Thursday, November 9, 2017

November 09, 2017 - Driving to Whanganui

Today was mostly a travelling day.  We started out by heading 15 minutes in the wrong direction to go drive though the geothermal power-plant just outside of town (Taupo).  It had a lot of favorable reviews on TripAdvisor.  There are miles and miles of pipes here.  Steam shoots out of towers and valves at random intervals.  They have an observation view point above the facility so we drove up there.  It offered a great view of the plant.  It's a big place.

Lots of steam from these two towers.

These tunnels made of huge pipe are actually there to allow for the long length
of pipe to expand.  They are basically expansion joints. 

Panorama from the viewpoint.  This place is large.

Steam rises high into the air.

Then, we went back to Huka Falls, because it was right on the side of the road on the way back to town.  Yesterday, we arrived about 15 minutes before they closed the gate, so we were a bit rushed.  Today we walked down a trail on the other side of the river and got a nice perspective from the other side.  The falls at the very bottom are bigger than I thought, especially when compared to the perspective of standing directly on top of it (from the other side last night).  We also stopped at the world's coolest McDonald's to check out that plane.  When Cindy insisted, we took a short break at a children's playground in town.  Cindy always points out that each and every playground in New Zealand is extremely nice.

Huka Falls from the other side.

There is a lot of water flowing here.

You can eat your meal in the plane!

Looks pretty small, by today's standards.
Cindy would have climbed higher but she spotted a spider
web.  End of climb.

Next, we left town and headed into the mountains.  We took a detour and drove up to the ski mountain and hiked around there for about an hour.  It was interesting.  They have VERY nice chairlifts, snow cats, and a fantastic learner's hill with covered "magic carpets".  I've never seen a covered one before.  This place is extremely rocky and it must take a lot of snow to cover all of the rocks before it can be used as a ski hill.  We hiked up the mountain under the lift and found a bunch of items people had dropped from their chair last season.  Some gloves, trash, and even a pair of ski poles.

Just coming up to the ski mountain.  There were many private ski lodges here.
At the base of the lift.  There were guys there doing chairlift maintenance.

Nice, new looking snow cats.
Cindy with her new found ski poles, standing under a snow
making machine.  They had these all over the mountain.

Cindy slips on a small patch of snow.

The covered "magic carpet" for beginners.

Looking inside the magic carpet ride.  The center section Cindy is standing on
is a conveyor belt that you stand on (while wearing skies).  It makes it easy
for beginners to get up the mountain.  Less intimidating than a chair and a lot
easier than the rope tows I learned on.

This was in the visitor's center, at the base of the mountain. 
A kiwi is larger than I thought.
Tonight we are staying in an AirBnB near Whanganui.  This is our first experience with AirBnB, and so far we are IMPRESSED!  We are staying in a converted garage.  It has two beds, a kitchen, and a nice bathroom.  It is GREAT!  All this for about 1/3 of the price of a crummy hotel.  Cindy perfectly captured the amazingness of this garage by saying that it's so nice that she would live in here permanently.

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