Walkabout: Travel Life and Photographs

To Taupo From Rotorua

Red Woods – This was a descent hike with the highlight being able to view the Whakawhara thermal park from above. It also takes you through a large forest of California Redwood Trees, which were introduced nearly a hundred years ago, but don’t grow to their enormous size as they do back in the States. I was also
able to see NZ’s timber mills hard at work as they cleared mountain sides and feverously replanted trees back again into nice neat rows so they can come back and do it all over again.

Wallaby Spotting – I came to know a local couple staying where I was until they got their own place named Simon and Ralene. They were curious of all the different animals from back home and took a liking to squirrels, bears, and chipmunks. Plus they told me of all theirs here. They mentioned a wallaby and I thought they were joking and were only made up animals that only existed in children’s books. I was wrong as they took me out one night to spot them. Wallabies are nocturnal animals and come out into grassy fields to feed at night. So we went to a small airstrip on the outside of town with a high power ‘torch’ in hand. We went in on foot stopping periodically to spot the area around us. But nothing was found…..we continued on…..with the same result…but then wait! It was a wallaby!….No, no it was only a couple of possums. With a full moon in front of us, large clouds hanging still in the sky, and only the brightest stars shining through we moved closer to the edge of the field…..Spotted again…and Yes! Ha Ha! A real wallaby! We thought it was another possum at first but as soon as it started hopping away like a little, tiny kangaroo we knew it wasn’t. Simon and I darted after it getting nowhere except scaring it off into the bush lining the outskirts. Spotlighted again and saw another and several more hiding in trees and bushes. We didn’t chase this one, just watched it hop along and
eventually go out of site. Simon then took us to one other spot. It was a little dirt road leading down to a nearby lake. Nothing was seen…..until we reached the end of the trail. It was a lone wallaby. I ran after this one hoping to get a single photo of it, but the little buggers are much quicker than they appear as it easily escaped away. We returned back to the motor lodge chasing possums along the way in the car. They really spazz out when you honk at them. You’d think they’d be smart and quickly hide in the nearby shrubs, but no…..No, no, no……They jump into the middle of the road jumping and skipping from side to side in the most peculiar manner for a good 20-30 yards before taking to safety. It was a fun night and I returned back to my tent having seen my first wallaby.

Before hand Simon also took me to his Dad’s house to get the torch, but to show me all the pigs they had hunted in the past. Apparently, his Dad has gone out nearly every weekend since he was 15 to catch them. There were photo albums stock full of all their catches with the date and poundage of each pig. Simon seemed to be able to recall a storey for nearly every photo. He then took me into the garage where the ceiling was lined with the jaws of all the pigs they caught. It was kind of creepy at first and reminded me of the movie Predator.

Rainbow Mountain – Was a relentless uphill battle up until the very end. The trail keeps you mesmerized though as it shifts in a mixture of colors varying from reds, whites, browns, yellows, and blacks and takes you by numerous steam updrafts and two emerald crater lakes. It left me winded and quite sweaty after reaching the summit, but the view more than made up for it. Next time though, I might drive up the service road on the backside of the mountain.

I left Rotorua yesterday in hopes of hiking the Tangariro Crossing while the weather was holding. But as soon as I arrived here the weather went south as did my health. Hopefully it will all clear up by this weekend as well as my cold so I can make the trek across NZ’s acclaimed “best day walk.”