Today I get up in time to go to Orakei Korako. My expectations are quite high, because I have seen beautiful photographs of it, earlier this week. I arrive just after 08:00. Here you have to cross the river to get to the geothermal valley. It takes a while for the boat driver to arrive. They have to get him.
After a while he comes trudging in, sighing and all. He is a big, grumpy guy, of at least 200 kilo’s, with a broad face on a thick neck and an enormous mol right under his lip. I get close to nothing in return for my happy ‘Good morning’. He starts checking the engine. The boat has a driverseat on the left side in the front with a chair, steering wheel, throttle pedal and a big handle like you see on these swamp boats.
The driver sets his big ass in the far too small seat and ignites the engine that starts running immediately. After a firm step on the gas we float across the river.
On the other side he uses the big handle, that turns the clutch in reverse. With a mumbled ‘mmpfff’ I am allowed to leave the boat. On this side there is a pole with a bell attached to it, that I have to use later to return. I wonder what is going to happen if I use it…
I am the very first one here today. There are spiderwebs hanging over the paths everywhere. The area itself is a bit disappointing. The light is coming from the wrong direction for photography and the beautiful vivid colouring I have seen on photographs is barely visible, at least on large surfaces. There are some coloured canals though.
On this detail level, photographing is quite fun, although the low angle of the sun complicates things a bit. These canals are only 30 centimeters wide.
The game here is to zoom in, getting as close as you can and try to find a good composition in a coloured area.
A very narrow canal of only 10 centimeters wide, colours almost golden in the light of the sun.
More towards the sun, things become a bit hazy by the rising steam.
Close to the end, I finally notice some colours I have seen on the photographs before. But now these colours are limited to a small water stream, instead of the large surfaces I have seen on the photographs.
A broader perspective is bothered a bit by sunlight.
This area is quite active and changes constantly. Maybe that is the reason that things are less spectacular right now. After one and a half hour I have seen it completely and have to submit myself to a silent river crossing once again. Luckily I do not have to call him because he already comes this way with a new load.
Back at the car and looking back I see the boatdriver sailing in boring circles in the middle of the river, whereafter he parks the vessel at the mooring to wait for the next ‘load’.
Hereafter I go to the hydrothermal factory that I have seen here yesterday evening. But photographing it, is not an option. I can not find a proper location to shoot from.
Earlier this week I had something else. I had bought shaving foam, at least I thought I had. I covered my face with it and if felt a bit weird. Very dry and thick. It was almost impossible to shave myself. The blades were constantly clogged with that shit. I read the text on the tube again, better this time. It appeared to be beared conditioner, that you have to mix with water. What a rubbish. That is why it did not work. (-;
As I have finished this early in the day here, I do not feel like going back to Tongariro National Park. Especially because I want to photograph at the end of the day overthere. It seems better to start traveling to the west, to Egmond National Park.
The Forgotten World Highway runs through an area with steep hills that stand very close to each other. Erosion is limited, indicating that it is still very young, geologically speaking. As a consequence you can not drive 50 meters without turning. This is a tiring trip with lots of corners to take. Driving for an hour this way is kind of fun, but after a couple of hours I am completely done with it. All stuff flies through the car all the time.
From a distance of 70 kilometers, the volcano can be seen very clearly, already.
After a drive of approximately 6 hours and well over 400 kilometers I arrive at Egmond National Park in the west. The trip has taken much longer than I though it would and that is more rule than exception here. I think that the reason for it is that you are allowed to drive at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour, but there are only few places where you really can. The GPS calculates with the 100 I guess.
Now it is 16:00 hours and I should start looking for a motel or checkout photo locations for tonight. But I am in desparate need to get out of the car for a little stroll. I continue to the north side of the mountain for a walk in Kamahi Forest, a rainforest covered in moss, which looks like something from a fairytale.
This is by the way the wettest place in New Zealand. Every year, a whopping 7 meters of water is unleashed here. I have seen spectacular photographs of trees covered in moss in the visitor center earlier, but these are several hours walking away from here and that is not possible anymore today.
Here is a nice scene on the path that grabs my attention completely.
The typically formed piece of wood in the foreground just looks like a bird.
Hereafter I start looking for a motel and this is not easy. I expected to find lots of accomodation here. There are a couple of motels but this is the second time that I enter a city to find out that during the first 3 days of the week all motels are occupied by business people. Have to occupy all rooms with their management meetings. Weird habit.
The first motel I ring the doorbell is completely booked, but a friend further down the road has still a room left. He asks my budget. Thinking ‘this is not smart’, I mention an amount that sounds reasonable for this area 120 dollars. He confirms that this is about right. I think ‘of cource, as soon as I lift my heels here, you phone your friend to inform him about how much I am willing to pay for a room’. And indeed, me stepping into my car, he is already on the phone.
I start looking for another motel. This takes a lot of time. After driving around for one and a half hours, I finally find one for 90 dollars. Internet is a problem though. They do have it, but they have to ‘turn it on’ ??? and they close at 20:00. Around this time I will be driving around still taking photographs. When I explain my intentions, she tells me that I can try until 21:00 hours.
Time starts to press. The light is already getting gorgeous, but Mt Egmond is in shade from this side. The sun is much more southern than expected. There is nothing left than start driving towards that light in the south.
After driving 45 minutes along the coast, I enter an area where the volcano is basking in warm evening light. Now I have to find a spot with a proper foreground to complete the picture.
This appears to be far from easy. I try a couple of sideroads but fail to find what I am looking for. The sun starts to drop quickly to the horizon and I jump out of the car to take some photographs here. The foreground sucks, but I have no alternative.
I try to improve drama by compression with a telelens.
Another vertical try and then the sun drops under the horizon and I am finished here. A matter of seconds, really.
The way back via de GPS follows the slope of the volcano via a scary little road. It has only one lane and is completely overgrown. It seems to be an official road because I see roadmarkings and signs. But it is very narrow and for 10 kilometers, I continue to drive through a dark tunnel of foliage not broader than a cycling track. In these moments you really ask yourself whether everything will be all right again. However, the GPS is (almost) always right.
In the end the tunnel opens up, the road becomes broader and I have the town in sight as well. On my left I see the moon above sea. After a total of 50 minutes I am back at my hotel. I am completely dog-tired and can only think about sleeping. I stay awake for another half hour to write in my diary and slide in my bed. Internet is skipped for today.
Maps, Charts & Downloads
GPS Map with color coded altitude information. For one reason or another I am missing a part of the GPS information.
Color coded distance/altitude chart
Download the original gpx file gpx file here.