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Last weekend it was Tom’s birthday, and what better way to spend turning 24 then in the big snowy mountains! Although ski season hasn’t kicked off yet here in New Zealand, we went to check out the small alpine town of Ohakune. It’s located in the central North Island, on the edge of the world heritage Tongariro crossing, one of the best tramps in the world. It was quite surreal waking up that morning in sunny Mount Maunganui, leaving the white sandy beaches and surf, and arriving 3 hours South to see the likes of Mount Doom and Mount Ruapehu covered in snow. We stopped in Taupo first and it was a beautiful clear day, you could see the mountains at the end of the lake. Bearing in mind it takes 45 minutes to get to the other side of the lake, it was crystal clear.    The drive around Lake Taupo was beautiful, the road literally hugs the water. We then drove through Turangi and carried on to the national park. As we got closer the mountains came into clearer view and it was so exciting. There wasn’t much snow on them on Saturday but they still looked majestic and stunning. As we were driving around the national park to reach Ohakune we decided to drive up a dirt track to get a better view of the mountains. We reached the end of the track, which was a car park. The exact same car park we ended up in last year, 7 hours after walking the tongariro crossing. It was completely surreal to be back there again. We had no idea it was the finishing line we were driving up to, we wouldn’t of found it if we’d tried! I think that’s one of the weirdest feelings.. When you go somewhere you think you’ve never been before but end up realising you have been there. It doesn’t happen often, but my god it’s strange. After a few photo ops and taking in the scenery we arrived in Okahune.  I’m not going to lie… It’s a weird little town. Maybe because it was out of season and the buzz of the skiers and snowboarders wasn’t there yet. I’ve never been to a ski town before but I imagine in season it gets better. Sitting pretty at the bottom of the high street however is the beautiful Mount Ruapehu which on a clear day is breathtaking. When we first arrived it was cloudy and you wouldn’t even know it was there. When we got back into town later though the sky had cleared and it looked amazing.  When we arrived we dumped our bags in our room and decided to take a drive towards the mountain. We had no idea where we were going or how far the road would take us. Turns out we could drive quite a way up the mountain, up to the snow. It was crazy the temperature drop in 5 minutes of driving and how one minute we were driving through green tropical bush then all of a sudden there was snow! The mountains looked magical!     It was bitter cold up there…But Tom had to show off his new tshirt …             That evening we ate at mountain rocks bar and watched the Chiefs vs hurricanes. There was a small crowd in the bar, mainly locals I think. We hit the hay after that, our room was freeeeezing! The next morning we went for a hike to the waterfalls. The hike took us through bush and onto the open plauteu which was cool then we saw the highest falls tongariro park has to offer. I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls in my time and I have to say, this one was gorgeous. Mainly just because it’s surrounded by so much bush and you feel completely in the wilderness.           After our hike we decided to drive further into the national park. We were so lucky with the weather, it was a beautiful day, bright blue crisp skies and there had been more snowfall over night on the mountains so they looked incredible! We had thought they looked nice the day before, but oh my… Today was on another level. It looked like something off a postcard everywhere you looked. In fact, at the tourist information centre earlier that morning, Tom had seen a picture of a mountain at the end of a road and asked the lady where we could get a shot like this. We were on that exact road but it looked so much better in real life. We pulled over at the side of the road, in front of a kiwi sign to be even more cheesy, and just sat there for ages taking it in. We couldn’t stop taking photos. Straight ahead was Mount Ruapetu then to the left was Mount Ngauruhoe, all covered in snow.               We saw on the road map a single road going straight through the park rather than around it, so we followed it. It took us to Bruce road, next thing we know we’re up a mountain again. This time there was a few chalets and ski shops, it was one of the prettiest things I’ve seen. The mountain overlooked a desert. Yes that’s right, an alpine desert, I didn’t know they even existed. It was truly breathtaking!       After all the excitement of the mountains we returned back to the Mount, I was kind of glad to get back to warmer climates and our nice big bed. The weekend was so much fun though, it felt like we were away much longer than just one night. New Zealand certainly put on a show for us and it’s crazy how much beautiful scenery is in one small place. We’re hoping to return to Ohakune in a few months when the ski season starts, we’ve never tried it before but I can’t wait! With love, L x

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