In Roturua we found that when thermal features are on private land they cost too much money. So we stopped to smell the sulfur then pressed on towards Lake Taupo, fulling intending on finally putting the tent to use. However the Nissan Sunny had other plans. Once a safe distance from any real town the gas gauge decided to make the jump from quarter full to empty in the span of a few seconds. Hmmm, I thought, this can’t be good seeing as we are in the middle of nowhere. One sign promised a town only 5km away, but that bustling metropolis consisted of three broken down school buses. I wonder if they still have any fuel?
We put the car into neutral and coasted down a very fortunate hill into the town of Murupara only to find their one gas station closed for the night. This Maori town was far off the beaten tourist path but did feature one slightly crappy looking motel. Running out of options, this seemed to do. You could almost hear the cliche record player scratch as we walked though the door to witness the town’s entire adult population sitting at the bar getting sauced. Making the best of the situation, we sampled the local brew (Waikato Bitter, for those keeping track) and made some new friends. The next morning we put some gas in the temperamental vehicle and continued onward.
After a day of lounging in the shadow of Mount Doom, we decided to try our hand (or feet) at tramping and attempt the 17km Tongariro Crossing, one of New Zealands most famous hikes. This barren volcanic landscape was the obvious choice for Tolkien’s Mordor.
Internet is expensive here and in this case a picture is worth a thousand words. So check them out.