Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Pueora DOC Campsite

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, November 17, 2011

Before we went to bed Kate and I had spent about 20 minutes standing outside the camper slightly awestruck at the sight above us. We had crossed paths making sure we both had visited the toilet before the night's sleep as the little huts can be a bugger to find in the pitch black and inadvertently looked up to discuss what a clear night it was. It’s not often in your life you will see such a thing when you live in GB however, being in New Zealand at a campsite by a lake with very little in artificial light for a few miles around we were treated to a spectacle of probably about 1000 stars. Innumerable. When you see things like that it makes you feel very small, and not at all alone in the universe. The vastness of space around the twinkling spots of light made us stop and feel very pleased to be where we are. The campsite was relatively busy considering it was only a small site, but the stillness of the lake seemed to keep everyone quiet.

One thing I have to remember to do in future is make sure we go for a flat spot where possible as we were both thinking all night about what would happen if the car rolled forward over the poor unfortunate couple of Americans who had pitched their tent on the banks of the Lake. When I mentioned this to Kate, she did suggest it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Getting up on the alarm as we were time-bound this morning, we had some cereals and boiled eggs and hit the road as soon as possible. We trundled up the gravel track and over the humps in the road shaking the van to bits. A short 50km drive would take us to our morning meeting. Today, we would be seeing pretty cool geezer, or is that spelt Geyser. Think I’m right the second time.

The Wai-o-Tapo park is pretty badly arranged considering the first thing everyone wants to do is witness the 10.15am eruption of Lady Knox Geyser. You have to drive in to the main park entrance and park, get a ticket, and then drive back to a separate car park especially for the Geyser. It would make sense to sell tickets at the Geyser entrance. On the drive from Rotorua to the park we passed several of these Geothermal parks all offering similar views but nothing looked quite as broad ranging as what was offered at Wai-o-Tapo. It’s not cheap at $32 each, but it’s a pretty cool place to visit.

We got some seats near the front and waited for the eruption – I was trying to work out how they could set the Geyser eruption so clearly as being at 10.15am and was a little disappointed when the guide explained that the eruptions could occur pretty randomly during a 24 hour-ish spell however they introduce a natural product into the Geyser to kick start it at will. At least it wouldn’t be 40 minutes late like the Philip Island Penguins.

Nice bit of build up, long eruption of about 5-10 minutes and plenty of time to take photos. Kate told me off for being a bit rude to some dumbass girl who sat right in front of us in the middle of the path pretty much ruining the photo set-up I’d been pissing about with for 5 minutes. I only mumbled something about how some people could be so selfish and inconsiderate after Kate had asked her to move, and she did, but only by about 2 foot. Two reasons why I didn’t feel bad about having a whine while she was still in earshot.

1 – She deserved it for being rude enough to sit right in front of other people.

2 – She couldn’t understand us anyways.

After many photos were taken we went back to the proper park. The place is nicely laid out with a little map and you simply follow the numbers around to see all the different geothermal features like coloured mineral pools, mud pools, geysers, steam pools etc. Why then, do some people walk against the obvious route and do the numbers in reverse!? The order and the arrows are there for a reason, and it’s generally for making the experience good for everyone. The asses that walk 'against the flow’ make the paths crowded and make each feature more clogged with people than they should be.

We both really enjoyed the park even though it smelt like eggy farts all the way around. It’s one of those easy touristy things that requires so little effort it just makes your day simple.

After the park we started out towards Waitomo which is where we would be spending tomorrow. We haven’t decided as yet what we want to do when we get there but the place is set up to allow you to visit glowworm caves, do abseiling and caving or to do blackwater rafting. We were quite keen on the rafting but have been unable to book without the internet – we’re going to just turn up and hope for the best.

Before reaching Waitomo, I had a bit of a mare with the driving as a weather front moving in with some relatively strong cross winds across the rolling hills gave me no end of trouble. It’s like trying to drive a Kite in a straight line. We pulled into our planned DOC campsite half way to Waitomo for the night and not at all too soon after I had had a couple of scares when big transporters driving the other way and disrupting the wind flow shook the camper to buggery and sent the camper veering left sharply into the gravel, leaving me gripping tightly onto the steering wheel trying to right us. Arriving earlier than usual the place was empty. As I type this later on in the evening it is still empty and I do not now think it will fill up. We are parked a good 20 klicks from the nearest town, just in from the edge of a forest with nothing for company but a few birds. It’s a peaceful yet slightly uneasy feeling being so far from anyone else – but I’ll take the peaceful over the uneasy anyday.

Tomorrow evening we start heading south a bit quicker than we have been and I’ve got my work cut out with the driving. We have notched up about 900km in the last few days but that will only have left us 150km south of Auckland after traversing back and forth picking up the northern highlights and with another 900 to get us to Wellington by the 20th. Kate’s doing a stirling job running the map and campsite planning side of things while I drive along, and has only had the map upside down on about 4 occasions. She is also very defensive of ‘her’ kitchen and is insistent on doing that side of things. I am a lucky husband.
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