If you have have not already done so may I suggest you read part one of this road trip before continuing.
As soon as I awoke that morning I stepped outside cautiously to be greeting by the beginnings of a glorious day. The kids were woken, food was shovelled in, bags packed and the hotel was paid for. We headed south out of town with three very excited kids in the back. Within just a few kilometres we caught a glimps across Lake Taupo of what we were travelling to see. Mount Ruapehu.
We took it very easy on the road as the kids are not used to any kind of driving apart from long straight roads in Australia and Thailand and are prone to get car sick. Once we got around the lake and over a mountain range Mount Ruapehu suddenly appeared a lot closer then we expected. The views were fantastic.
By this time it was Jacobs morning sleep and so he missed out on all the excitement.
While all this was going on I was getting a little anxious about our diesel supply. The previous town back over the mountain did not have any petrol stations on the main road so instead of going looking for one I had a look at my map and saw a town about 40 kms away which was also listed on my GPS. As the red (empty) light had not come on yet I figured we would be fine. We were, until with just 500m to go (according to the GPS) I could not see any any town at all. 400, 300, 200, 100 – nothing! It was just a marked area not a town at all! By this time we had been on red for over 20kms and I was starting to worry. The next place marked on my map was called National Park. According to the GPS it had a fuel station. Surely the entrance to a National park would not have a fuel station? Well it turns out it does as in New Zealand, national park can apparently be the name of a town also! To get there we had to go 10 kms past the turn off to Mount Ruapehu but I sure didn’t mind when we rolled into town on the smell of an oily rag and filled up…. and up!
A couple of hundred kilograms heavier and we back tracked to the park. It was an easy road up to the ‘town’ where the most important thing had to be done first. Eat! There was only one place open due to the low season so not expecting much we hesitantly stepped inside the Chateau. It was amazing and full of interesting history about the place.
To be honest we were expecting overpriced small meals with snotty service only to be proved totally wrong! It ended up being the best meal we had for our entire New Zealand trip and I feel that I just have to give them a plug here. The restaurant is called Pihanga Cafe & T Bar and we were treated like royalty by a waitress named Jasmine. We had the lamb, a dozen mussels, penne carbonara and the fish of the day for only $70! We really didn’t (couldn’t) want to leave but eventually we managed to extract ourselves from the comfy chairs as the mountain was beckoning.
From the restaurant to the ski lifts took only about 10 minutes. By this time I had warned the girls that more then likely we would not touch any snow due to the ski lifts not working and the snow all being located towards the very top of the mountain. They were very cool about that as just seeing snow was exciting enough for them. We parked the car and went for a little walk around the barren landscape. We found the ski lifts so posed for a photo.
From now on whenever I mention the word snow I do understand that it really is ice so I don’t need to be reminded and either do the kids for as far as they were aware, it was white fluffy snow just like on the TV!
After the ski lift photo I noticed a small patch of snow not to far away so we set off to have a look. When we got there it was quite filthy so disappointed we were about to head back to the car to get Seerung and Jacob (he was asleep) when a kind old man approached us and said if we wanted some better stuff for the kids to have a play in then to follow him. We scrambled over some rocks and sure enough there was another larger bit that was clean. The kids were ecstatic! They jumped right in and had a ball. Unfortunately not believing we would find any I had not dressed very appropriately and was wearing thongs (flip flops) and shorts! I stood on the edge and took their photos until it was just too cold to stay any longer.
Ariya even managed to make a ‘snowball’ and let it fly.
So with that all done we set off on the long drive home back to my parents house. We decided to take a different route even though it would be longer and had a lovely drive around the west of Lake Taupo arriving back tired but happy late that evening.