Since my last blog post, there has been so much that has happened I'm not sure what to write about. As I said at the end of the last post we moved on from Adams Permaculture farm with Stray Bus, with plans to go straight to Wellington, but we didn't make it very far. The first stop Stray made was at Kohutapu lodge near Murupara. Kohutapu is a Maori cultural stop where the visitors can learn how to weave flax in the traditional way, go eeling, make traditional fry bread, go fishing, hunting, and even boating on the beautiful Lake Aniwhenua. We quickly decided to stay and WWOOF (Although the owners call it a WOLF Pack) and are so glad we did. We ended up spending nearly two weeks working at Kohutapu and getting to know the family Nadine, Karl and their full of life daughter Tylah-Fern, Maurice, Glennis, Tia, Hine, Cousin Willy and everyone else. We also met another American couple, Jason and Sondra who got off the stray bus about a month before we did and had been WWOOFING at Kohutapu Lodge. We actually ended up traveling to Blue Duck and then Wellington together. Definitely good times.
The hills (below) will not look like this for nearly half a century. As we were leaving they were all being chopped down by the logging industry. You would never know but it is the largest hand planted forest in the southern hemisphere. The local tribes who own the land plant the trees, wait 30-40 years and chop them down, followed by more planting. Its really interesting to see while driving through the area how certain parts are totally cut down when next to them are nearly full grown trees just a few years away from the same thing.
Sunset on Lake Aniwhenua (below)
Charlie Brown the goat.
One of the many sheep on their property.
If you are planning on traveling with Stray Bus, or are simply in the area, do yourself a favor and visit Kohutapu. They also have a large amount of animals on location including an ostrich that you can feed or just say hi to. Staying with them was one of the best things I think I've ever done, and I really can't wait to go back. While working there some of the jobs we did included working the bar while other Stray busses made their one night stop, cooking, cleaning, and a heap of painting. We actually painted the main Lodge Interior as well as the railings and fence outside. I even learned how to put down and cook a Hangi which is a traditional Maori meal for large groups. I'm definitely planning on doing a Hangi when we get back to the states for everyone.
No one was around while I was putting down the hangi to take a photo, so here is one of Karl putting it down. The wet burlap bags he's putting down make more steam as the white hot rocks underneath heat them (after its all covered in dirt) and slow cook the food to perfection. Its better than any Thanksgiving meal i've had and I"ve had a lot of great ones.
After our amazing two weeks at Kohutapu we decided to hop back on the Stray Bus and continue on to Wellington. The next stop was Blue Duck Station for two nights. Blue Duck is named the way it is because its the only place to see the rare Blue Duck. Creative right? While there Tiffany rode a horse through the mountains while I went on the “Ridge Trail”. The actual trail is about as far away from what I would call a ‘Trail’ and closer to a rabbit path with more rock climbing than walking. After I scrambled to the top after three hours I was rewarded with stunning 360˚ views of the Whakahoro region, multiple rivers and streams and could even see Mt. Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and even Mt. Ruapehu.
This is Mt. Ruapehu, a very active stratovolcano.
The Milky Way over Blue Duck Station. I've gotten considerably better at processing my night sky shots and in this one you can see the color of various nebulas as well as the constellation Scorpio. If you are reading this and are in the Northern Hemisphere this will be closer to the horizon. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere just look up and if you are not in a big city you should find it with ease.
After two days at Blue Duck station we headed to Tongariro National Park where there are more activities than I could even begin to list. The highlights that many people on our bus opted to do were Skiing/Snowboarding, the Tongariro Crossing one day trek, as well as other hikes in the area. Tiffany, Myself and Dilson who is here on holiday from Brazil decided to hike Taranaki Falls and visit Gollum's pools as we didn’t want to spend nearly $200 to do the Tongariro Trek which is free in the summer. Motors (our driver) was nice enough to drive us to both trailheads and even wait on us. Thanks Motors!
Mt. Ngauruhoe, more commonly known as Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings.
The view while walking along the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
Another incredible view.
Thanks Dilson for getting a shot of Tiffany and I. I don't have many of these!
This is the now famous Gollums Pool.
That night we slept in the 3 star lodge called The Park. They had spa pools and an all night happy hour which was much needed after the 14+ kilometers we hiked that day. The next morning I woke up at 6:30 am to shoot sunrise over the snowcapped mountains but it was raining. I used that time to write this post and as I finish it we are now in Wellington. We plan to find jobs here for at least a few months and save some more money before heading to the south island. I'm thinking something NOT in sales for once in my life and Tiffany plans on maybe a waitress job or office assistant. Tomorrow I have an interview so wish me luck!