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Evan Hunter's Round The World Diary


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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rotorua to Gisborne

After rising late today, and packing, I stashed my gear with reception, and walked odwn to Rotorua Visitors Centre. I bought a ticket to Gisborne leaving at 2:30pm.
After this, I walked down to Whakarewarewa, which took about 30 minutes. The walk was along the main road into Rotorua, and there were hundreds of motels, most with thermal pools/spas in each room. It was quite hot walking in the sun.
The entrance to Whakarewarewais across a small bridge, where I paid the $20 entry. There was a guided tour group leaving the entry as I arrived, and I joined them. We walked over to an area riddled with steaming pools and vents. Some of the vents had had a pipe pushed into them to keep them open, releiving pressure, whilst stopping a pool forming. Other vents had had boxes built over them and could be used as steam ovens.
A large pool in the centre of the area was very deep and clear, and was used to cook corn on the cob for sale to the tourists. Water from this pool was also used to feed a bathing area that the villagers had used. Near the bathing area was a smaller pool which was boiling very vigourously with big clouds of steam billowing across a path, making it almost impossible to see where you were going. A large area here had recently subsided from the thermal activity. Also near here, was a lookout over the ??? gyser, which was shooting two jets of water and steam from a rocky outcrop. It was quite impressive.
We wandered over to the Marae, which had an impressively carved meeting house.
After the tour, I went to the performance house, where a concert was about to start. The concert was quite good - there were three men and three women, dressed in traditional costume. They performed various songs and dances, including the haka and poi dances. The words to most songs were in Maori, and some seemed to be amazingly fast. The haka was impressive with three, but would have been amazing if done by a war party of several hundred.
The poi dances were also impressive, and at one stage, each dancer had four in flight all at once.
After the concert, I walked around the grounds for a while, looking at the other mud pools, then started the walk back to town. When I reached the city centre, I bought a fast food lunch, then retrieved my pack from the hostel.
I walked down to the visitors centre, and boarded the bus to Gisborne. The bus took me out to the Bay of Plenty, where we drove along the seashore for a while before turning inland. We entered a mountainous area, covered with native forest, and followed a river upstream for a long time. The road was very windy, and the bus driver was obviously used to driving formula one cars, as he took the corners at amazing speed, causing things in the bus (including people) to be thrown around quite a bit.
After we reached the head of the river, the mountains became covered by grass pastures. From here to Gisborne, the mountains reduced to hills, then plains, all covered by farmland.
Eventually we came into Gisbourne. I walked the 1-2km out to the Flying Nun Backpackers, which is in a delapidated looking ex-monistary. I walked to the supermarket nearby, and bought dinner, and hiking food for 4 days. After dinner, I watched a little TV then went to bed.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Lake Waikaremoana Day 1 - Gisbourne to Onepoto to Panekiri Hut

Rising early, I packed my gear, dividing it into things to take hiking and things to leave behind. I checked out, and walked back to the bus stop, where I boarded my 9:00am bus to Wairoa.
The bus took me through much farmland, and through some hills before coming into Wairoa after about 1.5 hours.
I'd organised with the "Big Bush Holiday Park" for them to pick me up, and so I waited at the visitors centre for about half an hour until a man arrived in a 4WD and picked me and another guy up. Just before this, I read on the wall of the information centre that you needed to book for the walk. I was concerned as I hadn't.
After about 45 minutes to 1 hour drive, we reached the "Big Bush Holiday Park" where I was able to book the walk over the phone and fax, and stash my excess gear, before boarding a shuttle bus van, which took me to Onepoto. I booked for a three day walk, staying at Panekiri Hut, and Maraunui Campground, and also booked the Big Bush Water Taxi as a pickup at the end.

It was around 12:30 when I set out on the track. I walked past a public shelter, and up a gently sloping hill. I came out at a clearing with a short side trip to ??? lake. I dropped my pack and checked it out. It was a very small lake surrounded by grass, with an old grave not far away.
Back on the main track, I started climbing quite steeply up the Panekiri bluff ridgeline. There were occasional spectacular views of the lake, which was covered in whitecaps. The strong winds were roaring through the treetops around the track, but there was almost no air movement at ground level, making the climb very hot work.
Climbing through beech forest, I eventually came out at a lookout, after passing a school group coming down.
The views from the lookout were awesome, and I sat in the shade, and in the lee of some bushes while I ate some lunch.
From this lookout, the trail climbed and descended many peaks on the ridgeline, usually staying quite close to the edge of the Bluff.
The beach forest continued and at a few low points on the ridge, it appeared that the blasting wind had knocked over or killed some of the trees.
There were many more points with great views of the lake, and eventually, I climbed to a high point on the ridge, and found I was at Panekiri Hut.
The hut sits right on the edge of the bluffs, with excellent views of the lake. It had a lot of people already in it. I claimed a bed on the top of a 3 level bunk, then cooked dinner. Everyone went to bed very early - about 8:45.
During the hike up, I'd realised that I'd forgotten to take out a bottle of shampoo that I'd bought in Gisbourne, making for an extra 500g or more of dead weight.
I was surprised that there didn't appear to be a hut warden, and that there were no gas cookers, despite the walk being a great walk.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Lake Waikaremoana Day 2 - Panekiri Hut to Maranui Campground

Everyone in the hut seemed to be either sleeping in, or having a leisurely breakfast. I packed my gear, and left by about 7:45am.
When I had woken, there was a coudy, but pretty sunrise, but as I left the hut, and continued through the forest, the clouds closed in. The cloud enveloped some of the beech forest, as I was continuing along the tops of the bluffs. Soon it started misting rain, and I put on my rainpants to guard against wet plants, but left off my raincoat.
After a while climbing and descending peaks on the bluffs, in beech forest, the track started descending very steeply off the bluffs down toward the lake. Once off the tops of the blufs, the forest changed from beech to rainforest podocarp with a great variety of trees and ferns. The trail descended more gently now, and the rain seemed to ease, but this may have been due to the tree cover.
Soon, I reached Waiopaoa Hut where I sat inside, and ate some lunch. The hut was apparently booked full, although this didn't affect me. The reason it was booked full was because one of the two bunk rooms was being used by builders who were building a brand new hut to replace the existing one.
I continued along the track, which now ran by the shore of the lake - usually 10-20 metres inland. Soon I came to the turnoff to Korokoro falls, where I dumped my pack and walked , following the trail up a creek through rainforest for about 25 minutes. The falls were fairly impressive - only a small amount of water, but an almost perfectly flat, vertical rock face, about 20 metres high, over which the water fell.
Returning to the main track, I continued along the lake shore, and the trail wound in and out of many small bays. On the inside of a bay, the track would descend and cross a stream, on the headlands, the track climbed to avoid the small bluff. When there were views of the lake, the water was aquamarine blue in the shallows, and the shoreline rocky. The forest was either rainforest, or tea tree.
Eventually, I reached the point of Maraunui Bay. It was still misting rain, and it seemed to take ages to reach the end of the bay, and even more time walking up the feeder creek before crossing it. In places, there was open grassland, with much Pampas grass, and the rain was worst here, with no tree cover.
I was getting tired of the rain, and of walking when I saw what looked like a hut. As I came closer, I found it was a DOC staff hut, and was huge, and well equipped. The campsite where I was staying was only about 200 metres from it, right on the lake shore. It had a shelter shed with a table, bench seat, and a water tank.
I set up my tent, and put several layers of clothes on - with only one wall, the shelter was breezy and cold, but I was alone, which was nice, after the hordes last night.
The misting rain continued as I cooked my dinner, ate and went to bed, with the occasional loud quacking of the local ducks.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Lake Waikaremoana Day 3 - Maraunui Campsite to Hopuruahine

It was cloudy, but not raining when I woke. The black swans and ducks were cruising around the calm surface of the lake. I packed my gear, and set off with rainpants on to guard against wet plants.
The track today alternated between following the shore of the lake around bays in tea tree forest, and climbing up over headlands through ferny rainforest.
When I reached the Waiharuru Hut, I was amazed by how big it was. It was brand new, and in two parts - common and cooking areas under one roof, and bunkhouse under another. The Luxmore hut on the Kepler track is probably the only hut I've seen that is bigger.
The entire Puketukutuku peninsula had been electric fenced off to keep the kiwi population in, and their predators out.
There were some views of the lake, with aquamarine waters in the shallows. I ate lunch at Tapuaenui campsite, where the wind was a little chilly. Moving on, I came to Whananui hut, where there were some people staying there with a boat, and after a short break I moved on, and very soon came to the water taxi pickup area, which was a pretty, sandy beach (the first good beach I'd seen).
Since it was only just before 2:00, and I had organised a boat pickup for 4pm, I had quite a while to wait. I sat on the beach, and the sun came out for brief periods, but the sandflys on the beach were very bad, and were constantly trying to bite my legs.
After a short while, a water taxi arrived, but it wasn't mine - it was going to a different place.
After more reading, writing my diary, and watching the swans and ducks, the boat arrived. I climbed in and soon we were speeding away from the beach.
The low dark clouds made the lake look dark and forbidding as we went across it. The surrounds of the lake appeared fairly mountainous and steep all around. The tops of Panekiri bluffs were in the low cloud.
It took quite a while to cros the lake, but eventually, we were back at Onepoto (I was the only passenger on the boat). After retrieving the boat, we went back to the Big Bush Holiday Park, where I got a campsite, and organised a ride for the morning.
The sun came out, which allowed me to dry my tent, by hanging it over a fence.
Not long after cooking my dinner at a picnic table, I heard a loud crack/twang sound, it happened again, and not long after, I noticed a cow from the adjacent field pushing it's way through the fence, where the wire had been broken. Another cow was already in the camp area. I chased them away from the area near my tent, let the owners know, then went to bed.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Lake Waikaremoana to Wellington

After waking, I packed and dried my gear at a leisurely pace, then went up to the bar/cafe building to wait until I would leave for Wairoa.
Two of the Big Bush Holiday Park's owner's family, and I took a van back to Wairoa, taking about an hour.
The Intercity bus arrived at Wairoa visitors centre, not long after I did, and took me south through hilly farmland, and pine plantations. At one point, we went under a railway viaduct (bridge) which is the tallest in the southern hemisphere - it was quite impressive. The road had occasional views out to the sea, Poverty Bay. Soon we came into Napier, where we had a rest stop .I could see that we were only a couple of blocks from the ocean, so walked to the pebbly beach.
Somewhere near Norsewood, there was a sudden, very loud continuous banging sound on the bus - a blown out tyre. After stopping to check it, and call the bus company, we continued slowly to Norsewood. We pulled into a Firestone tyre centre there, which was closed, and the driver organised getting someone to change the tyre.
Soon a man with a Firestone ute turned up and took quite a while pulling the wheels off, and prying chunks of rubber from the bus. We then had to wait a long time before another light truck turned up, with new tyres. By the time they were put on, and we were finally moving again, we were two hours behind schedule.
Continuing toward Wellington, we went through more pasture land, before entering a range of mountains which had many many wind turbines along the top of the range.
It didn't take long to cross the range, and we came to Palmerston North.
From Palmerston North, the Tararua mountains rose to the south and we headed down the wes coast, between the coast and the mountains.
Toward Wellington, the road ran right along the shore, and the sunset over the water and headlands was very beautiful.
I was a little worried that I'd have trouble finding a hostel open, and finding my way around town.
As we came into Wellington, I could see that the city ran around the coast of the harbour between the water and low mountains.
I needn't have worried about hostels, as, after we pulled into Wellington at about 8:00pm, I walked 200m from the train/bus station and checked into the downtown backpackers, which had 24 hour reception.
I went out looking for some food and found that virtually nothing was open, since it was late sunday night. I ended up getting Burger King, just because it was the first place I found, and I was hungry. After this I found a cyber cafe, sent email, and updated my blog, before returning to the hostel, and bed.

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