Tag Archives: mountains

Volcanic wanderings – part one

On Saturday I did the Tongariro Crossing – and it was amazing. I was showing my pictures to a friend here and she wasn’t that impressed with the scenery so I’m thinking maybe you did kinda hafta be there… But it’s a volcanic and thermal landscape (an active one too!) and quite otherworldly. I’ve put some photos below to give a flavour.

The walk starts off gentle. Here you can see Mt Doom, er I mean Mt Ngauruhoe.

Eventually you start climbing. And up and up you go, along the so-called Devil’s Staircase, giving you views of the surrounding terrain and clouds. This part is a killer.

And eventually you find yourself above the Red Crater.

Coming across a ridge, you then get fantastic views of sulphurous lakes. Very pretty, but don’t contemplate a swim here!

Beyond the ridge, you can look back and see the Red Crater from a new angle. Such striking colours!

The terrain changes again and you can see the steam from some thermal springs as you make your way downwards.

And eventually everything settles down into the usual forest bushwalk. Ferns, ferns and more ferns, etc. You can see pics of that sort of thing elsewhere! Then after approximately seven hours of walking, one drags one’s exhausted carcus onto the waiting shuttle bus. So that’s my very quick overview, hope it’s vaguely accurate.

Here’s me with Mt Doom. Picture was taken by a guy who was running the track. Madman.

Well, I’m now in Rotorua and have more to tell of volcanic and thermal deliciousness but that will have to wait until my next post as it’s dinnertime, I’m afraid. Suffice to say it’s quite eggy here in Rotorua. (I’m not talking about my dinner.)

Tracy in the sky

The time in Franz Josef was good – a bit of a chill-out time, hanging out with the ‘gang’. That horse trek never happened, though, a casualty of the difficulties in trying to coordinate a number of people’s schedules. J and I explored the local area and attempted to swim in the sea, which was hit us with stones, and in Okarito lagoon, which was surprisingly chilly. Found other forms of outdoor recreation, then returned to the village to arrange an overnight stay outside the accommodation where our friends were staying. The woman in the public bar said they were happy for us to park up and pay a fiver for a couple showers. That was until the next morning when, having just thrown open the camper van doors to get some life affirming cool air, we heard the crunching of gravel and were accosted by a man claiming that the owner didn’t want us there and it was lucky he was away or he’d be towing us away. Seems you just can’t win sometimes. But we were able to depart unscathed.

We decided to go have a look at Fox glacier. So here it is.

Carried on, following another of those lovely twisting roads, stopping off at a salmon farm/cafe for lunch and coffee. They did some tasty smoked salmon there. Through Mt Aspiring National Park, past beautiful waterfalls,

and Lakes Hawea and Wanaka, finally arriving at Lake Hawea village to stay for the night. Was hot, hot, hot well into the evening. Did some laundry (ooh) and cooked some dinner (aah), and later on went for a walk. It was very, very quiet where we were (gosh, it was quiet) and there were many, many stars to be seen. I can now find the Southern Cross very easily – those pointer stars do what they’re meant to. Go stargazer Trace.

Next morning it was a short drive into Wanaka, a chilled out lakeside town. We did the fuel, groceries, ice for the cooler routine, then paid a visit to Puzzling World. Very good fun those illusion rooms. You can create your own illusions too, if you are as clever as I am (ha ha) and also get totally caught up in the devilish puzzles they leave out in the cafe area (and not get at all frustrated when you can’t solve them, if you are as clever as I am, uh ha ha).

Next we came across some tennis courts and as for some reason we’d challenged each other to a game of tennis we needed to finally stop and do it, before time was up. My injuries and the amazing heat kept me from being the amazing player I normally am (ahem) though someone else claimed that it was also down to the superior upper body strength of one of the contenders. Well, I took on a trucker at sport and lost, but it is time I shared with my readers one of my great sources of pride on this trip. Kramer has muscles! Sorry I have no posing picture to share, but trust me, a combo of lugging things around and doing things like kayaking have given me muscles that even the sarcastic trucker admires.

Another highlight of my travels has been good fresh fruit, often procured from side of the road stalls (e.g. big fat cherries in Wanaka, yum).

But what you really want to hear about is how I came to be in the sky. Well of course I did that tandem paraglide mentioned before, flying from Coronet Peak near Queenstown. Here I am getting ready to go…

Here’s a shot from the flight with my lovely pilot from Brighton…

and here we are coming in for our landing (which followed some wonderously fun spins in the air, but unfortunately those bits didn’t get captured on the video):

I have some other videos (filmed by the trucker) that I will try to add at another time. For now, all I can say is when can I do it again?!! Ace.

I’m a swinger

So lately I’ve been taking little walks around the neighbourhood here in Tucson, and one of my routine destinations on these little meanderings is the local park. At the park they have a set of swings. And I love swinging so I often throw myself into it with gusto. Nobody in the vicinity need know that the sunglassed person sailing through the air is actually 33 years old. Shh. But who cares anyway? You have to have a pastime.

So today in the park I saw some other people out doing what they enjoy. There were two older gentlemen practicing the art of metal detecting. Oh yes, very cool. One of them had suspenders (uh, braces) holding up his pants (trousers). I sat on the swings, unobtrusively observing them as they exchanged tips on the best methodologies. You know, like at what angle you should hold your metal detecting thing for best results. Then Suspenders/Braces started talking to his device, sort of good naturedly scolding it for giving him false alarms. I smiled to myself, but in truth I often find myself not only talking to inanimate objects but having heated (one-sided) debates with them, so I shouldn’t poke fun at the guy.

There was also a man and a woman in the park with their dogs. The guy called out to one of the dogs, presumably for doing or going something or somewhere it shouldn’t. Made me think that perhaps there is a universal ‘Hey!’ used across the world for addressing one’s dog while out on a walk. I suppose the accents change but the sentiment is much the same, isn’t it. Sort of a shorthand for ‘Hey [name of dog], steer clear of those metal detectors and that woman sitting around waiting for them to move out of the way so she can take a photo of an empty swing set to adorn an entry in her oh-so-quirky travel blog…’

swing set

And just to prove that there are more exciting landscapes in these parts, and should swinging fail to excite you, behold some scenery from Tuesday’s visit to Mt Lemmon. (Those from Arizona need not be impressed. Those from elsewhere, now please politely ooh and aah. Well done, thank you!)