Trip Start Jul 18, 2011
29Trip End Aug 17, 2011
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Our last update was Saturday 6th so Sunday 7th we drove to the pancake rocks and blow holes - weather was rainy so not too great. We also stopped at the Buller Gorge Swing Bridge which is the longest swing bridge in New Zealand - pretty scary walking across because it was also wet and slippery and very wobbly - but we did it shouting "I'm a celebrity get me out of here!" WE also stood on the white creek fault line with was the epicentre of the 1929 earthquake which reached 7.8 on the Richter Scale. We proceeded on to Picton and got the ferry to North Island.
Monday 8th - we went around Wellington in the morning and then drove to Ohakune - not much going on as the drive was very long and we didn't have much time to time to stop off although we did manage a paddle in Lake Taupo
Tuesday 9th - Started the morning by Dawn taking a flying leap off her bunk bed (she moved the ladder and didn't attach it correctly) and bounced off the worktop before hitting the floor - has some lovely bruises to show for it but luckily wasn't badly hurt.
Drove to Whakapapa - looked at the volcano's one was very recognisable as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings - it was very icy and we saw our first real lot of snow although the roads were clear. We then drove on to Rotarua and visited the Waimangu Volcanic Valley - we did an hours walk looking at steaming pools filled with sulphur and other geothermal features. That evening we went to a Hangi Feast at the Tomaki Maori Village. Absolutely brilliant evening. Started off with the coach taking us from the Tomaki offices to the village, the driver was absolutely "barking mad" we had so much of a laugh listening to him tease a fellow traveller who was Australian and talk about the best rugby team in the world who are going to win the world cup this year and punctuating everything with a bib on the horn and the opening and closing of the doors. Kia Ora was said repeatedly and he told us what it meant in 64 different languages - his interpretation of it for the English was in the poshest voice he imagined we would speak "Spiffing" "Oh Hellooo" "top notch" etc etc and he also got us to sing the National Anthem on the way back
When we arrived at the village we were treated to the Maori Chief's welcome and challenge to the visitors to check they come in peace and not to make war - we were then allowed to enter the village and were shown various crafts and customs of the people. Next we were treated to some traditional singing and dancing which was absolutely superb and this was followed up by fantastic food cooked in the traditional way.
Wednesday 10th (today) we had a great day today even though a bit self-indulgent. We started with a guided tour of the mud pools in the Hells Gate Geothermal Park - Hells Gate was evidently named by George Bernard Shaw who when he visited said "it looks like I am entering the gates of Hell". We saw the bubbling mud pools and steaming sulphur pools and we also were given a hammer and chisel each and made our own wood carving of a silver fern which surprisingly does actually look like a silver fern! We then spent 20 mins covering ourselves in mud from the pools of the park in a mud bath and then finished off with s sulphur spa - very relaxing and indulgent. This afternoon after shopping in Rotorua we have driven to Waitomo ready for a visit to the gloworm caves tomorrow.