PART 3: BLOODY TONGARIRO
We finally arrive in Turangi in pitch black, after driving the Forgotten World Highway. We share an excellent dinner with Karen, whom Flo knows from his first HelpX’s host: Terry. She’s his sister. She’s welcoming us with open arms, cooks us dinner and with Flo, we bake the traditional apple tart to thank her (yummy!).
THE VOLCANO COUNTRY
After a good night sleep in a really cosy bed, we left Karen’s house and the cat with a one-track mind: hiking this bloody Tongariro Crossing!
Except that Taranaki’s shitty weather seems to be around here too. First snows have fallen, and even if the hike is doable, the conditions look really bad. And the fog, the rain are ruining the views. Not to mention that… the Ruapehu volcano is slowly awakening! It’s not that dangerous apparently, they’re even used to it around here, the last eruption was in 2012. But, I’m not feeling that confident, you know, about hiking an erupting volcano, and the weather is so bad that we finally give up. Our plan is falling apart for the second time, a few months ago we couldn’t hike it because it was winter and you had to hire a guide and special gear to go. But in our despair and disappointment, we decide to see a sign: we MUST come back to New Zealand someday (and actually that idea is more than enchanting me!)
We still go to the I-Site to have a second (professional) opinion about it and well, it’s settled, there’s not even shuttles at the moment, for the weather is too bad. The lovely Maori lady at the desk is recommending us some beautiful walks to do instead. So here we go, first to the Rotopounamu Lake, where we start to look for some Geocaches. The atmosphere here is very chilled, calm and enchanting. This lake is an ancient crater, its name means “Green Stone Lake” in the Maori language.
THE TARANAKI FALLS TRACK
Well. This one-hour-something track wasn’t enough for both of us, we decide to go to the Tongariro National Park on the Taranaki Falls track. We wander in a volcano field, it reminds me a bit of Rangitoto Island. Black and red stones. A scenery of desolation. Yup, we’re not very far for Mordor here. The Taranaki Falls are quite impressive and majestic.
I start singing while tramping back, I’m trying to remember some French songs to scream, so I can cheer up Flo a little bit. But it’s exactly like when I was sweating dishwashing in Te Anau, all of a sudden I forgot most of the French songs I used to know by heart, except for Louise Attaque and their Viens je t’emmène au vent song.
It starts to rain again. And pretty heavily this time, when we left the place. We settle in the Lazy Dog Backpacker to hide from the rain, where this lazy dog is nowhere to be seen. I end up my night on the couch watching Boy, from the director Taika Waititi, the same guy who directed the hilarious What we do in the shadows and Hunt for the wilderpeople. It’s funny and touching. My evening is pretty enjoyable.
BACK TO TAUPO LAKE
We have a 10:00 am o’clock appointment the next day in Taupo on this Friday morning. Flo’s willing to have a special memory of New Zealand, a permanently inked memory. I go with him to the Caspers Tattoo shop, he’s having an appointment with Kingi for a Maori tattoo: a Ta Moko. Ta Moko is the traditional Maori tattoo, these curved lines so meaningful for them. I watch Flo having a rough time, and help him getting relaxed by sharing with him my favorite Tumblr in the world: Graffitivre (which is a subtle mix between the words Graffiti and ivre which means being drunk – so basically it’s about completely random-out-of-sense-what-the-fuck Graffiti in France). I’m pondering about getting a tattoo as well. But, this a (magical) story that I already told you here. So, it’s kind of convenient, with Flo we can share the cling wrap and our cleaning/changing the cling wrap/smearing moisturizer breaks.
After getting my tattoo and a rough night sleep at the Taupo YHA where’s there’s a shoes’ tree in the garden, we decide to make a little detour for one night before dropping off the rental car in Auckland. We’re going back to the West, in Raglan.
RAGLAN. SO THIS IS THE END MY FRIEND?
Raglan is a surf town. Around here, the surf breaks are incredible, we even stare at the strong waves surges in Manu Bay. The waves can reach 300m here. We settle ourselves in a nice BBH Backpacker: Solscape Backpacker. This place is just amazing. The view over the Tasman Sea is incredible because it’s up the hill.
You can either sleep in a train wagon, a tipi, or a trailer. The place is self-sufficient in energy, it’s like an eco-touristic haven. Here, you can have surf lessons, yoga lessons, gardening lessons, etc. We go
get lost for a walk in the forest around the place. It’s so nice here, I wish I’d found out this place earlier so I could have spent more time here. Unfortunately, we have to return the car to Auckland tomorrow and Flo is leaving the country in a few days…
The mood is pretty tense, I can feel it. We don’t speak much. We’re lost in our thoughts. New Zealand had shaped us, had changed us, for sure. What if we couldn’t adjust anymore? What if we didn’t want to? So… Where to go next? Where are we exactly in our little lives? I can feel in our silences the heavy weight of all these questions and much more, without having any answers.
We eat up the kilometres, a lot in our minds. In Auckland, I meet up with Alessio who’s also leaving soon, for Australia. I left Flo, here, at the ferry station, he’s going for his last adventures in New Zealand. He’s leaving to meet up with his beloved HelpX hosts in Tauranga. I still have a little bit more than two weeks in the country. I leave my road trip mate reluctantly. This time, I don’t know when we’ll see each other again. But we’re going to see each other again, right?
END OF THE ROAD TRIP, END OF THIS POST, AS HE USED TO SAY.
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LET’S GO THERE! :
LAZY DOG BACKPACKER, 3 Rangipoia Pl, Tongariro, Turangi
YHA TAUPO FINLAY JACK, 20 Taniwha St, Taupo
CASPERS TATTOO, 1/57 Tongariro St, Taupo
SOLSCAPE BACKPACKER, 611 Wainui Road, Raglan