The day dawned clear and bright. From our hostel room window we could see that even Mt. Ruapehu was peeking out from the clouds revealing a clear summit.
Yes, we’re heading up that way but the brochure I was reading offered options. “Walk up, run up, or catch the lift.” So let’s see if I’ve got this straight. We can climb up over around and through the stark, barren, and boulder-strewn steep mountainside or take a nice chairlift or two up to the highest cafe in New Zealand, have breakfast above the clouds and enjoy a spot of lookout viewing.
The chairlift won the day but first Marce had to face that fear of heights thing and until today she had successfully avoided chairlifts or anything that lifts you high up and dangles from a cable. But Marce is a team player and after warning the lift helper that this was her virgin ride she clamped onto the bar with a death grip and away we went. After awhile she opened her eyes and I fancied that she enjoyed the ride. A real trooper.
Two long lifts later and what a magnificent view. We even toyed with the idea of following a route all the way to the summit clambering over boulders, going from white pole to white pole but with no discernible path and an estimated two “Kiwi Hours” each way. One could even hike to Mead’s Wall which was featured in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Instead we sat down at the cafe above the clouds and had breakfast while watching a few hardy souls picking their way through the lunar landscape up towards the summit.
After breakfast the clouds suddenly moved in and we headed for the chairlifts for a ride through the clouds. Coming out of the cloud cover we were rewarded with another spectacular view. The land of the long white cloud is as mysterious as it is beautiful.