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October 27th 2011
Published: October 26th 2011
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Real Kiwi’s are not easy to see, ask any New Zealander and chances are they haven’t. So we gave up wandering through dark forests and went to the Kiwi breeding sanctuary in Rotorua. It was a smart choice as they had eggs, day old chicks, adults and all sizes in-between. Liz went a bit goey-eyed at them and implored me to smuggle a little one out, but I said “they probably just taste like chicken, why bother”?
As you drive round Rotorua steam spirals up from vents all over the town, pools of boiling mud are all around and minor earthquakes a common event. The locals are oblivious and are very happy to take your silver coins and show you round their homesteads, some of which they accept fall into the smoking earth when hopefully they have time to get the furniture out first. We were shown round a Maori village with a name almost as long as that funny Welsh place with too many consonants. (see photo). As well as the volcanic activity they treated us to a Maori show complete with Haka training for idiots, Liz suggested I would be well suited but a younger even more handsome Scots lad beat me to it (see photo).
Moving on to Napier via Lake Taupo Liz celebrated her 52nd anniversary. Being the loving husband I am we had a meal in the pub whilst watching the rugby. (A bowl of Irish stew!) Liz was subdued but I put this down to some bad refereeing decisions.
We returned the next day to Lake Taupo and a great free camp at Reid’s Farm beside the Huka Falls, an even greater volume of water was passing through than when we were here previously, the river had come up over night so with one eye on the rising water we made for the falls, these were by far the best waterfalls we have seen in NZ. We took a tramp from the falls along side the river into Lake Taupo, the town of.
From there we took the forgotten highway, which was recommended to us by an American we meet when up north, parts were certainly forgotten as a large portion was unsealed. We travelled over some very steep and windy roads, although not that high, the weather was not great so after our nights stop and a quick look at a friendly campers free stop-over map we pushed onto New Plymouth, passing through the Republic of Whangamomona. (New Zealands version of Robbie the Pict)
We arrived in New Plymouth and stayed two nights in the car park at the port (free of course), it was much better than it might initially sound as the weather was very kind and there was a 10 kilometre beach footpath right outside our van door with coffee and ice cream spots on route. New Plymouth has a spectacular setting on the coast with the backdrop of the snow capped volcano Mt. Taranaki. Our last full week has been spent in the Coromandel peninsular in the north east, the weather has been glorious (sorry) and we have spent some time tramping costal walkways and the bizarre experience of hot springs beach where you scrape a shallow depression in the sand which then fills with very hot water, lie in it alongside lots of other like minded folk and wait for the tide to eventually overwhelm you. Does anyone remember a David Attenborough documentary where a particular group of monkeys had a hot spring source and they sat in it most of the day doing nothing, well it was exactly like that.
We are off to Auckland to hand the van back and then on Friday 28th we fly to Oz. New Zealand has been great with stunning landscapes, close up wildlife, tropical forests and the friendliest people you have ever met. Oz will be hot and different, but we are looking forward to it very much.

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26th October 2011

Hi from Dunning!
Well folks it looks like you are having a ball. Nothing changes here, except the nights are fair drawing in! I must say I would have liked to have seen more pics of the mud bath on the beach, but maybe that sounds just a wee bit perverted! Hope the next stage of the journey is as good, and your next van is as confortable. Have fun! Sx

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