Ohakune is a lively little town, full of cafes, bars, and accommodation. Situated on the edge of Tongariro National Park, it is a busy ski town in winter for the nearby Turoa ski field.
Paris has the Eiffel Tower and Ohakune has a big carrot! A much photographed big carrot, at that. Market gardens were first established in this area in 1925, and the climate is particularly suitable for growing carrots.
Mt Ruapehu towers over the town, and at 2797m high is the tallest mountain in the North Island. We took the 17km drive up the aptly named Ohakune Mountain Road to the base of the Turoa ski field. The sealed road took us through native forest, with a change to tussock as we drove higher.
The road ended at 1690m and the landscape was a mixture of loose rock and scrubby plants. In winter all this rock would be a much more attractive sight with it’s covering of crisp white snow. The supports for the chair lift marched up the hill into the distance. The several large empty car parks we passed will be filled to overflowing when the ski season gets underway.
The view from the top was a little disappointing. It was all rather hazy, and not the crisp, clear view we were hoping for, and Mt Egmont was somewhere in the hazy distance.
Back in camp once again we all sought out the shade from the hot sun. We spent a lazy hour or two talking, reminiscing, reading, and generally relaxing and trying to keep cool. Peter organised a putting competition after our evening meal when the temperatures had dropped a little. It was soon obvious who was good at sports in their younger days and who wasn’t. We all sat around the green, encouraging or haranguing each other, and generally having a good laugh at our poor efforts.