* * * * Waiting Amid the Clouds & Mist * * * *
Wonderfully clear day yesterday for our train journey on the Northern Explorer to Mt Tongariro in New Zealand’s North Island. Looking out the window at Chateau Tongariro we had an excellent room with a wonderful view over the treetops to Mt Ruapehu behind us. This morning it’s overcast, raining and misty but that just adds a different dimension to our adventures. Patience!
Fortunately, our tour with Walking Legends to Mt Ruapehu is not until this afternoon and the weather might clear. I soon get restless. We were originally heading off to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing today but the weather is supposed to improve tomorrow. Here in New Zealand the motto is “The weather is always fine, unless it rains!” so you learn to deal with it, especially if you’ve been up McKinnon Pass on the Milford Track.
But I’m stuck inside for now so I decide to explore the Chateau, which was opened in 1929. There’s some great old pics here. It’s a bit of a labrynth & I keep getting lost but that’s just part of it’s ‘neo-Georgian’ charm, especially for those who venture through the maze of staircases and facilities below ground. I discovered the ‘pool’ and was left speechless..briefly..Seeing is believing. Fine to cool down after a sauna and the description of small plunge pool is accurate, but it’s not for me. However, it does make a great talking point if you stay here, I say no more. You have to find out for yourself.
Meanwhile, I head back upstairs to the Lounge and sit restlessly amid the chandeliers and admire the magnificent windows framing the misty view. Mmmmm. OK, Morning Tea time for the restless. After a hearty breakfast I can’t manage a high tea so I opt for the Devonshire Tea instead. Good choice. The scones were terribly dry and indigestible so the High Tea must be unbelievable but the surroundings and the coffee were fine. While reeling from the disappointment, I needed exercise so we donned our coats and ventured up to the nearby Tongariro National Park Visitors Centre at Whakapapa village.
I forgot to mention Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro are active volcanoes. Mt Tongariro erupted in August and November, 2012. Volcano hazard information is here. For a time we were unsure about whether or not to come but were glad we did, although you never know here or elsewhere. Walking with local guides who are friendly and know the area helps to make the most of the prevailing conditions. Here’s a map and brochure with Walks in and around Tongariro National Park.
Right on time Walking Legends arrives at the Chateau and we’re off to Mt Ruapehu. First we stop at Tawhai Falls for a short walk, a fast flowing waterfall and loads of rocks.
Back in the bus and we’re off to Mt Ruapehu, at last!…………………………………………….. Now, what about that fog and mist?………………………………..
To be continued…………. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Patience!
It appears the next natural destination are the chateaus and rail journeys of Canada. The Tongariro Chateau reminded me of the Chateau at Lake Louise. Same big picture windows.