Curse you google maps!!
This past week I had a few days off and with the kids on break we figured we would get out of town for a couple of days and check out the Kiwi skifields. We planned a trip to Ruapehu which we heard from the locals was no more than 3 hours drive. Of course, me being the human GPS that I think I am, it never occurred to me to actually ask someone the best way to get there. Enter Google maps. I entered in our departure and destination points and out spat googles recommended route, highway 43 which we later learned has become known as the World's Forgotten Highway. Google insisted it would take 3 hours and it looked to be the straightest route as the crow flies to me. So off we went and roughly 5 hours later over the curviest, hilliest, 160 km of road anywhere on the planet we arrived, all of us a slight shade of green. Honest to god we saw about 5 other cars the entire length of the highway (about a million sheep though).
|The only sign of life on the forgotten highway|
My family did not buy my explanation that this was a good family bonding experience.
|Excellent view from Tahora saddle including the Ellington family truckster|
the 2002 Mitsubishi Dion
This is a highway!
|Mount Ruapehu at 9,176 ft|
the tallest mountain on the north island
In the end we did make it to our destination. We spent 2 nights at a great little ski lodge called Piper's in the town of National Park at the base of Mt Ruapehu. Great little place with a big living room and fire place. They fed us a delicious breakfast and dinner each day.
|3 Goofball Americans|
|Skiing an active volcano|
|At the top of one of the T-Bars|
|Mount Ngauruhoe in the background|
Mount Ruapehu is situated in the center of the north island in an area where there is more volcanic activity than anywhere else on the planet. Ruapehu last erupted in 1994 and I believe that it served as the backdrop of mount doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. The skiing was not great, very icy and windblown, but the views and scenery were fantastic and we had a blast. The sun was shining, we were skiing in July, and the kids had fun.
|Stop in Mokau for the worlds famous Whitebait fritters|
The next day we woke up and decided that one trip on the forgotten highway was enough. We took route 4 which heads straight north (we ultimately are headed due west) until we came to route 3 which heads southwest to New Plymouth. This too was a beautiful route as it takes us for several miles down the coast. We were told to stop for the whitebait fritters in Mokau. Now whitebait are little translucent eels that they catch in the rivers during certain seasons. They are quite a delicacy and go for around $100 per kg. Ours were served like an omelet, not bad but next time I'll get the fish and chips like Lindsey did.
|Whitebait fritter, note all the little eyes looking at you|
|Fish and chips, delicious|
|Walking to the mouth of the river|
|2 of the three sisters in the background|
|"boom, boom, fire power"|