I am so glad that trip has ended. Before we leave the bus we have to fill in a feeback from, which I duly did but am also going to email FK’s management with further comments as I don’t know how much of the feedback forms they really see.
The new guide we got brought some semblance of peace and calm back to the bus, but even so the driver tried to make out that it was my fault, and where I was sitting on the bus, that was making me feel that he was driving too fast. I received one comment from one of the younger passangers who was afraid of going up to the driver and asking him to slow down just in case he laughed in her face. She’d been sitting up front and noticed the speedo reading at 110km/hr when the speed limit was 80km/hr, and in fact the NZ limit for heavy motor vehicles towing trailers on the open road (with speed limit of 100km/hr) is in fact 90km/hr. So… he turned round to me and said he was only going 5km above the speed limit (I don’t believe him as he’s been telling tall stories to everyone the whole trip), which means what? That he’s been doing at least 40km/hr on a bend with a recommended speed limit of 35km/hr? when in fact he should be doing 25km/hr? Idiot.
He’s now seriously winding up the rest of the group left on the bus, and they get another new guide (to replace the other 2) for the rest of South Island.
I’m glad I did the Tongariro Crossing (17km) tho the weather changed rapidly from it being a nice day to wet, very wet. Puffing and panting my way up the Devil’s staircase seemed to take forever, and I do have one misty photo back from where we started walking. Across what we can only think was a crater (we walked fast!), and up the side of it to the Red crater (which is still active) and the emerald pools. Up scree and along mud and down scree (I was just getting the hang of walking in volcanic scree when it finished), and down some very well-made and maintained paths. We could see perhaps 15m in front of us, and we could clearly see cloud either side of the path – no views though (so if anyone has photos of the crossing and what it is supposed to look like, I want to see them!). We kept walking down the long slow descent wondering when, if ever, we were going to reach the cloud base and would the rain and wind ever stop? It did, finally, and we managed to get more misty pictures looking out on the other side of the volcano. We then descended into native forest which would have been really nice to look at but we were so tired after 6 hours of walking we just kept going and going and going and going. It took 7 hours in total, and as we stepped out into the carpark at the other end, the bus was there, and food part of the trailer was open and we had bacon and eggs waiting for us (and the sun was shining). The majority of people took between 4.5-5 hours, but they then had to wait for the bus to arrive, in the cold and wet, while we just did it the time we knew we could do it in. I said to people at the start – why do it fast when you know you’re going to have to wait for me at the other end. The bus isn’t going to leave until everyone is on board. As it happened, I wasn’t the slowest, there was one couple who did it in 8 hours.
I now have 3 days in windy Wellington and intend to go to the Weta studios (if I can), the Botanics, finish off my Christmas shopping (buy new, non smelly shoes), and get on my email and do some feedback. Oh and visit the chocolate fish which I was recommended to do.