Monday, February 1, 2010

New Zealand Tramps

Okay okay, it's not what you think! A "tramp" is actually the kiwi word for a trek, or a hike...pretty funny eh? Mick and I just banged out our first "tramp" in New Zealand :) We did a 3 day/50 kilometer (30 mile) hike around the Northern Circuit on the North Island. We saw 3 volcanoes on the hike, one of which starred as Mt. Doom on Lord of the Rings! Mt. Ngauruhoe was just as spectacular as it was in the film....sans the hobbits. New Zealand has a wonderful tramping policy whereby they offer back country huts as an option to overnight hikers. Man, what an experience. The first night, the hut we arrived at after 8 1/2 hours and 22K's of trekking was full...which meant we had to spend the night on the floor sharing a single mattress while the 26 other bunks were full! Only one snorer in our room, and a few jimijias (that's for you fam!), but it was enough to keep up both awake nearly all night. We met some amazing people who were part of a "tramping club" hee hee... and scored some local knowledge about free hot springs, which we hit up last night and today.

Prior to our 3 day excursion, we have been enjoying NZ to the fullest. So far we have camped with gypsies (like a dream come true!), made friends that were staying at one of the swankiest hotels (Hilton) in Lake Taupo, found some amazing secluded camp spots next to world class fly fishing and tramped through some beautiful lush landscapes. As far as dining goes, the "green lip" NZ mussel is a local favorite (and fits our budget perfectly at less than $1 a pound) Mick's prized rainbow trout and "pipis" or clams have been on the menu.

The van is running famously and we are very much enjoying our trip thus far. Now we are in Rotorua, the tourist capital of NZ. There are tons of geothermal activities here and thrill seeker activities, but we're on a bit of a budget, so we're opting out of the expensive stuff, which is fine by me. Which reminds me, we need to get some jobs soon!

Stay tuned...