Friday, 21 March 2014

Upper and Lower Tama Lakes and Tanaraki Falls (21.3.2014)

In the knowledge that today will probably be the toughest hiking day of our trip, we got up at 6:00 am to go on a bus at 7:00 am and get to the start point. 7-9 hours of hiking awaited us on the Alpine Crossing. Then when we got on the bus, the bus driver (a hiker himself with a 20-year experience in walking these hills) gave us the first downer. The weather forecast quietly changed yesterday from sunny to gale winds (65 km/h and more). They only run the service at the moment, because it is not quite certain yet if it will stay and he wanted to see it for himself at the site.

We were adamant, we would go no matter what, but then we actually saw the mountain. It was covered in a thick cloud and visibility was probably no more than 10 meters if that. The driver then confirmed that there will be gale winds. During my school time in Scotland, I used to go running in the Highlands and I once got caught up in such mist and I know how easy it is to get lost even in terrain that you know very well (I actually got lost once). That together with the strong advice by the bus driver not to go as it would be no fun. Half the reason to go up there is to see the scenery, right? So grudgingly we decided to turn back and try our luck tomorrow before we make our way to Hamilton for our next stop.

On our way back we started chatting with an older couple from Freiburg who were there with their 18-year old son to do the hike. We decided to go on a shorter walk (about 5 hours) to the near Tama Lakes and past the Taranaki Falls on the way back. Walking with them was a nice change to walking on our own. Chatting about something different and getting to know new people was cool.

On the way, we were fascinated to see how similar the swamp lands we passed are to some parts of the High Venn in the German speaking part of Belgium. We couldn't compare plant species obviously, but the general atmosphere was eerily similar. Once we got nearer the Lakes (there is Lower and Upper Tama Lake), the area became more barren and rocky, which was also the moment the wind really picked up. That was when we knew that we made the right decision. Isi was hardly able to walk up (or down) the hill. Unbelievable! At times, we essentially leaned into the wind just to walk in a straight line. In the end, as any person who likes hill-walking knows, reaching the top was worth it all. The view was beautiful and satisfying.

We did not stay long though, as we were very exposed to the strong winds and it was noon by then, so we looked for shelter from the wind to have a small lunch. On the way down, we also passed by Tanaraki Falls. This was a bit weird, as you go down a slope and suddenly you are in woodlands. The waterfall, like most waterfalls, I'd imagine, is a lovely sight to behold. I found it hard to tear my eyes away from the spectacle.

Afterwards, we made our way back to the hotel and doing bits and bobs while relaxing for the big day tomorrow. Let's hope the weather will be better tomorrow. Forecast suggests it, but it changed its mind shortly beforehand, as well ;)

Next stop after this will be Hamilton, our last stop before Auckland, where we will stay for 6 nights as it gives us the most flexibility to react to different kinds of weather. It is supposed to rain in most parts, but it has been clearing up again lately...

This is what we were supposed to walk through from afar. As you can see, not much to see ;)

The landscape here is strange. The white patches you see are some type of moss...

I am actually leaning into the wind, it was that strong.

The beautiful panorama of the Lower Tama Lake

Tongariru National Park at its best

360° Panorama of the peak together with our travel companions for the day. To the left is Lower Tama Lake and to the right is Upper Tama Lake.

Isi proud to have conquered the mountain

Over the day, the cloud cover slowly broke.

 Tanaraki Falls. On top is the rocky/swampy landscape of the previous pics and to the right starts a normal temperate forest.


  1. truly amazing!!! 7hr of hiking, OMG will u be able to get up next day?:)

    1. Hey Natalia! That day was "only" 5 hours ;). We did the 7 hour hike today. It was... let's just say tiring and yes we will sleep long today ;)

      Let us know how you're getting on in Philly!!