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Published: November 4th 2017
After week 1s ups and downs we are happy to report this week was much more successful! After having the Mothership sorted we headed down towards Rotorua.
During the drive down we saw "Karangahake Gorge". There was a road riding alongside it and we saw a car park so pulled in to have a gander. Glad we did, it was amazing! We went on a stroll through the rail tracks left over from where they used to mine for gold. Saw the mine shafts in the side of the cliffs and the river itself was a white water rafters dream. It was very very fast flowing with all of the bends and turns of an F1 track. These miners back in the day must have had balls of steel teetering on the edge of this thing.
Further on the way we spent the night at an amazing place called "Rays rest camping reserve". A freedom camping spot right on the beach where you can pick your spot, park up and enjoy the view with all of the sea birds going about their business. Always a bonus hearing the sea when you go to sleep!
In the morning the sun was beaming so we went on a stroll along a prime bird watching spot by the sea and the afternoon went to the 'biggest thermal pool in the Southern Hemisphere' and nearly passed out because it was so bloody hot! That night we stayed in another great spot in the middle of the forest (picture Jurassic park) and drove onto Rotorua the next morning.
When we arrived there we had visions of big buildings and busy streets but was more like a small town in England. We've noticed that that's a theme here. There's sooooo much space with so little people - awesome. We headed straight for the geothermal spots. First on the list was the Geyser. We turned up and when we realised it was $80 entry we quickly changed the plan! When we asked the ticket lady if there was any free spots she sent us to a Maori part of town called 'Ohinemutu' where there was a whole lake steaming with hot water and dotted all around (even in people's gardens) were steaming rocks or pools. If it was our house we'd definitely make a hot tub..... We then went to a park full of more geothermal pools and had some DIY steam therapy standing in the middle of them. Saw some bubbling mud pools and ended the day climbing 'rainbow mountain' with a view at the top which looked fake and almost animated it was that crazy.
After this we spent a couple of nights at yet another beautiful spot on the edge of Lake Aniwhenua on the way to Taupo. Whilst we were there we met a Kiwi called Brian and his wife Bernie who were also staying at the site. He was a classic ADHD adult who loved chatting to anybody about anything and soon enough we couldn't get away from him! He was hilarious, he even gave us a guided tour of his own $85,000 (£40,000ish) campervan including a fridge, shower, wifi, tv and double hob. Safe to say they were living a bit better than us with our Mothership. During his torrent of conversation he did however manage to persuade us to stay in NZ for longer than we had originally planned - there's just too much to see! Soz China, you won't be receiving our English teaching finesse this time.
Whilst we were in Taupo we found "Huka Falls". The river narrowed from 50 metres to 15 metres, creating heaps of power and ferocious rapids. This began a debate as to whether it was survivable if we fell in. Jack thought you'd probs come out with a few broken bones but still breathing, Char thought you'd be brown bread if you set foot in there - hopefully we'll never find out the answer to this debate!
There were loads of walks around the falls and river so off we trotted with our newly purchased walking boots donned. Yet again it was unbelievably beautiful. We really wanted to have a dip in the river but thought 'nahhhh too cold". So you could imagine our surprise when we saw a few people sitting in the water where a small stream met the bigger river. It turns out the stream was as hot as a bath! This instigated our change of heart and so went upstream through the bush to try and find a private spot where we could strip off and have a much needed warm soak. We did find a spot but because it was further up stream it was too hot to even have your feet dunked in, even for Char, gutted! We ended up following the stream along a mountain bike track and couldn't believe that here in the middle of a Jurassic park esk jungle/forest there were natural WARM streams everywhere - it was something out of wizard of oz.
That night we stayed at a place called "5 mile bay". A camping spot overlooking a giant lake. So we parked up the Mothership and proceeded to down 2 bottles of red wine (when in Rome). The sunset was one of the best we've seen so far in NZ and the rest of the evening was a bit of a blur to be fair.
Next morning we headed for Hawkes bay. A place world renowned for its vineyards and wineries and no wonder - they're everywhere! We did almost experience some more Mothership trouble here though as the oil change light had flashed up on the dash - groan. We did waste some time going to some garages to see what the problem was. Turns out it was just a malfunctioning light on the dash that wasn't a problem at all so this time not costing us a penny just our time. We had a look around Hawkes bay and had a sausage sandwich lunch with some reduced chorizo. We've been pretty vegetarian since arriving here due to the lack of a fridge so this was a real treat. That night was possibly one of the best camping spots we've stayed at so far (Mohi Bush Reserve). It was in the middle of the greenest, most mountainous farmland with no other human being in site. Only the huge cows and bulls for company with a few sheep and hares knocking about - bliss.
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