Just another road trip: Tauranga, Gisborne, Taupo, Tongario Crossing

In our motel we woke up quite early, but according to the plan we left motel at 11 o’clock. On the one hand the checkout time is usually at 10 am, but on the other one people here are very nice and all the time they allowed us to leave later. The first part of the trip was Hot Water Beach. Unfortunately the weather was not good. Although we arrived quite early, we could not expect the best experience. We parked our car and walked past the ocean. There was a small stream and it was very hard to cross it. We were wondering about the best way how to jump over. Martin was successful, I am not still confident enough with jumping over rivers and streams. I fell down again. I found a quite cool piece of rock and I stood on it, but it was pretty crazy. I observed the wild Pacific Ocean coming closer to me. I had a lot of water in my boots. My socks were absolutely useless for wearing in future.


I put boots off. I kept socks on my feet because my plan was to throw away them when we return back to car park. We were walking on the beach. The first part was all right, but there was almost impossible to get to the main part of the beach, so we tried to find an alternative way. The path was more difficult, but we could make it at all and we decided to return back to our car park. There were toilets so I cleaned my feet and boots and returned back to car. We decided to go to Tauranga. I had Tomo’s cell phone number and I texted her because I wanted to see her again.


We reached Tauranga quite soon and at the first moment we parked close to Farmers. We were walking a little bit, found some interesting places, Martin was going to ask in another fitness centre, but he decided not to go there. Tomo texted me she was going to finish at her work at 6 pm. We found an internet café and connected for 30 minutes. When we were coming back to our car, we decided to move our car to another car park and go back to connect on the Internet. Unfortunately, the weather changed rapidly and started raining heavily. When we parked again, I was quite hungry. Before we connect on the Internet, we wanted to find a restaurant, but a lot of places were closed. We found a Turkish restaurant like a good place to try kebab. We ordered some meals and enjoyed our lunch. After we went to that Internet café and were there maybe 1 and half hour till 6pm.

When the time came, we left that building and were going to wait for Tomo. I was not sure whether she read my message or not, because she had not replied me back, but I decided to wait. We went drinking some coffee and when we were there Tomo called me. She finished a little bit later and proposed we could meet together in Tauranga. We were in Starbucks café and I suggested that would be ideal place to meet and after that she described me her plan. We had maybe 1 hour before we met, we returned back to our car, we watched a part of a movie and when Tomo called me back we returned back to the Starbucks entrance. There were Avon and Tomo and it was nice to see them again.


We found a great place to eat and really enjoyed our meals and the company. I wanted to invite them for a dinner, but Tomo told me, she would like invite me, because her laptop is still working and she would like to keep her word. Together with Avon they proposed we can stay at his house for the night. After dinner we went there, took some petrol and parked next to Avon’s house. I talked to Tomo and Avon about some recent experience and I really enjoyed their company. When Avon and Tomo went to bed, we took a shower and also fell asleep because it was quite late.


In next morning we had breakfast and talked to Tomo again. She was preparing a lunch for Avon. She proposed she can be our guide in Mount Manganui what is the name of the place where we were, pretty close to Tauranga. We agreed and when Tomo returned, she took her car and during driving she described everything. We stopped close to a small island when we walked. I was interested in, because there were a lot of surfers over there. I observed them and took some photos. The island was really cool, at the end there was a big cliff and you can observe how wild water tried to smash it. When we returned back from that island I saw a Maori surfer with traditional tattoo. I was wondering about taking a photo, but he was quite busy and I did not want to be really impolite. Another plan was to find a place with a great coffee. The ideal one was the Coffee Club. I ordered traditional iced chocolate and Tomo tried the same one. Martin ordered some breakfast.


In the iced chocolate there were some cool decorations and it was really delicious. We called Susie we met in Mount Cook. She was somewhere on the South Island and as usual she never wants to speak English with me, so when I talked to her, Tomo and Martin could hear my Czech. Tomo told me about her birthday and when we finished our iced chocolate, we returned back to Avon’s house. We met there their flat mate and said good bye him and Tomo. Like a gift Tomo brought some feijoas. I never ate this fruit before, but it was really cool.


From Mount Manganui we traveled on the East Cape. We wanted to see the Easternmost Lighthouse in New Zealand and also in the world. The trip was quite long. On our left side there was Bay of Plenty. We had some stops in a few small towns, but we continued through Whakatane, Opotiki, Omaio, Hicks Bay to Te Ararora. I was driving significant part of the trip. The weather was pretty bad and those roads were quite narrow and not frequent. We had a quick break, but not enough time, so we kept driving. Martin a little bit complained about driving speed. I was driving maybe 60-70km/h and according to the weather and quality of the road it looked accurate. Martin wanted to change and continue with driving. That was all right, but when he asked me do you know you can drive here 100km/h, I was a little bit scared. Martin was a really good driver, he had various significant experience, but sometimes I thought I was on a German autobahn and because I prefer more relaxed driving style, sometimes I was really a little bit worried.


We arrived in Te Araora quite late, no much petrol left, but we were happy we were there. We slept on a beach. There was a tsunami warning, but we hoped one night would be all right. We were really excited because it was going to be Friday, 13th. The weather during the night was quite bad, but when we woke up, everything seemed all right… till we wanted to start the engine. Something was wrong and we could not start. The reason would be the weather, but for sure I suggested Martin we could check the oil. The result was quite bad and I think it was probably a good idea did that, because without oil we could have some really serious troubles. We were walking to the town centre to buy some oil. The problem was we were in a small town and there was almost nothing. We found also a petrol station, but Martin decided to take some petrol in next town. It sounded like a good idea, but I was still wondering about some reserve. We bought and used some oil and tried to start the engine. After 15 minutes we succeeded. I was really happy. If your car is gone in or really close to a city, there is no problem to change the way of the transport, but in the middle of nowhere the situation is quite difficult. There was a way to the lighthouse, but close, so when our engine was running, we left Te Araora and tried to keep driving to next town.


That place was called Tikitiki and it was for the first time in New Zealand I thought we could be run out of petrol. Unfortunately when we reached that town we found we have to go to Ruatoria because there was no petrol station in Tikitiki. Despite the situation we were quite lucky guys, because another 20 minutes of driving was without any problem and when we arrived in Ruatoria, it was very cool. We took some petrol and like a bonus I met a lot of maori guys with their specific tattoos. One of them wanted me to do something with his cell phone (I did not understand him). I refused and returned back to car. Our next destination was Gisborne and we were driving there.


The way to Gisborne was really cool at all. I have to say that Bay of Plenty is really worth to visit, because you can see a lot of beautiful things. When we arrived in Gisborne, it looked really fancy. A lot of palms, nice narrow streets, maybe like some parts of California in the USA how I had known from some movies. Our plans were to take some petrol, buy some food and continue to Taupo around the coastline. We visited Pack `n` save again and after that I took the steering wheel and tried to reach Taupo. The distance was quite long, but I enjoyed that. I found some interesting things on NZ roads what were really useful. When I was close to Napier, I was quite tired, so Martin took driving and we could continue to Taupo where we arrived in the evening.

We accommodated in the first motel we found. It was quite nice. The best thing there was the Internet. Just $5 and we could connect how long we wanted. Inspired by Anna Kell and Tomoko Mochizuki, we were in Taupo because of Tongario Crossing, one of the best tracks in New Zealand, according to some guides. The same night we arrived we just relaxed. We were really tired, so we fell asleep during watching TV. In next morning we decided to extend our stay, because we expected that Tongario Crossing would be psychically difficult and take a shower would be useful. Martin recommended me to use toilets before, but after my living in mountains I knew what was necessary.


Martin brought some snacks and we left Taupo quite soon. The National Park was maybe 1 hour driving and I was really excited. We could observe whole Lake Taupo and it was really huge. Alan from Lake Tekapo told me that Lake Taupo is maybe as large as Singapore. When we reached the car park in National Park the weather was quite bad, but the first part of Tongario Crossing was under the trees (we started from the northern side) so it was all right. In some points the track was quite steep. I needed some breaks. After a while we could observe some mountains and a volcano. There had to be Mount Tongario aka Mount Doom from The lord of the Rings as well as Mordor all around. Unfortunately the visibility was quite low and I was quite tired and I not sure if I can get the first hut. However, we made that and we had a really great relax. We drank some water and red bulls and ate some snacks. It was really good and the second part was much better than before.


The sceneries were awesome. Unfortunately the weather was getting worse. There were some beautiful lakes, but the wind was ridiculously strong and dangerous. In spite of the weather conditions we kept walking. It was amazing and I wanted to continue as long as possible, but when we reached another lake, we had some really serious troubles. I tried to take some photos, but I could not. I was all right, but my fingers were completely frozen and the wind was stronger and stronger. We decided to return. The walk back was also really dangerous. The visibility still very low, but with Martin we took like a part of the experience. We reached the hut again and had a really good relaxation again. We were really strong guys and when we returned back to car park we walked more than 20 km through very rough terrain because of the weather. I heard that normally it is very straightforward track, but on the other hand I was prouder of me than usual. :) Even though I could not walk much after that, we returned back to Taupo and relaxed for the rest of the day.

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