We left Taupo around 9am, and headed off to our stopover destination of Palmerston North. We were planning to stay in Wellington for 2 nights, but unfortunately all the hotels were taken due to the World Cup qualifying match between the NZ All Whites and Bahrain! We decided to stay in nearby Palmerston North instead and then head on to Wellington the following day.
On the way to Palmerston North we stopped off at Tongariro National Park and Wanganui.
The scenery at Tongariro National Park is breathtaking…the temperature also took our breath away a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad!! You have rolling hills, snow-capped mountain peaks, and babbling streams all in the one place. the sky was blue and clear today as well, and the roads within the park were just a pleasure to drive along.
On the way from the Park to Wanganui, we spotted a car that had just overturned….it looked like quite a nasty crash as well! Some people had stopped to help and the situation seemed to be under control, but we were also wondering how long it would take an ambulance to get to you way up in those hills….the nearest big town was Wanganui and that was still quite far away. We ended up passing the ambulance, a police car and 2 fire engines after a while, but we had driven quite a way already before we saw them. That accident just shows how easy it is to get carried away on these fast yet winding roads. It can be quite deceiving as to how fast you are actually traveling – the speed limit on NZ open road is 100km or sometimes 80km, but because you are surrounded by open hilly countryside, you really don’t feel as if you are traveling that quickly. Seeing today’s accident was a bit of a reminder to watch our speed….
After a while, we arrived in the sleepy town of Wanganui. We took a quick rest break here and had a little sit down by river. A women’s rowing team were having a practice session on the river, and the current must have been quite strong because when they downed oars they quickly floated away down stream!! I think they must have been getting quite a good workout today!!
We left Wanganui and headed off for Palmerston North which wasn’t too far away. Our hotel is nice and modern and appears to be one of the ‘newer’ buildings in this quiet, garden city. After unpacking, we popped out to get some food and then walked down to ‘The Square’ – a garden area in the middle of town surrounded by the shops. The famous clock tower struck 6pm and we decided it was time to go home and relax a little. We spent the evening watching the All Whites beat Bahrain and qualify for the World Cup…Congratulations New Zealand!!