Graduation, Tongariro Crossing, and a Wedding Expo

THellooooo!!!

I have had the craziest busiest week! Not only was it the first week back at school, but every single day I had something on so buckle in tight cause you’re in for the long haul.

Monday
Monday was the calm before the storm. It was the first day back at school and boy was I tired by the time I got home that afternoon! To be honest, Monday is all a bit of a blur. Hahaha let’s skip Monday and get to the interesting parts, shall we?

Tuesday
a.k.a. pre-graduation day. After finishing work I had to rush down to the Academic Dress Hire place to pick up my gown, hood, and trencher for my graduation! My parents drove up from Paraparaumu and Paul’s mother came over from Ohope. We went out for dinner to the Cock and Bull, a nice English-style pub located in Te Rapa. I made a mistake ordering an entree. I got pumpkin soup which came with garlic bread. It was delicious. It was filling. I really could have gotten away with not ordering a main but alas it was too late – I had already ordered and it would’ve been rude not to eat my Moroccan Lamb Salad :p.
Then we all made our way back to my whare to indulge ourselves in the delicious carrot cake with cream cheese icing that Paul’s mother had made for me. I don’t know what it is about desserts but you always seem to be able to squeeze them in even on a full stomach. The Japanese have an actual term for it called ‘betsubara’. Long story short, betsubara literally means separate stomach. Clever Japanese – they got it figured out.

Wednesday
GRADUATION DAY! I had the day off work so I could spend the day with my parents. Well, I ended up spending half of the day with them because I had booked in to get my hair done and it ended up taking 3 hours (and costing a fortune :/)! I met up with my parents and two of my aunts for lunch at Cafe Fresca before heading off to the uni so mother could take heaps of photos of me in my graduation garb before the main event which kicked off at 6pm. It was so nice to see people from uni that I hadn’t seen since last year and it was such a proud moment walking across that stage to collect my degree. #graduatediplomaofteaching

Thursday
Luckily, Thursday was quite a chill day. I was back at school teaching so was still busy but had the evening to myself after Paul and I went to the gym… and Kmart 😉 can’t get enough of that place… no but seriously I needed to get a warm long sleeved top for our Saturday excursion… or so I told myself.

Friday
More like Fri-YAY! Finished up a lovely short week at school and then it was off to Zumba… which I turned up to late because I got the times wrong bahahaha!! But I snuck in at halftime and nailed the second half! Just as we were leaving the gym I got a message saying my new engagement ring was back from being resized and was ready for collection. I was super excited that I made Paul rush me to the store so I could pick it up. It is perfect. If you don’t know the drama I had with Michael Hill and my initial engagement ring then let me quickly recap it by saying 2 missing diamonds within 6 weeks and pretty crap customer service forced us to go elsewhere and never go there again 🙂 if you want the full story then I can do another blog post about it (or if i know you personally just message me) but just let me know. Anyway, then it was off to dinner at our new friends house. They had cooked us a lovely slow-cooked chicken with some roast veggies and we provided the potato salad (thanks to Dannie for the recipe tips!). Dinner was amazeballs and so was dessert. We also played this game called #whatdoyoumeme? which was such a fun game but is definitely for the millennials in your life who spend too much time on the internet and Facebook. Then it was home to get a decent nights sleep!!

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Saturday
We were up bright and early at precisely 4:43am to get up and ready for the Tongariro Crossing! We left at 5am and took two cars down. Paul and I drove through Taumarunui to pick up Justin and met Connor and Nic at the Ketetahi Carpark. We left our car there and all piled into Nic’s car to drive round to the Mangatepopo Carpark where the walk begins. We couldn’t have asked for better weather – when we started there wasn’t a cloud in sight and we had perfect views of the mountains that make up the Central Plateau.
I would say the 19.4km Tongariro Crossing is made up of 4 parts…

Part 1: The misleading flat part. The first hour/hour and a half of the Tongariro Crossing is deceptively easy. There’s a few little uphill parts but it’s mostly flat or on boardwalks. You get amazing up-close views of Mt. Ngauruhoe and we could even see Mt. Taranaki (Egmont) in the distance. We took plenty of photos and detoured off to see Soda Springs – a natural waterfall. Unfortunately, the water contains heaps of minerals from the volcanic rock so you can’t drink from it but it is worth the 10 min detour.

Part 2: Up. Just before you start the second section there is a sign that warns you if you don’t think you are fit to continue or if you are unprepared for the alpine terrain then you’re best not to continue on. It means it. You’re confronted with a steep uphill section with tonnes of stairs (‘Devil’s Staircase’) which take you over some old lava flows and up to the South Crater. Crossing the South Crater is a nice flat basin which you need after all the climbing you’ve just done. We snapped some awesome pics infront of Mt. Ngaruruhoe and then carried on up to the Red Crater. You can detour off to climb to the top of Mt. Ngauruhoe (a 3hr return trip) but we decided against it (and I’m glad). There’s no marked track up the volcano so it’s a case of finding your own way up and making your own way back down.
Red Crater is the highest point of the Tongariro Crossing. To get to the peak you have to navigate chains and wires that assist you to make the climb. There was some snow at the top too which the boys enjoyed making into snowballs and hurling at each other! We started making the detour to the Mt. Tongariro summit but after we reached a certain point we decided to turn around and carry on along the main route. You get an awesome view of the Emerald Lakes and the Blue Lake from up here and we could even see Lake Taupo in the distance. The track down from the Red Crater is steep. It took me forever to get down because it was all loose scree underfoot and it slides out from underneath you so easily. The army was running up and down it. I dunno how they do it. Sigh.


Part 3: Once you are down from the crater, you are right next to the Emerald Lakes. These are stunning. The colours are so vibrant due to the minerals in the volcanic rock and the sulphur. You can walk right around them and get some wicked photos. Another short climb leads you to the tranquil Blue Lake. It’s pretty massive. And blue. The Maori name for it translates to Rangihiroa’s mirror and you can see why. Enjoy the view here while you can because it’s one of the last things really worth taking scenic pics of in my opinion.

Part 4: Downhill. If you thought your legs hated uphill then think again because you’re in for about 3 hours of downhill. It might seem nice at first but your legs will protest after no time. You can see the Te Maari craters which still send out quite a bit of steam after their most recent eruption in 2012 and some more views of Lake Taupo. You weave downhill to the Ketetahi Shelter (which is currently closed due to damage from the aforementioned eruption when debris was hurled into the hut). There are hot springs in the area but they are on private land and you aren’t permitted to access them. Once you leave the hut, you continue to wind your way down to the bush line and then take a downhill stroll through the bush for about 45 min until you reach the Ketetahi Carpark.

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We were exhausted after this. It took us 7 hours which isn’t bad considering all the stops for photos, food, and to catch our breaths…. plus my very slow descent down the side of the Red Crater.  My hips, feet, calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes etc. all ached. #worthit

Sunday
Sunday was another busy day #norestforthewicked 😉
Paul and I went up to Auckland for the Bride & Groom wedding show. There were so many vendors there and if I was planning a wedding in NZ I would’ve been completely overwhelmed. We were able to talk to a lady from the resort that we want to get married at in Rarotonga and she has offered us an amazing discount on their all inclusive package so we are stoaked. I also subscribed to the Bride & Groom magazine which got me a goodybag packed with over $330 worth of products, vouchers, and testers. Bargain.
That evening, Paul and I went to my aunt’s house for dinner as their side of the family wanted to celebrate our engagement and give us some engagement presents. It was a lovely meal with roast meat and veggies and was great to see some of my cousins and their children who I haven’t seen in years!

Monday
Back to reality and normal routines. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning and felt like I needed an extra 3 weekend days but the week has well and truly begun and I am looking forward to a much more relaxed week.

Right I will stop there!

Until next time,    xx M

Nic’s Notes:

  • I graduated
  • #whatdoyoumeme?
  • Tongariro Crossing – think I saw you there??
  • Wedding expo
  • We got gifts!
  • It’s Monday
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