After a great day in Waitomo we hit the road to continue south. We have tickets to ride the ferry out of Wellington on Christmas day, and we also have a hotel reservation in Wellington lined up for the two nights before Christmas. So as much as we’d like to see more of the North Island, we had to get moving. Our last sightseeing stop before Wellington was the volcano Mount Taranaki (also called Mount Egmont) in Egmont National Park. This national park caught our eye while looking at maps because the park boundary is an almost perfect circle surrounding the volcano. Driving south along the coast we were surprised when we could make out the lower slopes of the mountain from almost 100 kilometers away.
We drove up the east side of the mountain to a parking area and hiked a short way beyond that. There’s apparently a small ski area up here and we followed the trail into a V-shaped valley lined with cliff bands of black volcanic rock. The mountaintop was shrouded in clouds, but we did get a brief glimpse of the upper slopes as the clouds thinned briefly. The mountain itself was impressive, but looking out at the flat agricultural fields surrounding it was also a scenic view. After the visit to Egmont we continued down the coast to the town of Wanganui to camp in a holiday park for the night.
The next morning our tent was drenched. No, it didn’t rain, but the dew at our riverside campground was so heavy that the tent was dripping water on the inside. This was the wettest dew we’ve seen on this trip. Then to make matters worse, my sleeping pad started to come apart! It still holds air, but the inside layers are coming apart and there’s a bubble forming near the head of the pad. I hope it doesn’t get much worse before I can get it replaced. After more driving and a nice lunch stop at a small town beach, we reached Wellington.
Our hotel is a small guest house which feels like a private home turned into an inn. I wouldn’t quite call it a B&B, but it’s close to that. It’s not far from downtown so we walked to dinner at a Malaysian restaurant Caroline found online. After dinner we walked around the waterfront for a bit. We can’t help but notice a similarity between Wellington and San Francisco. With all the Victorian houses perched on hills, the waterfront and lush greenery, there’s quite a lot in common between the two cities.