20th – From Friends to LOTR

Today was the day we were visiting a friend Ashleigh and meeting her little family, and we had a little way to go, like a couple of hours driving, so we head off about 9am. We left our spot and made our way north past Palmerston North to a town called Fielding – which had a sign at the entrance saying “NZ’S most beautiful town.” Apparently it has won the annual award 14 times, that’s impressive – fair enough to have a little sign stating it!

We arrived outside a sweet house and out came Ashleigh – I’d not seen this girl for about 5 years! We spent the next couple of hours meeting her nearly 2 year old little cherub of a son, lovely husband who I’d heard about from the very beginning, and her 2 very different dogs – a big softie Lab and a beautiful delicate little Border Collie. We were treated to a slap up brunch and it was so great to catch up after all that time.

What a great first stop on the North Island but we soon had to be on out way onto our next location – Lake Taupo, the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. On our way there Mark, a friend of my Dad’s from the photography world, had recommended a certain track that was off of the current Desert Road we were driving. It actually isn’t going through a desert but a very barren hilly huge area that only has tussocky grassy tufts coming out of a grey silver gravel/sand substance.  The road led off to a ski field up in the mountain but if you didn’t have a 4×4 vehicle you couldn’t go further than 6km. Which was fine to stop at that point and get out and walk for a bit. Apparently they filmed LOTR scenes here and you can see why – it was a cool little detour.

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Unfortunately we then got stuck behind a pretty fresh accident on the road a bit later on for a while. I think we got through a whole family size bag of crisps and some nuts in that stop. When we passed the scene there was a car barely recognisable and totally twisted and crushed at the front. With two fire engines, an ambulance and a few police cars it looked dreadful but we didn’t see anyone injured and people in another car involved were smiling… Hey ho we passed and were back on our way.

By the time the sun was setting we wanted to find our campsite for the night which was called Five Mile Bay and about 5 miles out of Taupo, on a gorgeously calm stretch of water of yep, crystal clear water! The sand was silver and the water so quietly lapping the shore – it was beautiful. This site was also a free one which we were amazed at. We relaxed that evening and booked our cave tour in Waitomo over the Internet. .. exciting – I’d never think to go inside a cave honestly but what the hell, I’ve skydived here so why not…

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