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Driving around town with Moritz, Drake and Tibo, we passed by a city park that I noticed had a skatepark. I made a mental note of where it was in relation to the library so I could check it out later. On Friday, I was dropped at the library to do some consulting for a website for the marae. I talked with Dustin back home about possibly getting hosting through my place of work (Innovative Solutions Group). I worked awhile on the site before stretching my legs and walking to the park to check it out. The quarters were dece. Razor-tail is a sure thing as the ground was weather-worn. Not sure about the angle iron on the edge of the park. I had really debated whether I wanted to lug my board down to NZ and deal with security and my large backpack and everything else, and ultimately decided against it. Standing at the park though, I was wishing that I had it. Aw well.

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New Zealand is pretty dang hot in the summer. Hitting the water is worldwide pastime and Paora suggested that we cool off in the river. We all hopped in the Ford wagon and sped down the road. By this time, Moritz and Drake had the hang of the tricky starter of the dang thing, but it would continue to cause problems in the future.

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There’s a nice swimming hole that gets deep, but what ya do is walk up river a ways and float down to it, bumping your butt on the river bed while the current takes you. Ya gotta put Mr. Glute to work so you don’t hurt your tailbone.

The German and Texan loved it and floated the bumpy river several times. The water was pretty cool from the glacial water somewhere nearby.

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Tibo, our French friend on the far right, enjoyed the river more than anyone; enough to take a big gulp of it in fact. Well, it might not have been intentional, as he was trying to record his bumpy ride with his GoPro. Later that evening he felt the effects of the water as is ran through him every 20 minutes or so. Sorry Tibo. Better stick to the Ricard next time.

When we had our fill of the river, we headed back to the marae for dinner. We spent the rest of the evening watching a Game of Thrones marathon; our usual evening activity.

The next day (2/24), Tibo and I got a ride into Taumaruni to work at the library. Tibo is a landscape draftsman by trade and was working on a project for the marae. Paora set me to the task of building a website for one of the marae’s organizations. He ultimately decided to use Wix, so I spent some time setting that up and learning to use it.

After working awhile, we had heard that there was a sheep-shearing contest at a community building down the road. I read a fun fact on the underside of a bottle cap from a bottle of Tui beer that there are 7 sheep for every 1 person in New Zealand. Apparently sheep-shearing is a big thing down there, and we didn’t want to miss out. It was a spectacle to behold. These guys are running these souped-up clippers through the wool of 10 sheep in a row. By the end of the heat, they’re all dripping with sweat, and the person with the best time will advance on to the next heat.

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When we got our fill, Tibo and I walked back to the Library to get picked up by the other guys. We discussed the contest as we walked and concluded that sheep-shearing contests were a new one for the the both of us.

We had been planning to go on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Saturday. We kept an eye on the weather and all looked ok. But that wretched Ford wagon was our downfall.

 


To get to the trailhead to Tongariro is about an hour drive away from Taumarunui. You leave your car and get on a shuttle that takes hikers to the starting point and picks everyone up at the end to get back to their cars.

The day before we were to leave, the wagon was being a bother even on short trips into town. It just wasn’t reliable for us to make it over to the shuttle. We had a plan b however. Though we didn’t trust the rig to get us the distance to Tongariro, we were able to get it running and made a short 20 min drive just outside of town to another trailhead through the tropical forest. We parked in a neighborhood on the edge of town and walked into the bush.

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Shortly into the walk, we came to a lagoon. I wasn’t actually sure what a lagoon is. Wikipedia states it “is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by barrier islands or reefs.” There were oily slicks on the surface of the water and I saw a dead rat floating near a bush. But it was a pretty area none the less.

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We all stopped and took photos.

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We trekked on. The light filtering through the canopy was interesting and lovely.

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The trees keep hikers nice a cool from the sun during the walk, but ya still get sweaty and eager for a swim. We came out of the wood to our destination. A beautiful cold river, deep enough to jump into.

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Moritz and Drank wasted no time in swimming over to the spot to jump off. There’s actually a point even higher up that a few locals climbed to and took the plunge. It was gnarly.

We drank beers in the sun, chatted idly while we cooled off, and then continued down the trail.

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The path was a 4-5 mile loop that covers some gorgeous terrain.

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The guys looking out from a bridge.

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After another hour or so, we emerged from the forest and felt the sun on our backs. We were hot and tired and ready to get some dinner. We headed back to the marae for dinner and a shower. We swung by the local grocer to pick up some more beer and ended the day with some Game of Thrones.

Exhausted from the day, we all relaxed, drank tea and watched. The hike turned out to be one of my favorite days of my trip (during the times I was working). One aspect that stands out is adventuring with new friends.

Thanks guys.