Where to begin.....the days have been jam packed.....glow worms, waterfall hikes, blueberry picking, volcano climbs and movies in the tent....so many stories it is hard to know which to tell. We are most definitely "seeing" New Zealand.
The next stop on our Lord of the Rings tour was at Mordor. Yes....you heard me...MORDOR!!Absolutely stunning and exactly as it looks in the movie. Mordor is basically at the foot of a volcano. We had the latitude and longitude and used our GPS to arrive at the exact location where Gollum jumped down onto the hobbits. You can call us geeks. Well maybe not me....I asked the kids if Dobby and Gollum were friends. Am I the only one who thinks this is funny? LOL.
Once we had our pictures we let the kids know that we were climbing the volcano. Amelia couldn't wrapped her brain around why we wouldn't just take the chair lift up. Finally after much whining we decided that it might not be a bad idea to let the kids meet us at the top of the lift and then hike the few hours beyond there to the crater rim. We totally raised her hopes and gave her a $20 for 2 tickets. She came back to let us know it was $14 each and this was enough to give us a wake up call and ask ourselves....what the heck? We are in NZ to tramp and tramp we will!!
The hike began with grumpy Millie.....and we stumbled and climbed up fairly large rocks. Over head we watched as the folks in the chair lift rode above us and every once in a while letting out a "hello". You can imagine Amelia's comments :-).
About halfway up her mood changed and the singing began. We came to a beautiful small shower waterfall and the kids cooled off. We enjoyed a snack and an amazing view. The hike continued....straight up. It was such a satisfying feeling once we had arrived at the top and saw others stepping off the lift. I saw Alex puff with pride as a fellow asked in surprise..."Did you just climb up here?"
We ate our lunch and prepared for the next 2 hour hike up to the top and snow level.....if you can believe it. The hike made me realize how out of shape I am. The final 100 meters was straight up in sandy earth and rock. My legs ached. Amelia had long since stop singing and was not a happy camper....but let me tell you once we reached the top and looked out at the glorious New Zealand landscape it was all worth it. Amelia and I climbed together to the tallest jagged point and I had that beautiful amazing feeling well up inside me that makes hard things so worth it.....I think you call it....fulfillment.
I should mention that Graham's folks and his Aunt hiked up this volcano with us. His Aunt Cathy looked like she has been hiking all her life but swears she hasn't. His mom and dad are avid hikers....with base camp Mount Everest in their list of accomplishments. It was pretty cool to see 3 generations of Perry's climbing up together.
Alex made a New Zealand snowball at the top and Amelia held the snow in her hand and remarked...."Well I can check, touching snow in New Zealand off my list of to do's now!"
After our gin and tonics and beef stew we were all exhausted. The kids decided movie night was in order. We set up our big tent so all 7 of us could lie on one side and we put the computer on the chilly bin on the other side. We were laughing so hard watching "Rat Race" that all of a sudden our door flew open and there stood a tired backpacker asking us to keep it down. You can imagine his surprise as he saw all 7 of us lying there like a tin of sardines.
ps...the name of the town is Whakapapa....and the WH is pronouced as a F sound......and the next A they kind of pronounce as a uh.....so you can just imagine how often the kids said the town name and laughed themselves silly.....ok....truth be told we were all laughing!