Back  Home  January 2002 March 2002 Maren & Kirk

February 2002 Daily Diary

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(Australia, New Zealand)



Today the weather seemed really good in the morning, but to our disappointment this soon changed.  For breakfast instant oatmeal was on the menu. Maren likes the oatmeal a lot, but for Kirk it is just a filler.  It took us 2.5 hours to the next hut, there we had some chocolate, which tasted great.  We wanted to hike up Mt. Oscan (Tasmania's highest mountain, 1610 m), but the weather was really foggy and it was raining. So we decided to push on further since we would have had no views anyway.  We walked to Pelion Hut where we had a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch (14:00 pm).  We had already hiked 19 Km, but we decided to hike further.  We ended up hiking up another  16 Km around  to Windermere Hut.  It should have taken 5-6 hours but we almost ran and it took us 4 hours and 25 minutes. Along the way we hiked through many different landscapes, swamps, fairytale forests and rain forests. Really a lot of diversity.  There we again pitched our tent, ate as much as our stomachs could hold and collapsed in bed.  Maren cooked a great tasting noodle dinner. It was a hard and especially long hike and we were completely exhausted.  The hiking was also difficult because along the way there were a lot of roots coming up and one had to concentrate on not tripping.  We were also a little sad that we were not able to see more.  It was rainy and foggy all afternoon.  What we found amazing were the number of Germans we met.  Germans really seem to be everywhere.  One notices that they have 6 weeks vacation a year.

8:30 am - 19:40 pm

Windy Ridge

Dulane Hut: 7.5 Km - 2.5 Hours

Kia Ora Hut: 2.5 Km - 45 Min.

Pelion Hut (1 hr. break): 9 Km - 2.5 Hours

Frog Falls Camp: 4.5Km - 1.25 Hours

Windermere Hut: 12.25 Km - 3 Hours 10 min


We hiked 17.75 Km out of from Windermere to Cradle Mountain in 5 hours. We got up really early and got out hiking really early. The weather was again bad and even worse than yesterday.  So we again were disappointed that we did not see much.  We had planned to do the 80 km trek in 4 or 5 days, but we ended up doing it in 2.5 days. We would have stayed longer if the weather was much better.  At one point it rained so hard it hurt.  It also came so fast that Kirk did not have time to put on his jacket and got soaking wet.  The hike in the beginning was at first a little up hill and then the last part was down hill. We arrived at the car park at around 12:30 pm. There a bus driver was dropping passengers off from the town which was 7 Km away. We asked him how much it costs and he said 9 A$. That was really too much for us, so we decided to hike to town.  6 Km more was not going to hurt us. Along the way the bus driver drove by with an empty bus and said he would give us a free ride if we do not tell his boss.  That was really nice of him, especially because it meant we would be able to catch the 1:00 pm bus to Launceston and we would not have to spend another night there.  The bus ride was really expensive.  It first went to Davenport, where the ferry departs to Melbourne.  In Launceston we were dropped off at a Caravan Park. There we set up our tent, went to Woolworth's food shopping.  In the evening we had noodles with a tomato and sausage sauce.  It was delicious.  What we find good hear in Australia is that the supermarkets mark down the prices of some foods that the expiration date is soon to expire or will not be fresh anymore. One can often get some great deals and makes a huge difference on our budget.  One gets a lot of products for over 50 percent off.

7:30 am - 12:30 pm

Windermere Hut

Waterfall Valley Hut: 7.75 Km - 2 Hours

Waldheim/Ronny Creek: 10 Km - 3 Hours


In the morning we walked to Launceston and looked for the best deal on rental cars.  After searching and making a lot of phone calls, we determined AVIS would be the cheapest place to rent a car.  We also found a 10 A$ off coupon in a local paper.  We then walked around, going to the gorge and walking back to the caravan park. There we had lunch and at around 4:00 pm we walked to the Avis office in a really nice hotel and picked up our car. What is really good is that we only had to rent the car for 3 days and we could drop the car off at the airport in Hobart.  So that will save us some money there as the buses in Tasmania are very expensive.  We also had the possibility to see much more of the island.  So at 5:00 pm we took the car and drove back through Davenport to Stanley which lies on the North West part of the island.  There we climbed the Nut in the early evening and walked around the top.  It was really beautiful with a great sunset over the town and the ocean.  Later on we parked our car at a rest spot along the ocean which we had seen on the way to Stanley.  There we ate some sandwiches and slept in our Nissan Pulsar 5 door rental car.  It was ok because the front seats went back quite far, almost flat. We actually slept really well.


We got up really early, which was good since a ranger came by really early to fix something.  We were not sure if it was allowed or not.  After eating a quick peanut butter and jelly breakfast, we drove along the West Coast.  The coast was really beautiful and we stopped shortly at different places along the way.  There were basically no tourists along much of the way until we got to Strahan.  It was a dirt road most of the way, at one point we had to pay for a ferry across a small river in Corina.  Before Strahan we stopped at the sand dunes which were very impressive.  Strahan is a very popular tourist town with a very nice town center.  After walking around we drove to the East Coast. There we slept in our car along the ocean in the Coles Bay National Park.  All around our car were lots of kangaroos. The views at night of the ocean crashing up against the rocks were beautiful. 


In the morning we did a small hike in Coles Bay. We walked to the lookout point overlooking Wineglass Bay.  We decided then to drive to Port Arthur.  Port Arthur is a really historic site where they had a prison.  At first we were amazed how expensive the entrance fee was (even been with a student discount). However it turned out to be well worth it. First we went on a small tour explaining the prison and history of the place and then we went on a small boat ride in the harbor.   Afterwards we took a walk around the grounds and checked out the old buildings.  After we checked out the museum we cooked a dinner in the park at the Port Arthur reserve.  We then drove through Hobart and parked and slept in our car at a rest place near the sea.  It was good we slept in our car since we were saving a lot of money.


  After waking up early, we noticed we parked our car along the ocean and had some beautiful views.  We then took the long way back to Hobart.   There we did some sightseeing and Kirk got a much needed hair cut after we checked the whole town for the cheapest place to get it.  He got the no fuzz cut, which means a 1 minute quick shave of the head.  Kirk's skin on his head was really bad and getting it short usually helps.  We then went to a Caravan Park to take a shower.  Not that it is allowed, but it was the Caravan Park we stayed in when we first arrived in Hobart,  so we knew where we had to go.  So we got a much needed shower.  No one noticed. We then drove to the airport a few hours early hoping to do some computer work.  Our flight was for 8:00 pm, but they had spaces free on an earlier flight back to Melbourne and offered us the seats.  So we got the next flight out.  It was a quick flight, but this time no delicious sandwich.   At the airport we found a space where we could do some computer work.  Afterwards we took the airport shuttle to the car park and put up the curtains and went to sleep.  It did not cost us anymore to sleep there, because we were paying for every 24 hours. So it was a good spot as any to sleep.


In the morning we parked our car near the McDonalds near the airport and walked back to the Airport and took a shower there. They have public showers to use there. Afterwards we went into Melbourne city, where we walked around, called Penny and did some internet work. We also bought a new gift for her new baby.  Later we went food shopping and then to the beach where we walked around a little, before we took a small nap in our car.  Later on we went over to Penny's parents house for dinner.  It was quite a nice evening. Felt bad since she had to constantly take care of the baby.  The dinner was quite good even though I think they thought it was not. I could have eaten much more.  It was nice to see them again. Her sister was also pregnant and was expecting soon.  At 11:00 pm we left and drove a while and parked the car at a rest stop and slept. 


In the morning we drove to Mt. Kosciuszko National Park.  Only thing we did along the way was doing a little food shopping and tank our van.  The drive through the park was beautiful.  In the park we arrived at the starting point for the walk of Mt. Kosciuszko around 4:00 pm.  However we decided we would try and hike the 18 km trek to the top of Australia's highest mountain.  The hike was really easy and not difficult.  We did it in 3.5 hours round trip. The hike up was on really well done paths that a car could drive up. It was also not steep at any stage.  Kind of a joke for the highest mountain of a continent. The views were really nice though from up top. After the hike we drove a while until we found a suitable place to park and slept.


We arrived early in Canberra this morning.  We visited the new Parliament House and walked around the surrounding lawns.  The place is actually really well done and we had a really nice feeling about it. We also visited the library where there is free internet access.  Canberra is a fairly organized town with lots of green space. After a half day there we decided to drive up to Sydney. In the early evening we arrived in Sydney and drove to Kings Cross.  Kings Cross is the Backpackers part of the city, but also where the junkies, prostitutes, and sex shops are.  A little weird that all the backpacker hostels are in such an area.  The internet cafés were also much cheaper here than other parts of Australia.  In the evening we drove to Bondi and parked our van. After walking around a little we put up the curtains and went to sleep.


In the morning we woke up and noticed that our van was parked in a no parking spot.  We then decided we should drive a little bit outside the city to the suburbs to find a do it yourself car wash.  After looking around a lot we found out that no car wash was open on Sunday. So we did a little food shopping and drove to a beach near the airport.  We first cleaned up our car and got things organized. Maren did a lot while Kirk was lazy and took a small nap.  We also had lunch and took a walk to town along the beach.  In the evening we went early to bed after we had dinner.  It was really kind of cool that we could watch the airplanes take off and land. 


In the morning we drove to Kings Cross looked for a garage that would do the roadworthy test.  We picked the wrong garage. He was not that friendly and he gave us a white slip which means we could sell the car, but there were problems with it.  A pink slip is the paper one wants because that means you past the test.   We did not realize actually that we had failed some parts of the tests, because he said we could take the slip and sell the car.  When we found out later and understood our fail test we walked back to him and asked him why we received this slip. He basically blew us off and talked us out of his shop. What an a-hole. What we also noticed later is that he charged us 30 A$ instead of the 26 A$ he wrote on the receipt. But we had not basis to argue because we paid cash.  So he ripped us off there as well. We then decided to park our car in Kings Cross and do a little sight seeing of the city. We walked down to the Harbor, Botanical Garden and the Opera House.  Sydney is a beautiful city. We also printed out advertisements for our van and hung them up in the backpackers and internet cafés.  In the evening we had McDonalds family pack for dinner (2 Big Macs, 2 Cheeseburger, 2 medium fries, 2 small fries for only 9.95 A$). We then slept in our van on a side street in King Cross.


At 8:00 am  we were at the car park to sell our car.  We were hoping for a quick sell.  Kirk quickly washed the car on the outside.  It looked pretty good and we were praying it would be sold soon.  However not that many people were there.  That means no buyers and a lot of sellers. So things did not look great.  We met a nice young Danish couple who were selling there van also and have been there for 7 days already.  So we hung out with them for a while and drank a beer. People often gives out free beers when they sell there car.  Maren during the day also visited the German Consulate to get a new passport. What a pain in the but. First it cost 50 A$ for a new Passport + 10 A$ to fax a letter to Cologne for permission to give Maren a new passport.  Well by 5:00 pm we had not sold our car and it was time to leave. We parked our car back in Kings Cross, where we had parked the night before.  On the way to the internet cafe, Mike (whom we met in Tibet who lives in Sydney) gave us a call and invited us to stay at his place at Bondi Beach.  That was really nice of him. So tomorrow we will have a place to stay. Mike is a really nice guy. We just did a little walk around Kings Cross and then went to sleep in our van.  Kirk also patched up some rust spots and touched up some areas with spray paint.


We got up early and head to the bomb shelter, which Kirk calls the Car Park where the backpacker car market is. It is on the ground floor of a car garage. So the air is not great and the car fumes can give you a headache. We first parked our car where there was an opening where fresh air can come in.  In the car park it is quite boring and can be very frustrating. Hardly anyone looked at our car today. Yesterday at least 2 people looked at our van. By the way we were selling the van for 3300 A$. Some people sold their car, so it did not seem hopeless.  However the day went quickly. We drank a few beers and talked to different people selling their cars.  Mike also dropped off a key for his place, which was really nice.  So we were very happy we would have a place to stay that night and we could take a much needed shower.  We could also cook what was nice.  Mike came in really late and we could only speak to him a little.  We slept on the floor, but it was fine and we slept great.  It was so nice of him to let us use his place.


We got up early and drove the van back to the car park in Kings Cross. We thought we were loosing oil, but we were not which we found out later.  So we were worried that our car was falling apart at the last moment.  Also the car was stalling at times, which it did not do the whole trip. Kirk thought it was bad or dirty fuel.  Hardly anyone looked at our van today.  The Danish couple sold there car.  Kirk had noticed that some people were looking at there car in the early morning and the Danish couple was not yet there, so Kirk starting selling there car to them, telling them how good it was.  When the Danish couple came, the buyers ask the Danish couple if Kirk was getting a commission.  So now Kirk has to sell his own car.  The car park has a free barbeque every Thursday.  Maren cut the onions with two other Swiss girls and Maren chose Kirk to cook the sausages and onions on the barbecue.  So it gave us something to do and a few free beers.  We did not sell our van again today.  After the car park we went back to Bondi, had dinner and took a walk along Bondi Beach.  We left our van in the Car Park, not wanting to drive it anymore, risking it breaking down or falling more apart.  I think we were just being a little paranoid.


We took the bus and train to Kings Cross at around 7:30 am.  Maren went to the German Consulate to pick up here passport.  What a pain. They finally received the ok from Cologne Germany, only after Norbert called Cologne and put pressure on them to do something.  There was a couple that was interested in our car, but ended up buying another car. So we had our hopes up for a while. We hung out with 2 Swiss couples and an Israeli couple. They were all very nice and we had a good time. We played Uno and drank a few beers, all hoping to sell the cars.  An Israeli guy gave us a ride back to Bondi. That was nice since it saved us the fare.  In the evening Irene called and we told her to come over to Mikes. We were not that comfortable with that because Mike did not know, but he also met her in Tibet.  In the evening we had some wine with them and talked at Mike's place. It was really nice to see her again. 


Today was like everyday in the car park. Not much happened.  At least with our van.  One Swiss couple sold their van.  We again played some cards and drank beers and waited for our car to sell. It was funny there, after a while one learned what was wrong with every ones cars.  What we all found really weird was that so many people were looking for Volkswagen vans only.  They are a cult van for people visiting Australia.  But they fall apart easily, all from the 1970's or 1960's, and they are air cooled not water cooled which makes them useless in the Outback.  However they do sell.  Later on Silke came down to the car park. We met her in Perth.  After the car park Kirk went to the Internet Cafe where he met Rene.  Maren had a coffee with Silke.  It was nice seeing the both of them again.  For dinner we bought a 14 A$ XL pizza which was tasty, but expensive for us.  We were just really lazy to go and get anything else.  We ate a little at Kings Cross and then ate the rest at Mike's in front of the TV.


Today more people looked at our car. We put up a sign today, saying leaving Monday.  Just to get people interested in our car.  However we did not sell again. We almost sold to some Germans, but they wanted to have a mechanic looking at the car, but none was working on Sunday.  So they bought another car with a pink slip. So we were again not lucky.  But we still had one day left to sell out car before we would have to pay 65 A$ for another week.  Kirk also took the price down to 2799 A$.  Maybe this will work better.  Silke hung out with us for most of the day.  We still had a little bit of fun there, drinking a few beers and hanging out with other sellers. We also met a really nice Austrian couple trying to sell a van.  Maren exchanged notes on different places we have visited and they had visited.   There were a lot of cars sold, but not ours.  It is frustrating, but we still had hope for tomorrow.  We went to the internet cafe and Maren found out her mother was again in the hospital, so she quickly phoned home.  We were relieved that it was not that bad. We just wish we heard about it before hand.  Rene was at the Internet Cafe.  We had dinner at Mike's then went to bed.  Kirk also took a swim at Bondi Beach.


Today turned out to be our lucky day. We set the price down to 2777 $.  We got to the car park early as usual.  In the morning there weren't again many buyers.  However in the early afternoon this changed.  A plane must have landed and as Kirk named new buyers, "Fresh Meat" was arriving.  Actually suddenly there were a lot of people in the car park. We just hoped someone would buy our van.  A few people looked at it, including an Israeli couple who were not sure about it because the air conditioning really did not work or had to be refilled and the van only had an AM radio. What do they expect for 2700 A$.  However around 3:00 pm an New Zealander with his Swiss girlfriend came along. They had already checked out a lot of other vans in the place.  They seemed to like our van, took it for a test drive and offered us 2600A$. We of course said yes already.  They only wanted to think about it over a coffee. They came back .5 hours later and said they'll take it. They only wanted to ask a mechanic about the engine work we had done.  He took the papers and came back 20 minutes later with the money and we signed the papers.  In the meantime waiting for him we were really nervous.  But it turned out well.  We were really relieved and happy we got rid of it. They were really nice and we wish them all the luck.  After all repairs and registration fees we lost about 500 A$ (260 US$). Not bad for driving 14000 km.  After writing some emails home and walking around the city a little we bought 2 pizzas at Woolworth for 1 A$ each and had those for dinner. All we did was watching TV later.  Maren seemed happier than Kirk that the van was sold.  We quickly faxed the registration papers to the Motor Vehicle Department so we would not be responsible for the van anymore.  We are happy to be out of the bomb shelter (Kirk's name for the Car Park).  


We actually got up early and decided to see a little of Sydney after spending the last 7 days in the dark.  We first went into the city and bought a Lonely Planet New Zealand and a gift for Mike. He has been great and we have really appreciated him letting us stay at his place.   It has really helped us out a lot.  We went then to Mosman with the ferry.  We visited the neighborhood where Maren worked as an Au-Pair for a year.  She said not much has changed.  We then took the bus to Spit bridge and we did the 7 Km Coastal walk. It was really beautiful walking along the coast.  A dog followed us all the way to Manly and actually all the way to the ferry, where someone called it's owner (the name tag was on its collar).  We took the ferry back to the city and then the train and bus back to Bondi Beach. I think I forgot to mention that the day day before yesterday someone in the car park gave us their weekly pass which was good until the 20th.  They were leaving Sydney.  We then decided to change our flight to Auckland to Saturday.  We wanted to catch up on our website and relax a bit before we would fly to New Zealand.  We were very happy that we would not have to get up really early the next morning. 


This morning we got up late (8:15 am) for the first time in Sydney.  Kirk hook up the laptop to Mike's phone line and did some work and later Kirk called his mother. It is really cheap in Australia if one buys a calling card. It costs around 6.5 Australian cents per minute only.  Since we still had our travel pass, we went to the city again. First to Darling Harbor then we walked to the Opera House and through the Botanic Gardens to Kings Cross.  In Kings Cross we visited the car market to see if the Austrian couple wanted to meet us on Friday evening.  We did a little food shopping later then went to Mikes place and did a lot of computer work.  We were way behind.  We have never been so behind since we have been traveling. Kirk went really late to bed.


Kirk was really lazy and got up late.  We basically just worked on the computer all morning and did our website. Later on Kirk uploaded some stuff and did some work in the internet.  Otherwise we did not do much until Silke came to Bondi and we went to the beach.  Kirk went for a swim, then went back to Mike's apartment and did some more computer work. He tried to fix the computer, but it was still giving us some problems. Maren stayed at the beach with Silke and came back later.  Kirk worked all evening on the computer and Maren did some reading. Kind of a relaxing day. Mike came home really late. We hardly ever seen him. Too bad. 


This morning we did some computer work, ate our one dollar pizzas and the went for a small walk around Bondi.  Kirk also went for a swim. It must be nice to be able to go for a swim in the ocean when ever you want.  The waves are ok and one can do some really good body surfing. It is a lot of fun. Later, Maren worked on sorting out pictures and Kirk wrote the diary further.  In the evening we met up with Karin and Jürgen.. We went to the wharf between Kings Cross and the Botanic Gardens and had meat pies for dinner along with some nachos and dip we brought before.  The cafe is called Harry's Café de Wheel. It was actually a really nice evening.  They just sold their car in the car market and made a 700A$ profit. Not bad for 6 days work. They are on their second long trip traveling the world. So it was good exchanging experiences and tips for different countries.  They are going to China next.  Afterwards we took the train back to Bondi Junction, went to Woolworth's, looking for specials and then back to Mike's place.  At Mike's we drank some wine with him and talked till the early hours of the morning. He also has a music tape of Ethiopian Music, which brought back fond memories of Ethiopia.  Hopefully he will send us a copy of the tape. This tape the Ethiopians played from morning to evening. 


We both got up a little late, Kirk especially.  During breakfast we talked with Mike again before he took off somewhere after 12:00 pm.  Kirk then uploaded our website and checked our email. It was really nice of Mike to allow us to use his telephone line.  After getting everything packed Maren wrote Mike a note thanking him again and we walked to Bondi Junction with our backpacks.  It took almost a hour and we were sweating when we arrived. There we took the train to Central Station and got the next Airport Train to the international terminal.  There we checked in, used Samsung's free internet booths a few times and also had a McSundae with the rest of our change. We only had 3 A$ left and it cost 3.10 A$ for two, but Maren bargained and got it for 3 A$. Telling them that is all she had.  It was actually no problem.  First time that we have both seen that someone has bargained at McDonalds.  The flight went ok, the movie stunk, do not even remember the name of it. We both read some magazines and 2 hours and forty minutes later our plane landed in Auckland.  There Kirk had to get his boots sanitized and the tent was also taken through quarantine.  They are very strict here on what one is allowed to bring in.   It was around 11:00 pm when we landed, as we did not want to pay for accommodation, we slept in the airport. It was not that bad because they had a carpeted tribune there, which was a good place to make a bed.  Also all the backpackers in Auckland were full because of a big cricket match in town. The only accommodation that had a vacancy was a hotel near the airport for 99 NZ$ a night. 


In the morning we called a lot of rental car places. It is high season, so not only are the prices high, but also there are not many cars available.  We also called the ferry operator in Wellington to see what ferries were available to go to the South Island.  We then took the expensive airport bus to Auckland where we went to the Kiwi Backpackers. The Kiwi Backpackers was one of the cheapest places to stay.  That was noticeable right away. It was dirty and not very nice. We were glad we were only spending one night.   After checking in it was off to do a little sightseeing and gather a little more information.  We booked the ferry and a car for 35 NZ$ a day (around 15 US$). We were a little dumb with the ferry, we could have booked the ferry for 140 NZ $ one way at the airport, but now there were only spaces free for the 201 NZ $. When we had called from the airport someone must have just canceled the super saver fare.  We did not realize it and took too much time up in making our decision on when we wanted to take the ferry.  Next time we will know better.  After walking around Auckland and visiting the wharf and a few other sites we used the internet for 10 minutes.  It cost us +1 NZ $ because later on we realized that we got too much change back. He only had change of coins for a 1 NZ$ purchase and supplied us with 21 NZ $ change. That was lucky.  Before returning to the hostel, we went food shopping. In the hostel Maren cooked a spaghetti and pesto dinner. Kirk then watched some TV while Maren went early to bed.


In the morning we packed our stuff walked up to the Kiwi International Hotel where the car rental company was supposed to pick us up. However they were late and when they did come, they picked someone up at our backpacker's anyway, even though they knew we were staying there as well and told us to walk a long way to the other hotel, weird.  The car which we received was a 1991 Honda Civic Automatic. It was ok, but it had a few dents and small cracks in the windscreen.  But it was cheap and we were happy to have a car.  We also got a free coffee.  It was then off to Waitomo where we visited the Glowworm Cave. It was very expensive to visit, 25 NZ $ each to visit one cave and a very small museum.  Way too much for what they offered.  The guide todur through the cave was 45 minutes which included a 3 minute boat ride out of the cave.  The cave was ordinary, but the glowworms were impressive, especially on the boat ride.  It was like looking up at millions of stars on a black clear night.  It was still not worth the price of admission though.  We then drove to Rotorua (Sulphure City), where they have thermal pools, bubbling mud pools and springs.  It also stinks very bad. In the late afternoon we walked around a park where the thermal activity was very noticeable.  It smelled really bad, but the bubbling mud and springs were really interesting.  Later on we drove around town, visiting the Rotorua Museum from the outside only since it was already closed.  We then went food shopping before we parked our car just outside the park along the Rotorua Lake and went to sleep for the night. What we have found is that the Pak n Save supermarket is the cheaper supermarket on the Island.  Woolworth seems too much more expensive.  Weird since we found Woolworth in Australia to be one of the cheaper ones.  Sleeping in the car was no problem, the seat went back pretty far and our sleeping bags are warm enough.


In the morning Maren really wanted to see Te Whakarewarewa Thermal reserve where there is supposedly a spectacular geyser.  However the entrance fee was a steep 18 NZ $, so we decided that was too much. It was not only the price that disturbed us, it looked like a cheap tourist attraction dump.  The village was not very attractive and it seemed just too much money to visit.  So we then drove to Lake Taupo and then to Whakapapa Village from where we started the Northern Tongariro Circuit.  In the village we paid for two nights camping on the trek and then took off on the trek to the first campsite and hut at around 2:00 pm.  Today we only hiked 2.5 hours to the first campsite, Mangatepopo Hut.  It was an easy walk.  We met there a German hitch hiker we had picked up earlier on the way.  We camped there because it was cheaper, but we were allowed to use the hut facilities, including the gas cooker.  We had our cooker along with us, but the cooker in the huts wase much better.  The sunset views from this hut were beautiful as was the view of the Volcano above.  We slept ok in out tent, even though we do not have any mattresses to sleep on.  We put our Goretex jackets under our sleeping bags, used our cloths as pillows, and put our feet up onto our backpacks.  It works surprisingly well. 


We got up really early, had a delicious muesli breakfast and then were off on the trek by 7:15 am.  We were one of the first people up and going. We wanted to first climb the Mt. Ngauruhoe Volcano (2291m) which is a side trek and also not get caught up by the day hikers who come to do the Tongariro Crossing trek, who use the same path as the Tongariro Circuit Trek.  We hiked 1.25 Hours to the saddle, from there we took the side trek up the Volcano. It was a steep 1 hour and 20 minute to reach the top and the crater. It was a steep hike up and we were very happy that we left our backpacks at the base.  At the top we hike around the crater and then jumped our way down on the skeet.  One sort of skis down the mountain, which is also a lot of fun.  It is sort of the same ground covering as Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  At the bottom we ate most of our chocolate.  It tasted so good, that we could not stop eating it. We then hiked to the Waihohonu Hut where we camped along a small river.  Along the way to the hut Maren hurt her knee and had a lot of trouble walking.  She was in a lot of pain when she bent her knee, especially going down hill.  When we had gotten to the bottom of the volcano, there were lots of people coming by and doing the day trek.  For about an hour, the trek was quite crowded. However after passing the Emerald Lakes we were again just about alone.  In  evening we cooked noodles and pesto again and then went early to bed. Maren wanted to rest her knee.


In the morning during breakfast the both of us decided it would be better if Maren took the 1.5 hour hike out to highway 1 and Kirk hiked back to the village where the car was. Her knee was still hurting and she did not want to aggravate it more.   Kirk's hike was signposted for 5.5 hours but he did it quickly in 3.5 hours, with a side trek to Lower Lake Tomo.  The weather was not great, but the views were still nice.  In the village Kirk picked up the car and drove halfway around the park and picked up Maren sitting next to the highway waiting for him for 2 hours.  It was then off in the direction of Wellington because we were catching the 1:30 am ferry that night.  The drive was really nice.  The landscape is beautiful and very green.  In Foxton we stopped at the beach and took a much needed shower.  We were stinking after the trek and were very happy to find a public shower on the beach. The showers were very dirty, especially the men's shower, but well worth it. Getting clean sometimes feels really good even though the shower was ice cold.  The coast was also beautiful, but very windy.  We then drove to Wellington, where we arrived just before it was getting dark.  There we walked around town, checked our emails and then drove to the ferry station. There it was just waiting around for a few hours until the ferry came into port and we were allowed to drive on. 

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