Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ohakune, New Zealand

 Mr Hippo and I are going to be in NZ for about 10 days.  He is here to attend his IPCC conference and I come for a software training course, both in Wellington.  We scheduled three days to tour around the Northern Island before getting down to our business.

We hired a car from Wellington airport and drove all the way to Ohakune yesterday.  This small town locates at the southern end of the Tongariro National Park, which we will be visiting next.

Ohakune is a base for skiers because it close to the southwestern slopes of the active volcano Mount Ruapehu.  It is not peak skiing season, so there are not many visitors around now.

We stayed at Powderhorn Chateau last night.  The place is built around 1919 homestead of a family who owned a timber business, so not surprisingly, everything here seems to made of wood.  The current owner managed to create a magically attractive atmosphere by combing traditional and modern elements: photos of New Zealand's saw milling and timber era on the walls, candle-shaped lamps everywhere, and heavy wooden doors that unexpectedly opened in front of us...

Another landmark of Ohakune is the world's largest carrot on the eastern side of the town.  Obviously, once upon a time, the town was famous for its production of carrots!  I have to admit, the giant carrot suddenly makes me feel very homy, as Australians are very into big things as well.  

The sign near the big carrot fits us just perfectly, "Ohakune, where adventures begin."  In the next couple of days, we are going to check out volcanoes and hot springs before heading back to Wellington.

We are also starting to pick up New Zealand accent, where they don't seem to differentiate "e" and "i."  For example, they will say "ig sandwich" rather than "egg sandwich," which could be rather confusing...

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