Sunday, October 11, 2009

1400km part 1

[click photos for big, or visit flickr for too many photos]

The original reason for going to Wellington was to see the F1 exhibition at Te Papa. We flew down last time, but this was when Rach was working in Wellington, as well as Bethan being under two, so able to fly for free. Two extra airfares meant that it was going to be cheaper to drive down.

This also coincided with me getting a week of long-service leave. Yes, I've been there 10 years, yes it might be time for a change, yes I'm doing something about it.

Never mind all that though, I had to use this leave all in one go, so we decided to do a road trip to Wellington in the school holidays. It was also long overdue that we visit all Rach's family in Palmerston North, and while we were at it, why not go to Ohakune on the way down and have a bit of a ski?

So, Thursday 1st October, we left (relatively) early. Surprisingly, we had such a small amount of crap packed, I was able to see completely out the rear window of the Volvo.

Memory's fading as it was well over a week ago now, but I'm pretty sure Te Kuiti was our first stop, for a coffee and some kid snacks. Then it was onto a favourite town of mine, Taumarunui. My liking of this place was reinforced by the free wifi outside the Taumarunui Public Library.

We stopped next at Raurimu, home of the famous Raurimu Spiral. We'd looked for this in the past, but never managed to find any of it. This time, though, we found a path directing us to the lookout. There's a sign in case you forget where you are:


There's still very little of the spiral itself visible (perhaps it's better with a train on it?), but they provide a handy model on a big tall pole as high as the lookout:


What's that? The spiral's not exciting enough for you? OK then, here's a picture of us in the Raurimu bus shelter:


After our leisurely drive down, we went straight up to the Turoa skifield. It was late in the day, and quite miserable, so we just had a quick look, checked if the hire place had boots to fit Bethan (they did), then drove back down to our palatial accommodations at the Mountain-View Motel:


Doesn't look that flash you reckon? Check out how they fold the towels!


We very quickly made ourselves at home (i.e. strewed our crap everywhere):


then headed out to eat, at a restaurant, much to my surprise. We went to a place called The Bearing Point (not Breaking Point as I first read it). It had pub prices, combined with (for us at least) an upmarket menu, and crucially, a kids menu too. It was great, and I'd put a link in if they had any discernible internet presence whatsoever.

Quite swanky inside too, which you can only just see in this photo of us before we got kicked out:


No, we didn't get kicked out! The kids were models of good behaviour. The same can't be said about me - I went for an entree and a main, which turned out to be too much. So much too much that not only could I not face dessert, but I couldn't even go for the ice cream at the dairy that the rest of the family opted for.

We'd booked a time in the motel's spa, which the guy had apologised about for being old and not having bubbles. No bubbles? Dude, it's a freakin' spa, we don't care! It was hot and had jets, and was perfect on a cold Ohakune night.

Next morning it was skiing time! Picked up some rentals for Rach from Station Lodge Rentals, and got me some cheap ex-rental poles while we were at it too.

Up the picturesque Ohakune Mountain Road

View Larger Map

to Turoa. A smashing bloke let me drop the girls off, then park miles and miles closer than everyone else - thanks very much indeed! I joined them at Turoa rentals, picking up skis for Ella, and hilariously cute little miniature ones for Betty:


Ella had a go at skiing last year, so she got straight onto the skis and seemed to remember everything she'd learned last time. We'd booked her a lesson at midday, so she did a solid couple of hours.

Meanwhile, I skied down holding onto Betty, which she enjoyed as long as she was moving:


As you can see, the cloud kept coming in, but it didn't stop us.

Ella ended up having a one-on-one lesson (the teacher didn't believe she was six at first) - next year I'm determined to take her up a bit higher. Rach too - she loves skiing now. How lucky of us to have found a nice cheap family sport.

I had a single run from the top, but by the time I got there the cloud had completely closed in so it was a bit of an invisible ride down to meet the girls in the bottom cafe.

As it had started properly raining now, we decided to leave. Before we left Ohakune, we did the traditional fond farewell activity of taking stupid photos of ourselves with the giant carrot:




Of course, Bethan is actually licking the carrot in the above photo.

Next instalment, Palmerston North!