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So next day headed off at 10ish in the second car that Mary has. It’s a 10 year old Volvo… or is it 20? It’s been around a bit anyway – did like to steer into the left if left to it’s own devices.

Though in my opinion you could market this as a ‘Built in protection against falling asleep at the wheel, the car will automatically steer you to the edge…’ Hehehe, so yeah, that was fun, I think Maeve misses her new Punto from time to time.. still, it’s free so that’s all to the good, and over the next 10 days the car was to do over 1400 kilometres without any worries at all.

So yes, off to Taranaki. It’s a volcano, dormant at the moment. Has claimed more lives than any other mountain in NZ. Even than Mount Cook. The reason – well one of the reasons anyway is that the weather can change unbelievably quickly. It’s a total micro-climate – very close to the coast, but a very high, lone, mountain. Winds can get to be over 200 km/h up there. That’s enough to make you take off! quite literally.

This was a pretty accurate account really of the weather in the area. It hardly stopped raining at all while we were there. It was especially heavy the first day.

In fact, there’s a little poem that some anonymous traveller posted. Here it is.





Rain

It rained and it rained and

rained

The average fall was well maintained

And when the tracks were simply bogs

It started raining cats and dogs

After a drought of half an hour

We had a most refreshing shower

And then the most curious thing of all

A gentle rain began to fall

Next day was also fairly dry

Save for the deluge from the sky

Which wetted the party to the skin

And after that the rain set in.

Anonymous Tramper

1984


So yeah, that pretty well summed up Taranaki. However, well used to rain as we are, this wasn’t going to stop us looking around and getting a feel for the place. We stayed in a DOC (Department of Conservation) ‘hut’. More of a pretty comfortable hostel really, but quite cheap. It had lots of posters up about the place, telling you about the weird flora and fauna that you get, and why. It also tells you that it’s better to walk around in the rain as the colours are more vivid. Though sometimes you have to wonder if they’re not just saying that because it does rain all the time.

In fact, this year they’d already had 11 meters of rain. That’s *a lot* of rain.

The area we went walking through, is called a Goblin Forest because of all the mosses and the stunted growth of the trees. (One of the few remaining reserves of the Kiwi birds) It’s like that because the rain washes all the nutrients out of the soil, and is what mosses thrive in.

So you can see the amount of moss and general weirdness that’s around.

Just went for a 40 min hike down to the Dawson Falls (named after bloke wot found them)

Then it was back to the hut, and seeing as we’d not brought stuff for dinner we just *had* to go for a really delicious three course dinner up at the mountain lodge which was also there. Very nice, all wooden and olde looke!

Also met Basil. The local man – 70+ I’d say, who was full of stories, like 300km/h winds (seemed a little fast to me), and how a friend of his goes up to the summit every year. With a triple bypass. At the age of 82 or something equally savage.

Next day did another walk up and around the mountainside (couldn’t even see the summit – though it still has a lot of ice on it so you’d need crampons to get up it)

Saw this

Well there were lots of them, but it’s a fuchsia tree, it sheds it’s bark regularly so that the mosses and lichen cannot get established on it. Clever eh ;)

Also had to cross this wee bridge.

Which Maeve loved! she’d been on ricketier ones in Thailand. I – well – I was happy enough to get to the other side.. big old drop into a valley bellow.

Then back to Palmerston North.

Christmas day itself – well spent doing the usual family stuff. Mum and Dad were given their EMPAAKOs or special Tooro names which are essential before you can belong in society over there. Dads new name is AKIIKI, which can be translated as leader or pioneer and mum’s is ADYERI, which may mean strong !?

Matt and Chris (my two brothers) have decided to give me Kite Surfing lessons here in ChCh for my Christmas (and birthday!) present.. which is going to be great fun, and probably quite scary too. Personally I reckon they’re trying to kill me off seeing as they failed when I was young…

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