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Published: August 11th 2010
Facinating!! I could watch it for hours. Amazing to feel so connected to the bowels of the earth.
Where did I leave off? Aaaah, yes, I took the plane from Wellington to Auckland and rented a car and headed south. My plane arrived a bit after four, so I did not have much driving time. If you ever come to New Zealand and want to rent a car, I recommend Jucy Car rentals, but note, they do not have office in Wellington. Also, when you go to Wellington, have an escape plan set up. Probably the best one would be to take the ferry to Picton. For those of you, like me, heading north, the plane is a smart choice.
I missed the rush hour traffic of Auckland, but I hit it in nearby town (forget name). I stopped at mall to have supper and avoid the jams, then set off in the dark. It took a few circles, but I got on the highway south and the kilometres flew by. The highways are relatively empty, but a word of warning, the highways thin into single lanes through towns and villages and you drop to 50 kms passing through them. Also, keep an eye out for pedestrians because they cross 'highway' to get to shops on other side
of the road.
I did better than I thought, hitting Hamilton and finding the side road and then on my way to Rotorua. About two hours of driving, and I figured I better stop. I couldn't see any of the countryside on this trip and I was tired. I got a hotel in Cambridge, home of racing horses. (photos at end of blog)
Next day, I drove to Rotorua. I must say, it was a bit disappointing. Don't know what I was expecting....maybe a big volcano or something, and the smell...everyone said it stunk of sulfer. I didn't smell anything when I approached the city, and then there were road works so the 'Welcome to' signs were down. Since highways constantly go through towns, I wasn't sure if this was Rotorua or a nearby town. I ignored the 'City Centre' signs until the highway signs said "Taupo". OOooops! The next road into town appeared and I turned off. The land is flat, so I was pretty sure this wasn't a volcanic centre....until I parked and walked along the streets and found the Rotorua information site and tourist trap.
I got my bearings and felt a bit better about Rotorua
Centre of Rotorua
All and any touristy thing you want to do can be booked here.
and why everyone says you have to visit the place. I was surprised that it didn't smell like rotten eggs until you get close to a hot pool or mud pool. Maybe the wind wasn't blowing yesterday because today the smell is quite potent in the streets of the town.
It was a thrill finding the hotpool in the town gardens. There wasn't much time to enjoy it in peace because a coach load of tourist arrived. That is the nature of this town...a tourist trap in many ways. I am avoiding the Moari cultural events and the pricey spas and the adventure packages. I was going to local spa outside of the city but missed the turnoff when driving to Mt. Taupo. Maybe that is a good thing. This is winter here, and flu season. The news had a map of swine flu hotspots (Wellington and other cities), which reminded me that I should be washing my hands often (and avoiding public pools)
The best thing I did on the day I arrived was go to the Redwoods just outside of town. I snapped too many photos of the trees and palms and patterns in the sky. Perfect energizer
Entrance to Museum and Gardens
The gardens are free, but typically if you see these symbols, you will be charged money to view or participate.
after a day of travel.
Today, with advice from locals, I drove to Mt. Taupo, snapped the view from the look-off, popped in to see Huka falls, then found one of many mud pools in the woods, free to view. Amazing! Now I get the wonder of Rotorua. I might even go to the museum today. And tonight I will pay the tourist fee to see kiwi and the big lizard. They come out at dark. After seeing so many kiwi on postcards and in tourist shops I think it will be worth going to a tourist site to see the real thing.
When I drove back into Rotorua this afternoon I came by the road with all the welcome signs and the two kilometres of hotels and spas.
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