Its a tough life...
5th May 2009
In high spirits, we loaded Nev back up and left our camp site in Taupo to visit the local Huka Falls, which is an area where the Waikato river narrows from over 100 metres wide, to only 15 metres wide, causing scarily fast rapids (nearly 220,000 litres PER SECOND!) From one extreme to the other, we left the crashing rapids and headed north to what's known as 'the hidden valley', the tranquil Orakei Korako; reputedly one of the best geothermal parks remaining in the world. After a short boat across Lake Ohakuri, we strolled around active geysers, boiling mud pools, one of only 2 geothermal caves in the world (where, brilliantly, bathing jewelery in the pool restores it to its former glory!), and some awe-inspiring prehistoric landscape. All the while the land steamed around us! A beautiful place.
We drove onwards to Rotorua - NZ's most visited place. Your nose is aware of you being in Rotorua before any of your other senses, due to the...interesting....smell of sulphur from the huge amounts of geothermal activity in and around the town. Steam literally surrounds the town, seeping from drains and hidden pools everywhere you look! We thought a nice
Minerals doing their thing...
way to view these was to have a short jog through the local park; one benefit of the smell is that it makes you run home faster!!
Rotorua is a very traditional town, with a large Maroi population, and in the evening we were picked up and taken to a local Maori village, of the Mitai Iwi (tribe). Here we were treated to various examples of Maori dances and weaponary displays, finishing with the famous Haka - we weren't scared, honest!! After, we ate our Hangi dinner - Hangi being the traditional earth oven form of cooking - of Lamb, Chicken and various forms of potato! Expecting a few English folk in the crowd, they also put on some stuffing for us!
The evening finished with our first sighting of the nocturnal, and very elusive Kiwi bird - our new favourite bird! Everyone has a favourite bird...right??!
A very full, and fun, day.
6th May 2009
Muscles still aching a little from the wee excursion up the volcanoes, and the little jog yesterday, we decided to slow down a bit today. After a morning reading and contemplating the rain whilst sat in Nev (we were forecast thunder and lightning
Its bubbling hot.
for the next 5-7 days!!), we headed out to a(nother) local Winery. One with a difference though....this was a blueberry winery, NZ's only one. We sampled (in much smaller quantities, due to being in Nev!) a couple of blueberry wines, and a very nice blueberry liquor. We also munched on a few types of blueberry jams/chutneys/jellies. All were good, purchases were made!
Back in the town centre, due to the enormous amount of geothermal activity here, a huge draw for us traveller folk are the thermal pools, famed for their muscle relaxing qualities - perfect! We spent a good few hours in the thermal (sulphur) pools of varying temperature, building up to the 42 degree hot pool, all outdoor and overlooking the beautiful Lake Rotorua! Smelling 'eggy fresh', we finished the day watching rugby and eating lamb, just like real New Zealanders! Sorta...
7th May 2009
Proving that weather forecasts are just as wrong here as they are at home, we woke to a beautiful blue skied morning! Happily, we set off to Wai-o-tapu which claims to be the most colourful geothermal site in NZ. Here at 1015 sharp everyday, aided by an organic bar of soap, the Lady
Us doing our best Gollum impressions.
Knox geyser erupts and we made sure we were in position to see her go! Its an amazing site seeing a geyser manipulated into spewing the boiling water up to 100ft in the air - we stood well back! Satisfied with our geyser experience, we walked into the main park for the 75minute walk that took us around various thermal sites with names such as 'The Devils Pool', 'The Devil Bath', and 'Inferno Crater'. This maybe won't appear on the brochure, but walking through thermal parks, it feels as though you are walking through a version of hell (in a good way!!), with the ground steaming and the deep caverns bubbling away all around you. You are constantly reminded of the literally shaky ground you are walking on. After making our way around the park, we headed back into town for another dip in the Polynesian Spa's; this time for sunset. It was a completely different experience being there in the dark, and we can see why it's in the top 10 spa's in the world.
Onwards we go, making our way gradually towards Auckland, where we leave on Thursday.
Love to all,
Will speak to you
(L-R) Geezer, Geyser, Galser
all VERY soon!
D and H
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