All winter Rosie was wanting to go play in the snow, and when we headed down to Dunedin - twice - she thought she'd get the chance. But we didn't have a car to go exploring, and it didn't get low enough to be snowing in the streets - even though it was snowing in Hawke's Bay of all places!
So, for her birthday, I thought it only fair enough that we go searching for snow in the central North Island, where the ski fields are in Winter. We'd been there a few times already this year, but always just passing through - through National Park on our way back from our Taranaki Honeymoon, and then again as an overnight stop at the start of Easter weekend, en route to Lower Hutt. The latter time we'd stayed at a little place called A+ Lodge which had great rooms at a reasonable price, and a warm and friendly host. So we were more than happy to make that our base for the weekend.
In our quest for snow, first I thought we might be able to find some just by walking up to the bushline on Tongariro, especially since Rosie was a bit apprehensive about the potential for the road to Whakapapa being rather precarious. We'd done it easily enough in summer and beheld the impressive rock formations, but that was without the dangers of snow on the roads. Anyway, we set off up the Ketetahi track, with a chill wind blowing through the trees. I'd done the path before on my Standard 4 school trip back in '97, and I couldn't remember having much trouble even then. It was quite steep going though in parts, and it is quite an altitude climb also. We encountered a few scatterings of traces of slushy snow in places, and found a small patch at the bushline, sure enough. We also found a raging gale that put an abrupt halt to our plan of pushing on to the Hut. So we descended and made for Whakapapa to see what they reckoned about the road.
And of course, around that side of the mountain, there was no trouble at all. Very small amount of wind, the snow had been well cleared off the road by the ploughs, and the sun beating down had melted any ice away long before. So we made it up to the ski village without incident, and proceeded to have some fun in the white stuff =D
Then when we'd had enough and warmed up with a bite to eat at the cafe, we headed around the mountain further to see what was to be said about the road to Turoa - chains after 14km it turned out, so we didn't bother, and continued through to Waiouru, then up the Desert Road. No severe weather warnings, though dark clouds were closing in. We had a bit of sleet on the windscreen at one point, but managed to stay ahead of anything worse, and got some tremendously dramatic weather shots of the obscured mountains.
Sunday, after leaving Turangi, we stopped by the DOC trout hatchery we'd passed the day before. Ironic how the Department of Conservation, usually dedicated to native flora/fauna, would run a hatchery for an imported recreational animal, but it nonetheless made for a pleasant bush walk to the river, albeit tempered by the tasteless way in which they raise the fish to be caught by children in a specific pond in the winter. Can't say I'd want my children learning to enjoy molesting wildlife at a young age, but each to their own I suppose.
Back to Whakapapa for one last scamper in the snow, then up SH4 through Taumaranui, Te Kuiti, Te Awamutu, and through Hamilton. No photos from that part of the journey, as it's all fairly typical Kiwi countryside shots I've captured before when we were on the Overlander, and on our honeymoon. But I played around with the shutter settings on the way back into the city, and I've put those up just for fun =D