the next day didn’t look that great either. We had planned on doing the Crossing, but instead chose to do a shorter and easier hike so we would be safe if it started to rain. In the morning, we did the Tongariro Northern Circuit. We hiked about 4km out to the Tama Lakes and headed back after a quick lunch. We then drove a few minutes down the road to a different car park and completed a 1 ½ hour hike to the Whakapaiti Hut. At this point the weather had cleared up and things were looking good for us. It was a tricky hike (including a swollen river crossing and a fairly tall mountain climb), but there were some great moments that made it all worth it, such as when we saw a double rainbow!

We left the Whakapaiti Hut around 6am the next morning and drove to the Tongariro Crossing! We finished the 19.4km hike in the afternoon, and although our feet were covered in blisters, it was so worth it. We spent the night at a free camping site and headed home early the next day. We hiked a total of 45km over the weekend!

On the way back to Auckland, one of the drivers dropped my friend Freya and I off in Taupo. The two of us had planned out an extended Easter Break trip. The first day we explored the town and walked by the lake. The next day we went bungy jumping, did the extreme cliff swing, and did a 15,000ft skydive. On our final day in Taupo, we headed up to Adventure Kayaks to hire 2 kayaks. Our plan was to kayak a few miles out to the Māori Carvings, have some lunch and wine at the closest beach we could find, and then kayak back. However, our plans got pretty messed up. Even though it was a beautiful, sunny day, the lake was not at all safe, and half way out to the carvings we were hit with choppy waves. We eventually made it to the carvings and the beach, but decided to call the company to get picked up. However, the man who answered told us that they weren’t going to get us because we should have turned around when the water got rough. We were nervous, but decided to head back. It took only 15 minutes on the water for us to realise that it was no longer safe to make it back in the kayaks. We navigated our way into a private boat-loading bay and dragged our kayaks up on the grass. We made our way through the neighbourhood and knocked on a few doors until someone finally answered. This adorable older woman brought us inside and called the company for us (she was really concerned that the company would refuse to pick us up because the lake is really dangerous when it gets choppy. Apparently a man had recently died out there because of the waves and cold water temperature…). She was so nice and drove us back to the kayak company. The girl from the company then drove us back to town so that we could make our bus. The day was kind of a failure (I mean, we paid $50 each to kayak in super dangerous water…), but the Māori carvings were amazing and we got to see the inside of a New Zealand mansion!

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