Tourist Route

NZ | Pauanui – Waihi – Te Aroha – Rotorua – Taupo | 08th Dec '14 - 12th Dec '14 | 1248km

Headed South, crossing the Coromandel range for the third and final time, we gratefully coasted our way through a couple of distinctly flatter days. Warmer, dryer and with some fitness building, we made satisfying progress, diving onto the Hikurangi rail trail through the Karangahake Gorge and out into farmland.

Clouds gathered as we picked up signs for Rotorua, a city famous for smelling terrible, in the North Island's thermal region. As the rain caught up, it was hard to distinguish between steaming valleys and low lying cloud. During the damp and touristy trudge down to Lake Taupo, surrounded by active volcanoes, we strained to catch a glimpse of Tongarariro or Ngauruhoe, Peter Jackson's snow capped inspiration for Mount Doom, but couldn’t see further than the edge of the Lake. Cue a day off the bikes and some drying out in Storehouse coffee shop.

In Maori legend, all the mountains surrounding Taupo were Gods. All were male except for one, Pihanga, and the other mountains were deeply in love with her. A mighty battle for the right to win Pihanga ensued. The warrior mountains fought fiercely with violent eruptions, fire and lava burning the sky for days. The earth trembled and quaked, forming the ridges and gorges that cover the land today.

Ultimately, the mighty Mt Tongariro was the victor, winning Pihanga’s devotion and the right to stand next to her. The defeated mountains were given the night to move away, where the dawn of the new day, they would be eternally fixed to the place where they rested.

No idea when Lord Sauron moved in.