Monday, May 24, 2010

Snow! [1400km final]

At last, I'm going to finish writing about our trip, and it hasn't even been a year since it happened!

Last time, we were just about to leave Wellington, on a freezing, windy Tuesday morning. We could have just driven straight home along State Highway One (i.e. the way we came), which would have got us back home easily within the day.

However, we're more adventurous stupid than that, so we decided to drive through Upper and Lower The Hutt, over the Rimutakas and through the Wairarapa instead.

Mostly we did this because I've never really been over there before, and I wanted to give it a look.

I should also point out that large parts of the central North Island (which we'd need to drive through to get home), including the Desert Road, had been closed due to unprecedented and slightly unseasonal snowfalls. So, there was even the possibility of getting stranded somewhere. Exciting!

The Rimutakas surprised me with their unexpected size (seemed a lot bigger than the Kaimais) and unrelenting expanses of gorse (or was it broom? Yellow flowers anyway).

Featherston's the first town once you get over the hill. It's nice enough, but seems a bit like Wellington's version of Tirau - I wanted to see the real Wairarapa.

Greytown and Carterton were getting closer to what I wanted to see, but it wasn't until we got to Masterton that I found what I was looking for. It was great, reminded me of the good bits of Tokoroa, although it's a hell of a lot bigger. It's the sort of place I reckon I could live in, for a while anyway.

After some local delicacies McDonalds, we continued on. Somewhere along the road, we suddenly noticed the looming Tararuas in the distance - and they had SNOW on them! We had to take a photo, there was no way we'd see that much snow again on the way home:

(if you click on the photo to make it big, you might just be able to make out the mountains, sandwiched between the hills and the clouds)

Next stop, Eketahuna, where we continued the "photos with oversized roadside objects" theme:



This last one was immediately prior to a major meltdown about something I can't remember, probably the only tantrum of the whole trip, and it was all over in about three minutes:


Eketahuna's another one of those little places I love - a town that seems truly represenative of its region, unpretentious in the extreme.

Pahiatua's another one of those, but it has the benefit of a massive and incredible playground:


Betty is sideways as usual; hopefully this is some indication of how she will drive a car:


They even have what appears to be a real plane:


Plane nerds, please let me know what it is - this emblem on the side may assist with identification:


I'm not sure that any of those photos convey just how bitterly cold it was. Ah, here's one that does:


We travelled on.

These pictures are from a place called Stormy Point Lookout. You've no idea how hard it was to figure out where the hell I took them - GPS may be a requirement on the next camera.


It lived up to its name, anyway, by being unfeasibly windy, but also providing a fairly spectacular view:



Again, I'll let Rach demonstrate just how cold and windy it was:


We joined up with State Highway One again at the humorously-named Vinegar Hill. (if you follow that link, you'll find out why it's called that, as well as why camp really means Camp there)

We got very very excited when we started to see snow at the side of the road, so took lots and lots of pictures, assuming it would be all we'd see. After all, we'd just traveled south on the same road a few days earlier, and there wasn't really anything then.

Here's a few of the sort of pictures I'm talking about:




However, when we rounded this corner:


BOOOOOOM, Winter Wonderland:



Probably not so impressive if you're used to living somewhere that gets snow all the time. And yes, this area does generally have a snowfall or two every year BUT not in October, and not this amount.

I kinda wish I'd stopped, climbed up a hill with my skis (THEY WERE IN THE CAR) and had an impromptu ski. Something like this would've been brilliant:


Still, we made up for not doing this by stopping in Waiouru and going mental in the fresh snow, as only non-snow-dwellers can:





It was hard to get back in the car and keep going, but we thought we'd better. The Desert Road through to Turangi was still closed, so we detoured through Ohakune. By this time we were getting hungry again, so rather than going the quick, sensible way, we went back across to Taupo to get food.

Luckily, this meant we were able to get one last roadside statue photo in; the Turangi Trout:


Despite going the long way round more than once, we had a really really good trip, and it hasn't even put me off driving long distances with small children. As a side benefit, I now know the High School Musical 3 soundtrack off by heart.

Since we had a whole day to spare before going back to drudgery, the girls did this:


Comments please about what they are making (and anything else you want to say).


neop26 said...

Awesome pics mate... and no it was not a stupid Idea lol!

afraid said...

At least Betty's glee appears constant in photographs.

Good on yer for driving traffic to those town websites. They'll be analysing their analytics thinking, 'Why is a slag linking to us?'

They're making mudpies, something I don't ever remember having much interest in.

WebAsh said...

Pahah... Vinegar Hill. RANDOM.

But nice pics. :)

notHamilton said...

did you see the viaduct by Vinegar Hill?

tonyH said...

It's a Harvard trainer - mainstay of RNZAF Rukuhia in the fifties - lazy radial growl, slow deep buzzing prop, endless loops and the occasional stall over Morrinsville in the summer haze... Also, memories of Big 15 conquering Fords & Holdens on snowbound Taihape hill... Stormy Point: definitely one of the great lookouts, if only for its insouciant roadside accessibility... (end of nostalge wallow). But a move fron Whanimalton to Masturton?? are there any jobs there?

mattyboy said...

Musta been fun playing in the snow with kids who haven't seen it before, like being a kid again eh. Let's make a snowman!