I’ve been eyeing the mountain since we arrived, as it is the backdrop to the hospital every time I drive up to work. So today Liz and I arranged a babysitter for the afternoon and hiked to the summit.
The trail starts at a sheep and dairy farm and the entire trail is on private land. The owners allow hikers on the property, just asking that they close the gates so the sheep don’t get out and pick up their own rubbish. Must be working, because the sheep seemed pretty well corralled and there isn’t really any rubbish to be seen.
We followed the fence posts up a grassy hill with sheep roaming around us. I was hoping to get close enough to consider the possibility of riding one, but they are a bit skittish. As we continued, we hopped a few fences and were soon in a lush tropical forest. The change of vegetation is amazing. It’s hard to believe you’re still on the same hill. The ascent was steep and we were humbled by the site of considerably older Kiwi’s passing us, looking like they were just going for a walk in the park.
When we reached the summit, the views were fantastic. We could see White Island, an active volcano that lies off the coast to the northeast. To the southwest we looked over Lake Taupo to Mt. Tongariro. We also had the opportunity to witness a young man strip naked to stand on a (fortunately) remote rocky peak. We gave him time to finish his little display, then snapped some photos and had a snack. The walk up took just under two hours. The walk down was much quicker and much easier.
We still can’t get believe that we have the privilege to live in a place that has such amazing landscapes right out our door.