Hot Stuff

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hiya, quite a laid back entry this time guys, nothing to over strenuous, perfect bedtime reading some might say.

Our drive up to near Rotorua was beautiful as ever alongside Lake Taupo and we decided to stop and pick up a picnic to have at the lakeside as a refresher but then out of the corner of his eye Steve spotted a Pizza Hut sign. Shamefully, after much arm tugging and feet stomping I agreed we could have a lunchtime buffet.  Surely its unemployed people on a budget like us that it's designed for anyway?  Now I’m no fan of the Pizza Hut buffet in England but here I have to say it was great, rather than just Pizza we got salad, chips and desserts all as much as you can eat.  Fascinating stuff I’m sure you’re thinking, you have to understand that any meal that isn’t noodles for us is worth writing home about, but in the interest of not boring you to tears I’ll move on.

We stopped off at Huka Falls which was a massive torrent of water exploding out of Lake Taupo into the river.  It’s the fastest moving water I’ve ever seen and looked like the Lake was being violently sick, but in a really pretty way.  Next stop was only supposed to take a couple of minutes, it was at a honey bee museum/shop and we only stuck our heads in as it said 'Free Entry’, but  instead we were in there for about an hour and a half unable to tear ourselves away from learning more about bees.  At the risk of not sounding hip and cool I have to say that I have a new found respect for honey bees and even Steve couldn’t hide his fascination either.  The bee’s kept us chattering away for the rest of our journey to the campsite that night where we sat down by the side of a perfectly still lake wrapped up in the duvet playing cards until all the stars you can ever imagine came out and reflected into the lake in front of us too.  We counted shooting stars till we fell asleep and neither one of us even thought about having dinner after the amount of Pizza we had eaten.

Up early the next morning we made our way to a place called Wai-o-taupo, a place where there is a lot of geothermic activity and the whole landscape is affected.  We went early to make sure we were in time for the Lady Knox Geyser that erupts once a day and took our seats in eager anticipation.  We took three of our cameras to make sure we captured it right.  I found out the new camera can take 6 photos a second on it’s multi take function, wish we knew that with the dolphins, so I was ready to capture the moment of eruption while my other camera was set to video and Steve was doing something fancy with his.  I was expecting a massive rush of water about 20 meters in the air and then it to fall to the ground again so as soon as the water started coming I held my finger down and let the camera do all the work.  In fact it did shoot up that high but what I wasn’t expecting it to stay there for the next hour.  Inevitably we got carried away and thanks to the magic that is digital cameras and multi-take we ended up taking nearly 500 photos, don’t worry we deleted about 495 of them!

Surprisingly once we started our walk around the rest of the geothermic features we still had space on our memory cards to take photos of the bizarre landscapes.  None of the photos really are that interesting to look at as they leave out the key factor, the smell.  I have never smelt anything so mind numbingly horrendous in my life.  I couldn’t even have imagined that smell could be so powerful and have such an adverse affect on my whole body.  Some areas were worse than others but on the whole I was choking and retching, not to mention being unable to stop pulling the most twisted faces in an attempt to save my nose from this curse.  Despite this though it was very entertaining and I have never been to anywhere in the world like it before so felt like I was rediscovering nature in some way – an evil side of nature that is defiantly not people friendly.  The Champagne pool was easily the most impressive feature, a 60m wide by 65m deep pool of boiling water with steam pouring out of it and bizarre orange and turquoise colorings making it look anything but natural.  On the way out we stopped at the bubbling mud pools too which were fantastic.  If ‘The Bog of Eternal Stench’ from the Labyrinth movie ever existed, it was here.  Big bubbles of mud filled up and erupted stinky gases at us, but just looked so entertaining it was impossible to leave.  Some waited for a build up and fired mud meters up into the air and some just constantly bubbled away making amusing farty noises.

We camped in Roturoa town that night which surprised us for how much we enjoyed it, the local park could have been mistaken for any other at first glance but once you started to look more closely you could see that where there would be flower beds in other parks, this one had craters of steam and mini mud pools.  A perfect idea for encouraging you to jog in the park to keep moving away from the smells!  In the main town they also had a few scattered pianos around with signs on them encouraging people to take time out to just sit and play for a while as a bit of free entertainment – just charming.

We planned a long drive up to the Coromandel Peninsula stopping at a beach in Tauranga for lunch but when we arrived in Tauranga it was so beautiful and laid back that we decided to stay there for the night (and another one after that).   We were spoilt with powder white sand beaches and rocky islands to climb on so we spent the afternoon exploring and swimming in the waves until we spotted a few enormous crabs just by our feet in the water.  Thanks to our handy new waterproof camera we were able to have a good look at them and assess the danger before making a quick dash to the beach again to save our toes.  For sunset that night we decided to climb ‘The Mount’ a pretty steep hill (dramatically called a mountain) right at the end of the peninsula.  We were huffing and puffing our way up hill feeling very unfit as we were overtaken by, what seemed like, all the locals in Tauranga jogging up and down the Mount before their dinner.  Really must make more of an effort to get fit, there is no pride in being lapped by numerous middle-aged joggers.

We were camping again next to a hostel with great facilities so we played badminton and spent another lazy day on the beach enjoying a really sunny hot spell for a while before we finally made a move up the peninsula to the beautiful Coromandal region for more beaches and volcanic activity combined.  More on that shortly….

Lots of Love,

Amy and Sulphurous Steve

P.s Honey Bee’s are great!
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