Apparently the story of the mouse in the van has caused a ruckus back home, because I've received no fewer than 6 messages today asking me about what ended up happening with it. Well, nothing really. Last contact with Pablo (I'm calling him Pablo) was at about 8pm last night, and he hasn't been heard from since. If he's still with me, he's a fair distance from home! For now though, the tale of the mouse in the house has ended.
Today took me from Lake Taupo, deep into the Tongariro National Park. This is particularly exciting for me, because this national park is home to Mount Ngauruhoe - better known by Lord of the Rings fans as "Mount Doom". Unfortunately on the drive in it was covered in clouds, but there was no mistaking the outline of it. Fingers crossed tomorrow is a different story, because from what I could make out - it's bloody enormous!
It's incredible how fast the scenery changes in New Zealand. This morning I watched the sun rise over a lake, an hour later I was driving through some beautiful countryside, and another half hour later I was deep in one of the thickest forests I've ever seen.
At one point I decided to pull over to stretch the legs a little bit, so I picked a walking track and wandered off down it.
Another bloody waterfall! At this point I'm convinced that at the end of every single walking track in New Zealand is an impressive waterfall. I'm yet to go on a walk that hasn't had at least one.
I quickly popped into the Whakapapa Holiday Park (pronounced - I shit you not - "fuckapapa"), to book my site for the evening, and then pressed a little bit further up Mount Ruapehu. Fun fact, this mountain is where they shot a lot of the Mordor scenes in Lord of the Rings. I also discovered (a little too late) that thermals are an absolute necessity up there, as it was a balmy -5°.
Now time to settle in back at the holiday park for the night, and try to plan out what I'm up to tomorrow. As far as things I actually sorted out for this trip - I'm now more or less caught up with what I had in mind. Everything from this point onwards is completely made up the night before, which is both incredibly exciting; and a little bit nerve-wracking.