From High up to Down Low

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14/01/08
Happy Monday to you all! As you’ve probably noticed, I was unable to post anything last night. This wasn’t because my hostel didn’t have the facilities, but rather because according to the manager there, the Internet was down all across New Zealand. That’s too bad, because I was hoping to get you caught up on my exploits. However, as I now find myself in essentially the middle of nowhere (Raukawa Falls), I still won’t be able to post anything. I have high hopes for tomorrow however, as I’ll be in a town of over 40,000, so surely they’ll have fixed the Internet there, right? Hee hee. Well in spite of that, my trip continues, and I have a new post to write for you all. Today Ralph and I bid farewell to Tongariro National Park, and made our way (mostly downhill) to the Raukawa Falls Adventure Centre, which is a YMCA camp, but also has cabins for independent travelers. We got a cabin for 15NZD each. Not bad. The location isn’t too shabby either, with some really cool falls nearby, as well as a flowing river behind our cabin. So, read on for my little story, and don’t forget to check out the day’s map. With the return of reliable power, I can give you an accurate map now 馃檪

In spite of all the hard hiking in the last few days, the biking today wasn’t all that bad. Of course, it helps that the route was predominantly downhill from National park, as will tomorrow be, since we’re heading from the mountains back down to the Tasman Sea. From 1137m to 37m in 2 days. Boy, does the air down here ever feel heavy 馃槈 Our journey today was pretty much all on the No.4 highway, which is a nicely sealed road, with not as much traffic as the main highway. We quite enjoyed the scenery as there were nice rolling hills all around us, and as you got further, you could still see Mount Ruapehu in the distance behind us, which was nice. We did the first 35km pretty quick, then stopped for some late breakfast in a little town.

That little town also was the location of the closest grocery store of any description to our stopping spot. We had the foresight to buy food for tonight, as we knew there would be none here. Other cyclists have apparently not been as smart, and have had to starve for the night in Raukawa Falls. Anyway, back in the town, I had a nice bacon and egg pie, and a fresh slice of chocolate cake to keep me going. Yummy. I’m really enjoying this whole ‘eat whatever you want’ diet that I’m on. Of course, tonight it’ll be a simple meal of instant noodles, a few cookies, and a snack later of crackers. Tomorrow I’ll have a nice big meal in Wanganui.

Back on the road, there was a sign warning of storm damage over the next 50km. That seemed a bit ominous, but for the most part, there were no issues with the road. There were only a few spots where there were washouts which had left the road reduced to one lane. I get the distinct impression they don’t hurry to fix these problems, as there seems to be only one main highway of concern in the North Island, the No.1. and all other roads just don’t have enough traffic to warrant a whole lot of maintenance. Either way, it was fine by us, and in no time, we were in Raukawa Falls. By no time, I mean a mere 3 hours. An extremely short day considering we covered 65km! I also managed my fastest average speed on a day at 22km/hr. That was just fine by me, as I think my legs can use a little recovery time anyway.

Once on sight, we decided to head straight for the river, and ultimately the falls a mere kilometer along a trail. We had some fun swimming around the falls. I was quite surprised at just how powerful the pull from a waterfall is, and how much current they cause. Ralph had some trouble trying to get to a platform in the middle of the falls, and opted to do some cliff diving on the side instead. I pushed on, and managed to make the platform, and had fun diving from there. It was a pretty fun experience, another free fun day for us. After being sufficiently cooled off, we headed back for some showers and snacking. Now we’re just lazing around in our little bunk-room as it’s too hot outside. Later, we plan to check out the ropes course here, and see if there’s some sports equipment we can borrow. You see, this is a YMCA camp, and there are plenty of kids around here too. It’s a neat spot to spend a night, and not a fortune. In fact, it’s impossible to spend money here, as there is nothing to buy. We already got the most expensive accommodations! That’s good though, as we are both low on cash, since there have been no bank machines since Turangi, which was almost a week ago. We’re each on our last 100NZD. Luckily, tomorrow, we’ll be able to enrich ourselves again.

Well, that’s about it for my tale today. I’m going to get back to enjoying the day. Hope all is well with all of you. One and a half months down, two and a half to go. My how time flies. Maybe I’ll never come back. Jody, interested in moving to NZ? Hee hee. Later y’alls.

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