The last day of January 2020 saw us finding our way to Tongariro National Park. We looked for the trailhead to Taranaki Falls, an approximately 3.2 KM walk to the falls, and then 3.0 KM back to the car park (aka “parking lot” in the US). Walking along it was like walking in the high desert with scrub brush and stunted trees. Clambering over some rocks we descended at the junction of two trails where we were greeted by a beautiful flowing waterfall. The pool at the base of the falls was a swimmer’s delight and we saw a guy strip down to his undies and jump in. We, being not as bold, decided to keep our clothes on and just enjoy the view (of the pool not, the semi dressed guy.) Kathy did boldly navigate the rocks to get behind the falls. From there, she could reach out and feel the rush of the water as it came tumbling from the precipice above her head. The trail back was completely different than the higher trail. Instead of high desert, it was a lush forest where you walked under the cool shade of the trees.
Back at the car park, we decided we had better find gas before we had to stick out our thumbs and hitch a ride. That accomplished, we journeyed on to our next destination: Tawhai Falls, which was another waterfall located on the road back to “home.” The falls, while smaller, were also a swimmer’s delight. We watched a man jump from the top of the rock into the pool below. A girl asked the man where the best place was to jump, and much to everyone’s surprise, jumped in fully clothed. The man who had been climbing out of the pool looked astonished at Dave implying “why did you push her in”!! Later, Dave had a conversation with the guy, who was from France, and confirmed with him that she had jumped on her own and was not pushed.
The first day of February saw us finding our way to trails located around our neighborhood. Along the way Dave found a new “friend”, a pig who happily played with him. The pig tried to nip him a couple of time, but Dave was too quick to be his meal for the day. Dave did wonder if, on really hot days, a pet piglet would smell like bacon in the air??? We walked down to the local Waitaki Reserve located next to the neighborhood, climbed the hill to the lookout, and soaked in the amazing views of both Lake Taupo and Lake Rotuopo. Walking back, we took a different route, but still managed to end up close to home. Our next task was to find the church for mass tonight. Having accomplished that in short work, we decided we needed to take one more leisurely walk before heading home for lunch. Walking along the local river we saw anglers, locals swimming in the river, and some lost Canada Geese. Then the heat set in and we retreated into the house, turned the air conditioner on, and lamented about global warming.
Mass was completed, except for the readings, in the local Maori language. Dave was able to follow along, but Kathy was at a loss on each stage of the mass. Not even a missalette saved Kathy from her look of bewilderment. She gamely tried to follow along with the prayers and songs. (They were displayed on a screen on the wall) The Maori words, with all those vowels, really tied her tongue!! Thankfully, the New Zealand people are kind and gracious and we were warmly welcomed into the community. Time to relax again before we plan tomorrow’s agenda!!