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Extended Millers

Keeping close though far apart

Monday, January 05, 2004

We came back yesterday evening from our New Year's holiday with our two New Zealand couples, plus Josh & Bec. We are all enjoying their company.

Wednesday, we headed off with them - destination: Tauranga, via the Coromandel Peninsula. Enjoyed a lovely drive up the Thames Coast beside the sparkling water, with gnarled old pohutukawas making a pleasing scene. Had lunch by the sea, with Josh & Dad buying the biggest icecreams you ever did see!! On to beautiful Cook's Beach, but Josh & Bec weren't hot enough for a swim! )

Called at Hot Water Beach, had fish and chips at Waihi Beach, and wound up at Jon & Ruth Ellen's mid evening.

Sjoerd & Pris joined us there on New Year's Day, and it was off to some spectacular Falls for a picnic lunch and swim for the courageous, as the water was freezing cold.

After a lovely dinner cooked by all the "girls", we hopped across to "The Mount" for a sunset climb by some, and beach walk by others. It was a balmy evening with a softly-setting sun (sets much slower here than in Oz, so it is a lovely time to enjoy). Dad had fun taking video film with the new video camera we have bought with a portion of my parents' legacy. This all followed by a gentle swim in the thermal salt-water baths.

All 8 of us could easily fit in Jon & RE's big house, with 2 on mattresses on the lounge floor. The 6 young ones played Risk (again!) while the older couple enjoyed some good old-fashioned slumber.

On Friday, Dad & I, with Josh & Bec, headed off sightseeing, working our way to Taupo. First stop Rotorua, and Josh & Bec went "zorbing". (You can ask them what that is.)

Rainbow Springs was very well done with tapes & headphones for every one. Our Ozzie visitors had a close-up acquaintance with a kiwi here. Lunch by the Lake, then on to Wai-O-Tapu to see boiling mud, steaming pools, emerald-coloured lakes, etc. They were suitably impressed - as were we!

Huka Falls, then a drive by the lovely Lake Taupo, with the sun setting behind the 3 mountains, Ruapehu snow-clad. Next day... that is where they were going! Yes... see quote from their email:
"Josh wants to see if he can talk Mr Miller into climbing the New Zealand version of Crookneck! (He's also planning to climb volcanoes...)"

Cousins Patricia & Warwick Tyler (our hosts) have retired here, and enjoy spectacular views over the Lake and down to the mountains.

In the crisp dawn of Saturday morning, Dad, Sjoerd & Pris (driving from Tauranga), and Josh & Bec, set off to tramp the 'Tongariro Crossing', which Patricia says has been called the "best walk in the world!!" 11:30am the phone rings - "I am standing on Tongariro - it’s great - can see Mount Egmont - Josh is trying to persuade me to go up Ngaruahoe!"

2:00pm: "I am on top of Ngaruahoe! We are all up here - just having our lunch - wonderful views - can see Lake Taupo..." (I'll get Dad to write now!!)

"Tongaririo Crossing is a tramp around and over the lower peak of Tongariro and across 2 of its craters. Moonscape - brilliant colours - lakes of emerald and blue - jagged rocks - multi-coloured mud - fantastic views of Mt Egmont, Ruapehu, the Kaimanawas, Lake Taupo - WOW!!!

Rising from the south crater rim of Tongariro, Mount Ngaruahoe is something out if this world!! Its steeply-sloping, conical sides are a mixture of jagged lava flows and massive scree slopes. Two hours of scrabbling found us on top of the world!! We were now on the rim of the volcano, looking down into the spectacular crater. Lunch was eaten perched on hot rocks accompanied by sulphurous-smelling steam. Our descent was rapid - "skiing" the loose scree slopes to rejoin the Tongaririo Crossing track."

Ruth Ellen & Jon did not come on this part of the Expedition, as they needed a catch-up day before taking off on their 2nd Wedding Anniversary Trip. As I write, they will be in the Hawkes Bay in either Napier or Hastings, or thereabouts. Have a great time you two!

Five very happy climbers arrived back at Tyler's House very thrilled with their day's adventure. Other than some sunburn, and one gouged leg, they were in very good condition! Dad has some great video, so we can all take in the spectacular scenery, and show the English Rellies as well!

Sunday, all were up in time for breakfast (in spite of their lack of sleep with the lateness of their homecoming the night before), and at the Lord's Supper down by the Lake. Josh couldn't resist looking at an "Open Home" on the way back to Tylers' for lunch. He's been reading the Real Estate News in every town he's been in! Wants to buy his bit of New Zealand!!

Pris & Bec cooked us a very nice dinner back at "Toot Cottage", (Sjoerd & Priscilla's new house) where Josh & Bec were staying before heading off for the Bay of Islands this morning. For the rest of us, it is business as usual.

Uncle Jono will soon be off to Paraguay - how lovely for the family over there - I guess he will give them rides in a box and play lots of games with them too.

Many thanks again for the gift.
Much love to everyone,
Dad & Mum,
Grandma & Grandad Miller