Our own Secluded Place for a Night
14.05.2015 - 15.05.2015
Looking out of the window that morning, we could overlook the eastern shores of Lake Taupo. Passing through the township of Turnagi, the fishing capital of New Zealand, we headed towards Tongariro National Park. It is New Zealand's oldest National Park, one of New Zealand's three World Heritage sites and the fourth one created in the world! The Tongariro walk is famous and highly praised. The trip offers a unique opportunity to see and explore that volcanic region. Three volcanoes, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe (remember Mt. Doom?!) and Tongariro dominate the epic scenery. Big thanks goes out to Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino who gave the main part of the National Park to the people of New Zealand in 1867. And guess what, I couldn't do the awesome day hike due to the lack of my travel time. One of the multiple reason why I need to come back to Aotearoa one day!
Whakapapa Village visitor center was the closest I got the the volcanoes. The village was founded in the 1920's as an early skiing pioneers developed a base from which to pursue their love of skiing. So yeah, we were checking out the highest residential alpine village in NZ (1150 meters altitude). In the visitor center, people can learn everything about the region, volcanic activities and the Maori culture of that area.
Our destination of that day was a remote lodge situated between towering cliffs and bush-clad hills. River Valley Lodge was a beautiful located family-run hostel. Rangitikei River flows right past the front door. We were thrilled to have the whole place all for ourselves for the night. About 50 years ago, the area was a part of a family farm. Then they had the dream to share the beautiful location with other people. Inside, we were welcomed by the entire family (and it wasn't small). The big interior was dominated by a large open fireplace and a comfortable common area. The sleeping rooms however, were like a sardine can for people. Beds were arranged side by side on two levels to fit in about 30 people in the big room. For one night, it was an interesting place to sleep though.
The afternoon we spent checking out the surrounding area. Over Rangitikei River, there runs a tiny gondola-like cable car. At least that was the best explanation I could come up with. One by one, we pulled our way over the rapids. Some of us were kind of scared, since falling of the car meant falling in the probably ice-cold water. Of course we made it all over to the other side. There, we hiked up the steep hillside. We wanted to see where the path led and we ended up at the edge of a private hunting ground! Yep, we turned around by then.
That night, we got served the most delicious meal most of us had for a long time - the Thanksgiving-like feast filled us all up plentiful. With a full belly, we spent long hours in the common area. Having drinks, playing all kinds of games, telling each other stories until one after another went upstairs to the sardine can bed room. River Valley Lodge truly brought the whole group together.