Mordor and the Journey North

Mordor and the Journey North

After two awesome weeks exploring New Zealand with Morgan in the campervan, we said our goodbyes to Sister Bear and Amanda and I continued our journey back to Auckland. We had arranged a relocation rental with Jucy, which meant that in exchange for bringing one of their cars from Christchurch to Auckland, our wheels for the journey were free, including a tank of gas and ferry crossing. The one thing we really wanted to do in NZ was the Tongariro Crossing, which we had previously aborted due to bad weather. Having the car would give us another stab at it on our way north.

Before heading out, we had some time in Christchurch to do laundry, gear up (Amanda desperately needed a new rain jacket), explore the city, and meet up with Amanda’s friends. Jared and his wife Amanda have an adorable daughter, Phoebe, who we met up with for fish and chips on the beach.

Group photo with old friends

Christchurch was hit pretty bad by earthquakes back in 2010 and 2011, so staying downtown we got to see some of the damage first hand, and check out their efforts to get things going again.

Restart container shopping area
Headed across town
Rose garden
We heart trees

After a long drive up to Picton, we caught the Interislander ferry (deja vu anyone?) and arrived in Wellington, where we met up with Amanda’s friend Haid at a funky breakfast spot, Fidel’s, aptly on Cuba Street. We also made it to the gorgeous Roxy Theater to see Lion, part of our monthly movie-going ritual to recharge and feel like normal humans. Amazing movie aside (go see Lion if you haven’t yet!), we’re so glad we went to Roxy, which these shots make clear. It also happened to be Tuppence Tuesday, which was a happy accident.

Loving the Roxy vibes
Don’t mess with this wizard
All art deco inside

We really loved Wellington, and agreed we could see ourselves living there if the situation arose. After our quick overnight there, we drove up to the small town of National Park (another aptly named spot), which is close to where our shuttle would be picking us up in the wee hours of the morning for Tongariro. We resupplied in town so we had plenty of food and water for the crossing, including ingredients for our new hiking staple, Morgan’s spicy peanut noodles.

Our only kiwi sighting

Tongariro Alpine Crossing¬†is a 19.4 km hike that passes over the active volcano, Mount Tongariro, also called Mordor because of its appearance in LOTR films. It takes 6 to 7 hours, and does some serious climbing along the way. Our expectations were set for a very hard hike, which meant we were pleasantly surprised when we both felt like it wasn’t too hard at all. This may have been due to the great weather we had, and having built up those leg muscles over our trip. It took us about 7 hours, with a few short breaks along the way.

Looking fresh early in the morning with 6hr 20min to go
Boardwalk appreciation
View of Mount Ngauruhoe along the trail
Serious business
Stairway to heaven?
Beam me up Scotty – the other-worldly moonscape near the summit
In a cloud
Sriracha peanut noodles hit the spot at the summit
Alpine lake selfie
Don’t drink the water
Life finds a way
Happy bushes on our way home
Pretty flowers near the finish line

After successfully conquering Mordor, we rewarded ourselves with a night at Lake Taupo, where we soaked in the hotel’s hot tub and drank some local beer. The next day we were on our way to Auckland airport to fly to Sydney after 3 incredible weeks in New Zealand. More on our time in Sydney next time.

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