Toughs Travels travel blog

The caves at Waitomo- before they were protected - tourists broke off...

A pixie in a cave - oh, no it's Carolyn!

The object in the distance are supposed to look like figures!

Not ragged in Raglan - the main street is pretty as a...

The south end of Raglan's surf beach - quiet today though.

Raglan's pretty hotel - though Harbour View - not really!

Our apartment in Raglan - the ground floor of Avis's house -...

Back to the West Coast.

Saturday 17th October 2009

Boy did it rain overnight! But this morning the sky looks a little better and so we head off for Lake Taupo – the largest in New Zealand.

On the way we visit the Huka Falls – impressive! And then stop by at the Taupo Bungy jump place – here you do it over a river and if you are so inclined they can even let you splash into it on you bungy jump – Though today, it was too cold for that so, we saw one couple go over (she shrieked a lot) and one guy (who was completely silent!). The jump looked big – but was only 47 meters – the one Neil did was 220 meters – yes, 4.5 times more – Crikey!

Then we drive further south down route 1, past the Mountains of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, at 2797m – the highest hereabout.

Though sadly, the tops of the hills are obscured by cloud, but some still have some snow cover – but we don’t bother to try and Ski!

For the evening we move on to Taumarunui – one of those small towns that have a main street and not much else – though, even at 4.00pm on a Saturday afternoon it was very quiet!

Though, to be fair to the place the supermarket was ok, and the prices reasonable!

And the place we stayed at, the Twin Rivers Motel, was, well a bit Fawlty Towers in a way. It took ages for the old biddy to arrive at reception – as she informed us, that she had been plastering (yes - literally - not getting plastered!) OK – fair enough!

But then, she wrote everything out by hand – even though she typed our name into the computer on the desk! And then the code she gave us for the internet access was invalid!

However, the room was nice and everything worked and we were cosy in the overnight torrential rain!

Sunday 18th October 2009

Still raining this morning, but dodge the showers to load the car and after another visit to the local supermarket – we are off North.

As it’s still showery we decide that rather than doing outdoor stuff today – we need to be inside! So, it’s off to the Waitomo caves, for their Two Cave Combo!

Sounds more like a McDonald’s Meal than a twin cave tour!

So, the Glow-worm Cave is first – a 45 minute tour with a small section on a boat to really see the worms in almost complete darkness – Really good and interesting, but as the river level is high (with all the rain) we have to return by the same route – so OK, but not Wow. This cave also has a “cathedral” section in which such famous people as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the Vienna Boys choir have sung – and our guide tries to get us to sing – but there are two problems (1) the group ahead of us had a fantastic female singer – which we could clearly hear, and indeed stopped speaking to hear better and (2) none of our group was willing to take on the challenge - So, the compromise was – a quick round of “Happy Birthday Everybody!” – Strange!

The second cave is the Aranui, which has more interesting Stalactites and formations – but no Glow-worms. So, if you only have time to do one (each takes 45 mins) do the Glow-worm one!

We emerge from the caves to splendid sunshine – but that does not last long - and as we finish our picnic lunch in the car park the rain starts – but we do manage a brief chat with three Cavers (it transpires that they are doing a recce for an Outdoor education trip next week!) And they have been to another part of the cave system that requires a bit of Abseiling to complete the round trip - now that’s what we should have done!

Then we head for the coast – because it looks really black inland – more rain – and we head for the surfing town of Raglan. Now, folks – I expect a “surfing” town to be right on the beach – but Raglan’s not – it’s a fair drive to the surfing beach – and whilst the town (no, more of a village) is nice, it is not worth the drive – unless you are a surfer, of course.

However, we do stay, and thanks to Lonely Planet – we get a homely apartment at Brayside, looked after by Avis Bray, yes, she “Does Try Harder” – and even though the TV is broken we have a nice stay, with the prospect of an “Avis” cooked breakfast.

On to see Rob and Jo Allan next.

Copyright Neil Tough@2009

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