Thanks for the memories New Zealand

A beautiful country that inspires ‘oooh’s and aaah’s’ with its stunning landscape and filled with some of the nicest most welcoming people you will ever meet.  It was a great, if not perfect, place to start our grand travel adventure and just get outside and have a good sweat from exploring almost everyday.  It is where I realized how truly easy and freeing it is to travel if you embrace the fun of just having a backpack (I now think I have too much!) and know that you will just figure it out.  I really do think we will be back sometime in the future, who knows when, and I can’t wait to explore the country once again.

Cheers!

Our last day in New Zealand

13 January 2014

Just before check out time we were on the road.  It was a day filled with practicalities as our first stop was at the Raglan Barber, which I have to say gave Adam a great haircut, and for $15 probably the most reasonably priced item we have found here.  So gents if you are in the area and need a haircut make sure to stop in here.  It was then back on the road to Auckland.

With straight roads and three lane highways for much of the drive it was a fairly quick trip.  We checked into our hotel, returned our rental car and took a stroll back to the hotel made some blog updates and before we knew it was time for dinner.

On our walk back from the car rental we noticed that there was an Indian take-a-way just a block or so down from the hotel.  When asked for hot or mild we said hot and were immediately warned that it would be very hot.  While walking back we were optimistically excited to consume some spicy food, but after the first bit, we both had a good laugh as you could tell there were some spices used, but by no stretch of the imagination would anyone call it spicy. Ah, New Zealand maybe one day you will learn the meaning of flavorfully and spicy foods.  But at least you have the cheap and tasty meat pies!

Today’s Drive: Raglan to Auckland via SH23, SH1 SH20

Accommodations: Jet Park Hotel

Cruising along the coast

12 January 2014

As it was our last full day of exploring the Island, we decided to end with a long way round scenic costal tour.  We start out with a stop at Manu bay to check out the surf.   From our view in the car it looked like a nice day with some small sets, but it was the interaction between those clearly just learning to surf and those that call this break home.  After watching a collision, a few near collisions and fins getting caught on the rocks close to shore, we made our way out of town and on to what we now call normal, gravel road.  As we climbed the hillside the sweeping views of the Tasman Sea had me calling out, ‘oh, look at that view; wow; dang, these cows have the best views!’ as we traveled along the coastline at the base of Mt. Karioi.  At the trail head to the top of the Mt. we made a stop at the Te Toto Gorge carpark to take in the views of the mountain and the rugged coastline below.  In looking down towards the Tasman Sea, much of the coastline reminded us of the Na Pali coast but with black sand.  DSC_2285DSC_2287Once we were done taking about a million pictures and just staring out at the coastline it was back in the car to make our way to Ruapuke beach.  As we descend down the mountain towards the beach, the views continued to stun.  Once we made it to the beach the wind was blowing and there was a light drizzle so we decided to eat our lunch in the car and take it the views.  Once the rain stop, I did jump out of the car just to walk on the black sand beach and was treated to some nice warmth between my toes as there was just enough sun to warm the sand (even through the clouds, the sun here still makes your skin feel like it is being scorched, the sun really does feel completely different) Just before we reached the southern end to the beach access, we were slowed down by some cows being herded down the road.  I am really going to miss the back roads of NZ.  DSC_2294At the southern end of the beach we walked out to the beach and went exploring along the coast.  I don’t think you can ever tire of seeing a huge wide black sand beach, it is just so foreign to your perception of a beach. DSC_2310

This beach was littered with Man O Wars.  And it was a close call as we took this picture a wave pushed this up the sand.  I don't think either of us have moved that quick!

This beach was littered with Man O Wars. And it was a close call, after we took this picture a wave pushed this up the sand. I don’t think either of us have moved that quick!

And to finish off our tour for the day we made our way to Bridal Veil Falls.  It was an impressive walk thru a dense tropical forest that opened up to endless views with the immediate surroundings as densely forested as the region we had walked thru.  It is pretty crazy to think that the hillsides in the distance that are now farmland or were deforested for timber once looked like the area we were standing in.  And well the waterfall was very impressive too!DSC_2313DSC_2316

After another fun day of exploration it was back to the campsite for bbq in New Zealand.

Today’s Travel: Raglan/Mt Karioi/Ruapuke/Bridal Veil loop with stops at Te Toto Gorge carpark, northern beach access to Ruapuke beach then down to the southern beach access via a dune pathway

Accommodations: Solscape

We found yet another misnamed sight

11 January 2014

Our first stop on our drive was at Tongaportutu Beach to see the Three (now two) sisters.  With our excellent planning we arrived about 45 minutes before low tide and easily made our way out to the beach.  Here you can only get out to the beach during low tide and can see that there is a stream in the small bay that feeds out to the sea.  The black sand beach and stunning rock coves and features made for many places to explore.  While walking towards the two sisters we were greet by two seagulls that were clearly trying to protect their territory.  So while hoping across the rocks and trying not to step in puddles I was also trying to tune out the horrible squawks and dive bombing seagulls.  It made for a lively mid-morning adventure.

The two sisters

The two sisters

 

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Heading back to the car and taking one last look at the middle sister

We then headed north along the beach walking along the glistening black sands that had yet to see footprints as the tide was still making its way out we came to an impasse as the river met the sea and the tide was still a bit too high to head further north.

Looking back as we headed North, you can spot the last sister in the distance

Looking back as we headed North, you can spot the last sister in the distance

On our way back to the car, we had to stop for a quick peak at one of the small caves we had noticed on our walk out.  While just a few meters deep it was fun to explore and see how the water had made for some cool formations.

Caves, our new obsession

Caves, our new obsession

It was then a few more hours of driving which included some sweet 90’s jams like Coolio’s ‘Gangsta Paradise’ (New Zealand really loves their old school music) which I’ve now decided should be my new karaoke song.  It was also an extremely scenic drive as we made our way up the coast and cut inland thru areas that were dense tropical regions and quickly transformed to pine tree forests.  It really is like visiting two or three continents as you make your way around the islands of New Zealand.

After passing thru the very tourist section of Waitomo Caves we made it to the Ruakuri Bush walk.  While it was a short figure eight loop, it was jam packed with unique and very different scenery around every turn.  From a cave stream entrance that as you walked towards could feel a 15 degree temperature drop, to a rock tunnel, to never ending streams and a platform over a cave stream providing lovely views all without having to tramp thru the water.  Out of all of the short walks we have taken this was one of, if not the best short walk.DSC_2236DSC_2242DSC_2246DSC_2256DSC_2257DSC_2258

Striking a pose since '85

Striking a pose since ’85 

We were surrounded by streams!

We were surrounded by streams!

Once we finished our walk it was back in the car to make it to our final town of our New Zealand adventure.  I can’t believe that it is already close to the end as I feel like we just arrived on the North Island and in a few days we will be in a new country.  Time really does fly when you are having fun!

In the late afternoon, we arrived in Raglan, home to one of the destinations of the movies Endless Summer.  It was only appropriate that we made a stop here as this adventure is a different type of endless summer.  And with the super quaint downtown, I think this just might be one of my favorite small towns, just behind Takaka in NZ.

Today’s Drive: New Plymouth to Raglan via SH3, SH39 to SH23 with a stop at Tongaporutu Beach (16km south of Mokau) see the Three (now two) Sisters and a Ruakuri Bush Walk (near the Waitomo Caves)

Accommodations: Solscape.  An eco-retreat located just outside the downtown area of Raglan just a few km from Manu Cove on top of the hillside, the views were a.maz.ing.  We spent most of our time on the lawn outside of the reception area looking down to the beach in Raglan.  The room we stayed in was a converted caboose, with views out to a small garden and the windmill farms out in the distance.  The only downside to this place was the facilities were much too small to handle the number of people staying there; that and the large group of 20-something Germans who like to ‘party, party.’

Looking out from our caboose

Looking out from our caboose

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The view from front lawn at reception.  Another great place to enjoy a glass of wine and play a game of gin

The view from front lawn at reception. Another great place to enjoy a glass of wine and play a game of gin

One of the unique flowers in the garden just outside our room

One of the unique flowers in the garden just outside our room

Porch sittin’ beer drinking kind of a day

10 January 2014

We wandered into town after lunch, just a nice 1.5km walk along the water to the wind wand, a large red wand that moves with the direction of the wind and even moves with the wind force, let you know you had made it to the downtown area.  After a short wander we then we headed back to the cabin to sit on the porch, plan/book some more for our trip to Australia and enjoy some Speight’s.  And once we ran out, it was another 1 km in the other direction of our afternoon walk to grab another 6 pack.  I guess if you are going to have a do nothing kind of day, this is the place to do it.

Adam in very serious planning and research mode

Adam in very serious planning and research mode

And once again, that evening we were given a peak at Mt. Taranaki.  It really does just stop you in your tracks and makes you stare.  And maybe it was all the beer drinking, as we forgot to go back and grab the camera.

Today’s Travel: Walking around New Plymouth

Accommodations: Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park

In search of the sunshine

9 January 2014

Waking up to the sound of rain, wasn’t what we had planned, but we just hoped that our first stop at Mt. Taranaki (Mt. Egmont) would be clear so that we could take in the views of the now dormant volcano.  As it turns out the weather just wasn’t on our side.  When we arrived at the visitors’ center, it was lightly raining and very cold; I only wished I had worn two pairs of pants.  We had planned for a longer hike but with the Mountain completely covered in rain clouds, the views from the other tracks were non-existent.  So we stuck with the Wilkies Waterfall and Dawson Waterfall walks.  The Wilkies Waterfall path was made for a rainy day.  The goblin like track with tree canopies dripping with moss had the feel of enchanted forest where some story book character might go and unsuspectingly meet a wicked villain, or the path Hansel and Gretel would take before stumbling upon the witches’ house.

As you enter the the park.   It is a stark circular contrast from fields to forest.

As you enter the the park. It is a stark circular contrast from fields to forest.

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Where's waldo?

Where’s waldo?

From the short Wilkies Waterfall out and back, we were back at the car park where we decided to keep warm and eat our PB&J’s in the car.  Then we head back out to the Dawson Waterfall, it was an easy 400m walk downhill on about a million steps, and per usual I found the muddiest puddle on the entire path to step right into.  There is something about me and puddles; my feet are just drawn to them.

My love puddles

I love puddles

 

Wet socks are not the business

Wet socks are not the business

But muddy sock and shoe aside the Dawson Waterfall was one of the nicest falls we have seen thus far.  The surrounding landscape really did make it a beautiful site to see.

Dawson Falls

Dawson Falls

As we headed north along the highway the clouds around the top of the Mountain, began to disappear and we could see the peak.  Once we caught a glimpse we knew we would have to go take a closer look.  After a quick check on the map we made the next turn up towards the North Egmont visitors center.  As we approached the car park, just our luck the winds blowing from south began to bring the rain clouds and the peak was coming in and out of view.  We quickly jumped out of the car and saw there was a lookout point only four minutes away, but when we arrived it wasn’t the view we were looking for it was of the city below.  So we continued on and noticed that there was another lookout only 4km away.  While this was a steady uphill climb, thankfully the DOC had created stairs, so it made it much easier to walk then the normal straight uphill we have become accustom to.  It is that or we really are in much better shape than when we left home, maybe it is a little bit of both.  We hiked up until we reached a small lookout point from which we were able to see the top of the mountain in between pockets of clouds.  It truly was an impressive site and is considered New Zealand’s version of Mt Fiji.

Mt. Taranaki

Mt. Taranaki (from the North Side)

We then headed off to our campsite for the night and were pleasantly surprised by our cabin.  We had a porch with chairs that overlooked the ocean.  Like the 80 year old couple we truly are, we ate chips drank beer and played gin rummy on our porch, if only I started to yell at the kids riding by to get off our lawn, it would have been complete.  That evening while walking to clean up our dishes we were treated to a view of the top of Mt. Taranaki.  Shrouded in clouds just below the peak, from this view you could see all the jagged edges of the top with just a few spots of snow.  Since we were right on the beach, we also had a half moon reflection on the ocean below that evening.  I could have just stayed on that porch all night.

Today’s Drive: Wanganui to New Plymouth via SH3 with stops at Dawson Falls on the South Side of Mt. Taranaki (Mt. Egmont) then to the North side of the Mt

Accommodations: Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park.  On a bluff that overlooks the beach, this cabin was well worth going over our budget for.  With a balcony and chairs, I think we just my plant ourselves here for a while.  Lucky for us we will be here for two sleeps, so we can take in the sunshine, gentle ocean breeze and sounds of crashing waves on the rocks below.

A rainy day drive

8 January 2014

While our drive today took us around the Tongariro National Park, we are just going to have to take everyone’s word that there are mountain ranges throughout the park.  After a decent mountain climb on the road all we could see were small shrubs and New Zealand flax (which look like large pre-historic bird of paradise), and all around dark grey rain clouds.  As we began our descent down the mountain the clouds started to break and we were treated to mostly blue skies and a new type of landscape.  The hillsides on this part of the island were scattered here and there with trees but made up mostly of grasses and the occasion small brush.DSC_2104DSC_2108

And soon enough we were in the town of Wanganui.  In many ways the layout and feel of the town reminded me of Nelson down on the South Island.  The downtown area hand many small shops and the outer part of the city had lovely homes.   Since it was lunch time we were on a quest to find some pies, with the downtown area much more suited for shopping rather than eating we began to head out of the downtown region and by chance stumbled upon a cute café called Kristy’s Café that was in a modern but made to look older barn.  And the homemade pies, with a delicious pastry puff hit the spot.  I enjoyed a chicken, apricot, corn and elbow pasta pie while Adam had the breakfast special pie.  And with money to spare in our budget we went crazy and had a slice of banana pie too.  Just around the corner we found a supermarket to pick up the essentials: beer, coffee and well dinner.  It was then off to our coastal campsite.  As we drove thru the town I could definitely see myself living here.

When we arrived at our campsite we were greeted with some good old hair whipping wind.  Which turned out not to be such a bad thing since we had planned on mapping out a tentative itinerary for Australia which is now less than a week away! After a delicious meal of steak and sweet corn we walked down to the beach and were treated to a pleasant surprise, a black sand beach!  Even with the clouds overhead and on the horizon the reflections on the stand were still outstanding.  New Zealand really does turn out some really great sunsets.DSC_2111DSC_2114DSC_2120

Today’s Drive: Turangi to Wanganui via SH 41, SH47, SH4 to SH3

Accommodations: Mowhanau Holiday Park.  Located just north of town at Kai Iwi beach, this campsite would be great on a warm summer day.  As it turns out when we arrived, the weather was not in our favor and we were told it is not usually like this, story of our lives when traveling – maybe it is us?  With the wind gusting we spent our time in our unit which was very nice, with its own mini-fridge, dishware a queen bed and even some room to move about easily.  And with an extra touch of class and a first, the bathroom had fake flower arraignments.

More geo-thermal exploration

7 January 2014

Well we couldn’t leave the area with making our way south to explore even more geo-thermal wonders.  So our destination for the afternoon was Taupo.  We first stopped in town to grab our now normal lunch when it is not PB&J’s, pies.  When then wandered thru the downtown area and stumbled upon some free wi-fi outside the local library with just enough service to let everyone know we had not fallen off the face of the earth.

At this point in the day the sun was now blazing and the next stop was obviously to spend a few hours outside at, Craters of the Moon.  DSC_2047As the name states, the area were littered with craters making it appear like a place you would find on the moon.  While similar to some of the areas we had seen the day before the vegetation that was able to grow next to the bubbling and steaming pools along with the colors of a handful of the craters made it worth the while. DSC_2050DSC_2062DSC_2071DSC_2074 And since we love lookout points we were one of the very few people visiting the park in the mid-day sun that made it up to the lookout.  But in true form of odd wonders, for a portion of the trek you were under tree canopies, reminding us a bit of the Rainbow Mountain hike were we experience such extremes.

The view from the top, the picture doesn't really do the views justice

The view from the top, the picture doesn’t really do the views justice

 

DSC_2080After our exploration to the moon it was a quick drive across the highway to Huka Falls.

Huka Falls

Huka Falls

 

A very powerful falls indeed.

A very powerful falls indeed.

The fast moving rapids finally provide a respite from the heat; that and of course finding the lady selling popsicles and ice cream.

It was then another 45km around the lake to Turangi.  We made a quick stop at the New World hoping to find Maggie’s Mix granola and another favorite snack BreadMan crackers.  After many unsuccessful stops we finally found the first store to sell Maggie’s Mix on the north island.  And like a true addict I spent $14 on granola, I seriously have a problem.

That evening we were able to FaceTime with my brother and his family.  It was lots of fun to see my niece and nephew and the expression on my nieces face when I told her I was able to have ice cream today because it was so warm was priceless. Plus when they kiss the phone, it really does make me miss them.  I am so thankful that we can stay connected even though we are 6,583 miles and 21 hours apart.

And after a warm summer day, the clouds quickly blew in and before we knew it, it was once again raining.  While rain and camping is never the best combination, the crazy clouds that blew in were worth the view.DSC_2097

Today’s Drive: Rotorua to Turangi with a stop in Taupo to see Huka Falls and explore Craters of the Moon

Accommodations: Turangi Holiday Park.  If you ever wondered where the 70’s went to die, this is the place.  A campsite that is in much need of some TLC and renovations (but the owners do call this out, so hopefully soon it will get attention) it did the trick for a one night stop over before we headed south for a west coast scenic coastal drive.

Mingling with the tour bus crowd

6 January 2014

Our first stop of the day, took us to the tourist must see stop of Wai-o-Tapu thermal park.  The site is famous for its day 10:15am Geyser show.  With no interest in seeing a 3rd grade science experiment (they pour a concoction into the geyser to make it go off every day right at the same time), we made our way thru the rest of the park.  Apparently it was us and about 6 other people, that we saw from a good distance coming or going from one of the points of interest, that got the memo that this was the best time to visit the rest of the park as you would have it all to yourself.  Our guidebook which gave us this great advice, with that notation alone, pretty much paid for itself.  The park was filled with geo-thermal oddities that you probably could not even fathom. DSC_1816 One of the highlights was the Champagne Pool.

Looking down at the Champagne Pool

Looking down at the Champagne Pool

With the lovely aroma of rotten eggs, which caused me to stay back for most of the time while Adam took pictures, was lined with the darkest/brightest shade of orange with the contrasting blue steaming water.  To the side of the pool the water spilled over taking some of the orange colors from the rocks with it and moved about with wisps of orange spread from one point to another in the wind.

Just the two of us at the pools'

Just the two of us at the pool

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Just to the left of the Champagne Pool

Just to the left of the Champagne Pool, ‘The Princess Terrace’

This entire hill is composed of the rock formation above

This entire hill is composed of the rock formation above. It is about 3 acres in size and has been forming for the last 700 years.

On the walk to Lake NgakoroOn the walk to Lake Ngakoro

 

Just in case you were thinking of touching the water or maybe doing the robot, neither is advised

Just in case you were thinking of touching the water or maybe doing the robot, neither is advised

So many unique thermal pools

So many unique thermal pools

Lake Ngakoro and its waterfall were probably my second favorite sites, the mint green waters it was just so odd to see, I would have never guessed Mother Nature could create such a color.  DSC_1892DSC_1900And as we made our way to the end of the trail we were greeted with another surprising pool of lime green at Devil’s Bath.DSC_1932

As we were leaving the Lake Ngakoro area, it appeared that the show was over and we started to see a trickle of tourist make their way around the park, must stopping for a second or two to snap a quick picture and not take the time to see the sight or ask us ‘is it much furtherer’ when the whole park is a very easy walk which probably takes an hour if moving from point to point at a quick pace.  When we came to the end of the second trail loop and arrived back at the Champange Pool, the Geyser show was clearly over, and the tourist were everywhere.  Since people watching is a favorite past time we took a few minutes to sit back and take in the sights along with the people.

And the crowds began to arrive

And the crowds began to arrive

While lurking in the background, I overheard one women state to her husband about the second trail loop, ‘oh we don’t want to go that way, it’s too far.’ What?!?! It is 35 minutes max to the end point of the trail to the visitors center (a random time, I know, but it was posted on the sign!) and we were already about 15 minutes from the visitors center.  So really tourists, you come all this way, pay $60+ for your family to enter the park and you don’t want to take a fairly flat well maintained trail an extra 20 minutes to see a mint green pool with views to the volcano out in the distance.  These are just things I will never understand, I mean I love being lazy as much as the next person, but when you can see some many amazing sights you MUST get out there and see it, even if means pushing yourself.

From the thermal park it was just a km or so to the mud pool.  A cool geo-thermal feature, the mud bubbles up creating a nice ‘plop, plop’ with and occasionally burst of mud shooting up to the sky.  It appeared that some of the pools were working in unison, creating a nice mud show.DSC_1948

Plop, plop, plop

Plop, plop, plop

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Looking down at the mud pool

Looking down at the mud pool

After the short stop at the mud pool, we made our way back up the road to for a hike up to the top of Rainbow Mountain.  DSC_1959As we were hiking up to the top of Rainbow Mountain, I couldn’t imagine being a tourist like the few we observed at the thermal park would didn’t want to take the time to explore more, in a country like NZ you miss out on sooo much if you just stick to the nicely paved trails and only take advantage of a small portions of those trails.  DSC_1961

We have found these on almost every hike and every time we just stop and admire

We have found these on almost every hike and every time we just stop and admire

Being here has truly inspired me to stay fit, if not for my own health, but to continue to explore the world when it is time for retirement number 2 (I always joked that I would retire at 30 and here I am, but I have now realized that it will just be temporary so I still have retirement number 2 to look forward too).  In true NZ fashion there were plenty of steep hill climbs, but very unique to this area there were spots where you would come out of a very tropical forest to a desert like area of shrub with no tree cover and very red dirt.  DSC_1970

Feeling the burn

Feeling the burn

Also at the beginning of the trail we were treated to a lovely view of a bright blue crater lake with the exposed rock behind showing off a few steam spouts and various shades of red.  DSC_1963Near the top the steam spots that seem oh, so far away were now on the same level, and we still had more of our trek.

And now so close

And now so close

But as I wanted to curse walking about another hill, I was reminded that thus far all of the hill climbs are quickly forgotten once we reach the top and the views are just breathtaking.  And here once we reaching the top, we were treating with great views including the mountain ranges that surround Lake Taupo about 60km away.  From this vantage point you could see just how smashed together the hillside was.  As you drive thru it looks like endless foothills but from up top you could really tell it was land masses crashing into one another to create the very unique and unusual landscape.

What I like to call, smashed together foothills

What I like to call, smashed together foothills

We found a shade spot and bench and then enjoyed our PB&J lunch.

Not a bad place for lunch

Not a bad place for lunch

DSC_1984DSC_1993TrigAfter lunching and taking in the views along with plenty of pictures we made our descent.  It was a quick 30 minute walk down and a little over and hour walk up and of course, we didn’t take a picture earlier of the two of us at the crater lake, so with a stunning glow we took one post hike (and no it did not make the cut!).

So after all the activity of the day, we made sure to drive back down the road to Waikite Valley thermal pools.  Described to us by the owner of the campsite, as the place he would go to, to enjoy the thermal pools in the area to avoid the giant tour buses we were sold.  Plus with a happy coincidence it was also on our list of to-do’s while in town.  There is no better way to recover from a good hike then soaking in some warm mineral water.  With our admission we had access to about six pools which had three different temperature ranges.  DSC_2010DSC_2011After a few hours of testing out all the pools, we then made a short walk up to the thermal pools’ spring source.

Calcium deposits created small 'lily pads'

Calcium deposits created small ‘lily pads’

 

DSC_2038DSC_2021It was nice walk with handful of informative plaques highlighting some of the unique mosses that are only found here, in Australia and South America along with the history of this spring has the largest discharge of boiling water in New Zealand.  At the top we were treated to periods of steam swirling over head with moments where the wind would change direction and you could see the royal blue water and places where the water was bubbling up creating and lighter shade blue.DSC_2029DSC_2035

As we drove back to the campsite, we heard the news that the Packers lost and the Chargers had won.  I was just glad that we didn’t have to pay another $5 for an hour of wifi to find out the score!

Today’s Drive: Around the Waikato region

Accommodations: Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park

Smells like sulpher, must be Rotorua

5 January 2014

With rain in the forecast we decided to make the day fairly uneventful and just do some catching up.  We started out with a walk thru Kuirau Park, just an average city park that is if you consider a park with steaming sulphur pools or bubbling pods of mud, just average.  As we walked thru there were a few pools that had popped up that either they had yet to fence off or had just installed some lovely orange plastic fencing (the kind you see around construction sites) to warn you not to touch.

Bubbling mud

Bubbling mud

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A steaming and stinky lake

A steaming and stinky lake

DSC_1797Our stroll was a bit hurried as the rains started so we headed over to Sulphur Bay to get a peek at the point in the lake where the thermal water meets the lake water.

Where the thermal and lake waters meet

Where the thermal and lake waters meet

While the contrast was cool to see, I was more amazed at the amount of black swans just hanging out on the lake.  We opted out of taking a walk along the lake and continued our tour around the Government Gardens where we spotted a street fair.  If you needed some cheap sunglasses or US sports team baseball cap, this was your type of market.  And with more rain looming out in the distance and feeling a few drops here and there we made our way back to the campsite to catch up on the oh so glamorous task of laundry, sorting thru pictures and catching up on writing after a few days of slacking!

By late afternoon, we (mostly me) were getting restless and the rain was starting to let up so we hopped in the car and headed south to Kerosene Creek to enjoy a nice thermal dip.  And after sitting around most of the day, a nice relaxing dip in the thermal creek was exactly what we needed.  Just a few kilometers off the main highway down a gravel road, the road ends with a barrier put in place by the timber company and a few meters away is a nice and toasty creek with a few small waterfalls as well.  We dropped our stuff by the side of the creek and stepped down a few groves in the rocks before it dropped you off into the ankle deep water.  We lounged about taking in the forest canopy overhead and were quite glad that is was a rainy day and only in the 60’s as anything warmer would make it very uncomfortable.  Seeing a small waterfall close by we meander over to the chest high water and took in a mini massage under the waterfall. Once we had our fill it was back to camp to start dinner.  On our drive back we did hear on the radio that it might get below -50 on the east coast this week, and while sitting in our bathing suits, still warm from the creek, we both just looked at each other and wanted to grab a jacket in sympathy.  So NJ/NY friends I will enjoy the sunshine a little bit more just for you, stay warm!

While making/eating dinner we had a great chat with a family who had recently immigrated to, the husband from the states and the wife an Aussie who grew up in Peru, after living abroad in various countries.  After talking with them about our travel plans and places they love we have now added Vietnam to our travel itinerary and learned about some great places to visit in Indonesia.  Thankfully we already have a lonely planet book that includes Vietnam and we have extra Malaria medication so logistically we are covered.

Today’s Drive: Exploring Rotorua or RotoVegas as the locals claim (the streets really are lined with Motels and most fast food chains you can think of our here: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, but odd enough no signs of a Pita Pit as they are pretty much everywhere here)DSC_2046

Accommodations: Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park