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Published: January 4th 2010
This rather impressive gateways welcomes you into the Goverments Gardens.
Day 3 of our mini trip to Rotorua and I am pleased to report that the weather had improved greatly on the previous day. Despite our best intentions on having a lie-in, we were once again up and ready to go out far earlier than expected. We had heard that there was an art and crafts market held on the last Sunday of every month (which today happened to be) and so that was where we headed to first. Only it wasn't there. We drove around Rotorua for a bit just in case we had the wrong location but there was absolutely no sign of a market anywhere and indeed, very little sign of life at 9am on a Sunday morning. Oh well.
When we did the duck boat tour a couple of days' ago, we passed by an interesting spot called Sulphur Bay but didn't have the opportunity to disembark and explore the area. So that was where we went next, just a short drive round the back of the Government Gardens. When we passed by on Friday, we could clearly see where the murky geothermal waters of Sulphur Bay collided with the darker blue fresh water of Lake
Laughing Gas Pool
Looks like some of that gas has escaped!
Rotorua (see previous blog for photo). Sadly, given the stormy weather yesterday, it was impossible to see where one body of water started and the other stopped as it all seemed to merge into one.
There was a little walking track around the bay so we took a stroll through the smelly sulphurous landscape and saw yet more bubbling, boiling mud pools and steaming cracks in the ground beneath our feet. One point of interest was the so-called Laughing Gas Pool where both Moari and European settlers used to come and bathe once upon a time. It gets its name from the constantly rising bubbles said to make the bathe giggle as if they're on laughing gas... personally, it looked a bit hot and dangerous to me - apparently the hotspots in the pool move around a lot so one day it could be like taking a bath and the next, it could boil you alive!
Our final destination of the holiday was to Hanamura Springs, a local beauty spot we visited on our first time in Rotorua with our Japanese friend Lina. It's a DOC run site (Department of Conservation) and the pathways have been much improved
You can't beat a pukuko for natural amusement - it moves as oddly as it looks!
since that first visit. The walk began along a geothermal river which contains some truly beautiful colours of oranges, yellows, blues and greens. There were some big fat ducks and geese hanging around near the first bridge and it was obvious they are used to being fed by the many visitors passing through but we managed to shake them off as we could run faster than them!
Further along, the path led into a Redwood forest full of wonderfully tall, completely straight trees that were planted here more than a century ago. This is a different Redwood forest to the one we visited with Margaret and Kevin but it was just as lovely. We practiced bouncing off the springy soft tree trunks and climbing wherever possible - lots of fun. Beyond the Redwoods, the trail led on to the Hanamura Springs - one of the purest and deepest natural springs in the country. DOC had rebuilt the viewing platforms here and they were much better than before with 2 platforms standing at different heights to give different views into the deep spring below. From the high platform it was possible to gaze directly into the spring and follow the
Look closely into the water and you can see some of those lovely pale blues and greens...
path of coins being thrown in for luck by other visitors. It was mesmerising to see the glint of silver or bronze as the coins lazily flipped and span on their way down into the depths. If we looked carefully, we could even make out the shape of a couple of trout swimming about at the bottom of the spring. Incredible!
We made our way down to the lower viewing platform which jutted out almost to the edge of the spring. Both Glynn and I tossed in a coin for luck and made a wish. We have since discovered that both our wishes came true as I wished for our Residency application to be accepted and Glynn wished for everyone's wishes to come true :-)
There were plenty of other things that we could have done in Rotorua before we left but we were content to have a nice big lunch, to ready the house for the next occupants and then slowly make our way back to Auckland. On the way home, we stopped off at Candyland, having seen the sign for the turning many times before but never when the place was likely to be open for
Time for a self-portarit by the river on the way to Hanamura Springs.
business. Our vision of a Willy Wonka inspired wonderland was shortlived though as it was really just an old warehouse selling overpriced bulk bags of sweets and chocolates. The exterior had a funky sweet-themed mural painted all around it but inside it looked like it hadn't seen a lick of paint since Kajagoogoo last had a hit record. Deeply disappointing and certainly not somewhere I would bother recommending to anyone unless they couldn't wait an hour to get to a decent shop for cheaper, better quality sweeties.
And that my friends, is it :-)
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