Thursday, July 05, 2012

a long way down the track

Phew, this is a long post!But then it was a long trip. And once you have viewed all the pictures you can congratulate yourself that you have traveled most of the length of the north island(because who knows about anything north of Auckland, apart from the Bay of Islands...which are not even on the beautiful west coast of northland that I am so proud of...but I digress...)

We left Wellington early in the morning.Driving up to the kapiti coast we passed through several tunnels.(tunnels do not make for good photos so you will have to take my word for these.All of that is wrapped in family memories,trips on trains to Johnsonville,Khandallah, to the city with my cousins,Mary and Joan.Sadly I haven't seen Mary for years and she was not able to make it to her mother's funeral. Well wherever you are Mary I wish you joy and happiness and some amazing views. You were an important part of my childhood and I hope that goodness follows you and surrounds you.

Back to our trip. Because the train only stopped at  six stations(including Wellington and Auckland) we were fortunate to have Duncan narrating for most of the journey. The train was in the process of refurbishment and they planned to have taped commentary happening soon. Personally I think we were lucky to have Duncan as he spoke with humor and personalized what could have ended up as "just another travel log"
The trip started cool with a promise of cooler to come!Everywhere was green and lush and familiar New zealand countryside and farm houses sped by.

 "The long train moves: we move in it along.
Like an old ballad, or an endless song,
It drones and wimbles its unwearied croon—
Croons, drones, and mumbles all the afternoon."

As well as fully air-conditioned(think heated) carriages, at the rear of the train was a wonderful surprise:the viewing coach, which was completely open to all weather experiences and great photographic opportunities.
Here is ds again in the viewing coach. He spent most of the 10 hours there, finding and making friends and coming in to sit with us only when hunger or thirst needed another response.
As I said earlier got colder!

"Faster than fairies, faster than witches, 
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches, 
And charging along like troops in a battle, 
All through the meadows the horses and cattle: 
All of the sights of the hill and the plain 
Fly as thick as driving rain; 
And ever again in the wink of an eye, 
Painted stations whistle by."
heading in to National Park, the vegetation changed

And getting closer we saw a ...

Along the way, we saw fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, rugged bush landscapes before ascending up the world famous Raurimu Spiral to the volcanic plateau passing the majestic volcanoes of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu.

"In the final push to close the gap in the North Island main trunk line, the railway had reached Taumarunui by 1904. To the south lay the imposing ascent onto the Waimarino plateau. After much difficulty, civil engineer Robert Holmes came up with a remarkable answer. He designed the Raurimu spiral, which included two tunnels, three horseshoe curves and a complete circle."

Coming into the Waikato district the scenery changes
poor photo but it shows the small volcanic hills visible in this terrain.

And so in a single day we travelled past every kind of scenery there is, from coastline to volcanoes to mountains, from lush green farmland to thick New Zealand bush. an epic 681 kilometre (423 mile) journey!

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