People often talk about there being four seasons in one day. But, to be honest, the chances of both leaves going brown and blossoms blooming in one place, in one 24-hour period, is practically zilch. What’s more common is just your classic cold-one-moment-hot-the-next scenario (or vice versa). This is what characterised my weekend of scenic running.
Here in New Zealand, Friday was the last official day before summer. It was also cold.
A nasty southerly had moved up the country bringing snow to relatively low levels (for November). I was driving north from Wellington to Auckland and had a little free time. So when arrived at a sleety Desert Road (an alpine desert surrounded by live volcanoes) I pulled up the car, donned my summer running gear (a t-shirt and shorts was all I had with me!) and went for a quick, super cold, but incredibly beautiful desert run.
There were no trails. I just picked a line and ran it. Jumping over mounds of tussock and moss and cracking patches of dried silt and sand. It was beautiful and there was a weird eeriness about it. The wind whistled in my numbing ears, fresh snow lay 200m or so higher up, and Mt Tongariro pumped out smoke and steam just a few kilometres away (it erupted a week earlier).
After this, I drove on, warming my hands on the car heaters, to Taupo’s Spa Park. This has a natural hot spring that empties into the crystal clear waters of the Waikato River. So it makes the perfect hot/ice bath after a run. And the park also marks the start of an incredible riverside trail that takes you down to the powerful Huka Falls. I completed the rest of my run at this warmer location and finished with a soak in the thermal waters and also a quick cold water dip.
Next stop heading north, after a night’s sleep, was the Coromandel Peninsula’s Waihi Beach.
What a contrast to the winter-like conditions of the Desert Road. It was Saturday—the first day of summer—and the sun was hot. There was a light offshore breeze and the Pacific Ocean was sparkling like the tropics.
One of my favourite coastal trails starts from Waihi Beach and heads over the headland for about 3k to the pristine white-sand of Orokawa Bay. From there its another 5k or so over a series of bays and cliffs to Homunga Bay—another dream deserted beach. It was good up and down running along a suitably-untamed single trail.
The pictures speak for themselves. But on weekends like these you really do appreciate creation and appreciate the health to be able to reach these places where no car can travel. Running is simply the best way to see the world and I encourage you—whether you find yourself amidst winter or summer—to find a trail and go exploring.