Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Zealand, Part III

The last leg of our New Zealand trip was pretty jam-packed. After skydiving, we headed to a small town called Turangi, which is just North of Mordor. We stayed at a nice hostel with a very animated owner (does a spot-on impersonation of Gollum and can act out just about any scene from the LotR movies), and we prepped for the next day's hike up Mount Doom, aka Mt. Tongariro. Years ago, Aaron bought a replica of the One Ring (it's also his "backup wedding ring"), and we planned to take it to the top of the volcano to be destroyed, of course. But when we actually got up to the start of the trail the next morning, the weather conditions were pretty treacherous. It was very cold, rainy, and foggy/cloudy. We didn't get that great view from the mountain that we were hoping for. We actually attempted the climb on two different days, but the furthest we got was only 2 hours up (only about 1/3 of the way there) before we decided to come down because of the unbearable weather.

We didn't get any great pictures from/of the volcano, but we did stop at a neat waterfall that was used in a scene from the movies:

Our next stop was Masterton, which is a small town on the Southeast corner of the North Island. Masterton probably does not make it on to many tourists' itineraries, however it is the site of the world's most prestigious sheep shearing competition: the Golden Shears. It was a fascinating event. There were several competition categories including wool handling, wool packing, and, of course, shearing.

The last few days of our trip, we did typical tourist activities: visited museums, beaches, etc. We also stopped at the Waitomo Caves, which are a huge underground limestone cave system and home to millions of little glowworms. And on our last night in NZ, we went to a rugby game, which was pretty fun.

We had an amazing time. I had many experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life, and I'm so glad we did this.

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