Day Seven: Rain and Snow

Today we got up early for another large drive ahead. I had a cold breakfast today of muesli and fruit as I'm getting a bit over the standard hotel breakfasts. Two members of the family have fallen ill so we had to stop by a pharmacy but none of them opened before 9am so we had to wait. Whilst we were at the pharmacy, we noticed that the front left tyre was bald. Jip's dad contacted the rental company and they suggested going to the Rotorua airport to get a new tyre. We drove the 10km to the airport and were informed (by the most amazing rental manager ever!) that we will need to go to Bridgestone to get the new tyre as they can't directly swap the van as Rotorua doesn't offer that service! Next stop: Bridgestone and we scored two new front tyres and a wheel alignment!

We started heading south and stopped into the mud clay pools to show Guus and Wytske what they missed out on from yesterday. We stopped at Huka Falls just north of Taupo. It is part of Waikato River (longest river in NZ) and it supplies nine hydro electric power stations which powers 15% of NZ total electricity. Everyday they measure how much water is actually going over the fall's and today there was 180 cubic metres of water per second.

We reached Taupo and stopped for lunch. It was also when the heavens opened up and it was pouring! We ran into a cafe and had a beautiful lunch. I had the spanikopita with salad. Back in the van, we drove alongside Lake Taupo but we couldn't see anything due to the constant rain. We arrived at a town called National Park and went off the beaten track up towards Mt Tongariro. We got out and did a walk towards Tawhai Falls and again, it was pouring with rain. We all got very wet but managed to stay warm.

We went to drive further up the mountain and before we knew it, we had reached Whakapapa at an elevation of 1700 metres and a wind temperature of minus 6. We had a mini snow ball fight and got back into the van.

We drove the last 2.5 hours at dusk with saturated clothing and shoes and socks. As soon as we made it to Palmerston North and our rooms, we stripped off everything and hung it out near the heater. We went back downstairs and had a drink before Guus, Wytske, Jip and I went to a Thai restaurant for dinner. It was scrumptious and exactly what we needed after so much hotel food!