New Zealand – Northern Island – Flight over Tongariro

RO: Si nu ne-o fi iesit noua zborul cu elicopterul in varf de Pao de Açucar in Rio de Janeiro, nici cel din Boracay, ca doar de, fix inainte de zborul nostru s-a trezit elicopterul vietii sa se defecteze, si-acum colac peste pupaza, nici in Noua Zeelanda nu am reusit sa zburam cu avioanele vintage de la Mandeville, la Muzeul de Aviatiei de la Croydon. Pentru ca ce sa vezi, taman atunci s-a imbolnavit pilotul! Dezamagiti cum nu se poate ca socoteala si planurile de-acasa nu se potrivesc mai niciodata cu cele din targ, nici n-am sperat s-avem vreo sansa azi sa vedem lacurile de smarald din parcul national Tongariro altfel decat facand traseul criminal Tongariro Alpine Crossing de 8 ore dus intors. Si-acum intre noi fie vorba, nu prea le-avem noi cu “muntomaneala”, asa ca am mai taiat o linie de pe itinerariu. Nu tu Emerald Lakes, nu tu cratere vulcanice de pe Tongariro. Daaaaar, taman cand te-astepti mai putin iti sare in ochi un mini-aeroport pe marginea drumului (ca doar e plina Noua Zeelanda de aerodromuri si aeroporturi), si ce sa vezi, sunt locuri libere in Cessna pe la 5. La fix cat sa aiba timp norii de pe Tongariro sa o ia la sanatoasa si sa ne faca loc sa vedem si un Blue Lake, si lacurile de smarald, si-un crater, doua, si izvoarele geotermale fumegand si mirosind a sulf de pe la 2000 de metri altitudine. Ne mai lipsea sa inceapa Tongariro sa erupa, si-aveam tacam complet!

EN: And maybe we haven’t been lucky enough to fly with the helicopter on top of Pao de Acucar in Rio de Janeiro, not even in Boracay as our helicopter got damaged right before our flight, and on top of everything not even here, in New Zealand we did not manage to fly with the vintage aircrafts from Mandeville, at the Aviation Museum from Croydon. Because what do you know, precisely in that day the pilot was ill! Disappointed that things did not turn as we expected, we did not even hope having any kind of chance to see the Emerald Lakes from Tongariro National Park other than going on the 8 hours hiking track from Tongariro Alpine Crossing. And between you and me, we’re not the fittest persons in the world, so we crossed another red line on our itinerary, skipping the Tongariro. No Emerald Lakes, no volcanic craters. Buuuuut, right when we least expected, a small airport on the side road bumped into our eyes (New Zealand is full of airports and aerodromes) and what do you know, they had available seats in the Cessna aircraft around 5PM. Just in time so that the clouds over Tongariro to run away and leave us some room to see the Blue Lake, the Emerald Lakes, one or two craters and the steamy geothermal springs, smelling of sulphur from 2000 meters altitude. If Tongariro would have started to erupt, the experience would have been complete 😀
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RO: Si-acum sa incepem cu teoria, ca asa-i sade bine calatorului, sa stie ce-i cu vulcanii pe care nu s-a incumetat sa-i catere 🙂 Parcul National Tongariro este asul din maneca insulei nordice! Un fel de replica a Parcului National Aoraki (Mt Cook). Pai doar ce, numai insula sudica sa fie vedeta Noii Zeelande? Bine, intre noi fie vorba, biata insula nordica abia are patru parcuri nationale (Egmont, Tongariro, Te Urewera si Whanganui), in vreme ce insula sudica isi face de cap cu cele zece parcuri nationale care nu lasa centimetru patrat de insula necuprins (Abel Tasman, Kahurangi, Paparoa, Mount Aspiring, Fiordland, Rakiura, Aoraki, Westland, Arthur’s Pass, Nelson Lakes). Bun, dar noi suntem in mijlocul parcului Tongariro, cel care cuprinde trei vulcani tantosi si active (pai n-a erupt Tongariro acum, de curand, prin 2012?!), lacuri de smarald si tot soiul de peisaje contrastante. Tongariro (2797 metri), Ngauruhoe (2291 metri) si Ruapehu (1968 metri) sunt copiii mandri ai parcului national, si au fost dati cadou (da, pe bune) neozeelandezilor de catre seful maor Te Heuheu in 1887. Si uite ca au avut kiwienii grija de cadou, c-a devenit patrimoniu Unesco intre timp. Pai cum sa fie altfel? Tongariro-i cel mai inalt varf din toata insula de nord, Ngauruhoe are forma perfecta (dar perfecta!) de con, de zici c-a fost scos fix dintr-o picture, iar Ruapehu sta cumva cumintel si timid in umbra fratilor mai mari.

EN: And now let’s start with some theory, as the traveler that did not dare to climb the volcanoes should at least know some things about them 🙂 Tongariro National Park is northern island’s ace up the sleeve! A kind of replica of the Aorali (Mt Cook) National Park. What have we thought, that southern island is the only star of New Zealand? Well, honestly, between you and me, poor northern island barely has four national parks (Egmont, Tongariro, Te Urewera and Whanganui), while the southern one is running wild with its ten national park that do not leave any uncovered centimeter on the island (Abel Tasman, Kahurangi, Paparoa, Mount Aspiring, Fiordland, Rakiura, Aoraki, Westland, Arthur’s Pass, Nelson Lakes). OK, but we’re in the middle of Tongariro, the one that comprises three active volcanoes (recalling Tongariro’s last eruption in 2012!), emerald lakes and all kind of contrasting landscapes. Tongariro (2797 meters), Ngauruhoe (2291 meters) and Ruapehu (1968 meters) are the proud children of the national park and have been offered as a present (yup, really) by the Maori leader Te Heuheu in 1887. And looks like the kiwis took care of this place, as it has became an Unesco world heritage site in the meantime. And how could it be different? Tongariro is the tallest peak in the entire northern island, Ngauruhoe has the perfect cone shape that makes you think that it has been taken out of a picture, and Ruapehu is quietly and shyly staying behind his bigger brothers.

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Tongariro Mountain covered by clouds (2797 m)

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Ngauruhoe Mountain
Ngauruhoe Mountain (2291 m)

RO: Bun, acum ca ne-am lamurit ce-i cu Tongariro si toata floarea cea vestita a drumetiilor montane, n-avem cum sa nu spunem doua vorbe despre Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Cu fruntea-n pamant recunoastem ca nu ne-am incumetat nici macar sa incepem bietul traseu (macar pan’ la Soda Springs!), daramite sa-l terminam! Si-asta desi stiam de la madam Lonely Planet ca-i cel mai tare traseu de o zi intreaga din toata Noua Zeelanda. Aproape 20 de kilometric de la parcarea Mangatepopo pana dincolo de vulcan, la Ketetahi (aici e harta detaliata pentru cei mai in forma ca noi :D)

EN: Ok, and now that we clarified what’s going on with Tongariro and all the famous hiking trails, we cannot go further without saying a few words about Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We’re ashamed to confess that we did not even dare to start the poor hiking trail (not even to Soda Springs), not to mention to finish it! And we actually knew from the Lonely Planet guide that this is the best one day hiking trail from the entire New Zealand. Almost 20 kilometers from Nagatepopo parking until the other side of the volcano, at Ketetahi parking (here you can find the detailed map for those of you that are in shape, unlike us :D)
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RO: Hei, dar stati asa. Noi de-aicea nu plecam, nu plecam acaaaaasa! Cel putin nu inainte de a va spune legenda cu amorezeala zeilor-munti neozeelandezi. Pai care va sa zica a fost odata ca niciodata o iubire cum nici in telenovelele cele mai siropoase nu gasesti! Patru zei-munti tantosi (Taranaki, Putauaki, Tongariro si Tauhara) se luptau pentru inima “muntitei” Pihanga. S-au luptat ce s-au luptat bietii munti si in final castigatorul a fost Tongariro. Ceilalti munti, suparati de nu se poate, si-au luat jucariile si-au plecat unde-au vazut cu ochii. Si n-aveau multa vreme la dispozitie sa isi ia talpasita, abia pana-n zori. Taranaki s-a dus la vest si lacrimile lui de durere au creat raul Whanganui. Putauaki s-a miscat repede si s-a dus inspre mare,  astfel ca dimineata l-a prins in nordul padurii Kaingaroa. Insa Tauhara, foarte ranit si suparat, s-a miscat mai incet, s-a tot uitat inapoi inspre muntita, asa ca dimineata l-a gasit aproape, in nord estul lacului Taupo. Si bietul de el inca se mai uita cu durere la Pihanga si sotul ei Tongariro 🙂 Romantici incurabili maorii astia 🙂

EN: Heeeey, but wait a minute! We’re not going home, not until we tell you the love story between the god-mountains. Seems that there has been a love story like no other! Four god mountains (Taranaki, Putauaki, Tongariro and Tauhara) we’re fighting for Pihanga’s heart. They fought and they fought and in the end the winner was Tongariro. The other mountains, sad and disappointed, had to leave as far as the eyes could see. And they did not have too much time to do that, just until sunrise. Taranaki went to the west and he’s tears of grief have created the Whanganui river. Putauaki moved faster and went towards the sea, so in the morning he was already in the northern part of the Kaingaroa forest. But Tauhara, being so hurt and upset, moved slower and kept looking back towards Pihanga, so at sunrise he was still close, in the north eastern part of lake Taupo. And poor him still looks with pain and regret at Pihanga and her husband Tongariro 🙂 Hopeless romantics, the Maori people 🙂
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RO: Si-acum gata, pe bune ca plecam acasa. Dar mai avem o zi, o biata zi pana cand ne luam zborul catre cealalta emisfera. Dar pan-atunci ne bucuram de-un drum spre Coromandel (daca ne ies planurile de condus), o priveliste frumoasa catre lacul Taupo, un apus superb la Oreti Village Resort si-un curry complet netraditional pe fuga la indianu’ din colt. Ce sa faci daca te loveste foamea dupa ora 8 seara in Turangi si toate restaurantele, pub-urile si bodegile sunt deja ferecate de parc-ar sta sa vina Apocalipsa? 😀

EN: And now we’re ready, we really have to go home.   But there is only one more day, one poor day and we have to fly back to the other hemisphere. But until then let’s enjoy a road trip to Coromandel (if everything goes well with our driving plans), o nice view towards lake Taupo, a gorgeous sunset at Oreti Village Resort and a completely not traditional curry from the Indian guy at the corner of the street. What can you do if you’re starving after 8 o’clock in Turangi and all the restaurants, pubs and bars are already closed and locked as if the Apocalypse would come? 😀
Sunset at Oreti Village Resort_New Zealand

 

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