Feb 19 – Taupo
Breakfast was as usual, oatmeal and coffee. We got to sleep in the tent last night since it wasn't rainy and it was a welcome change. It did mean that we had to dry all the condensation out of it. Once we packed up we headed off to see Huka Falls which had been suggested to us by Dan and Gabrielle as well as the receptionist at the holiday park. While the falls aren't particular high there was a massive amount of water flowing over them making them quite spectacular. Obviously the Kiwis have harnessed the awesome power of these falls with a dam downstream that provides 15% of NZ power. We checked out the falls from either side of the river and took a bunch of photos. We were planning on exploring Taupo today and on our way back into town from the falls we saw some signs for Reid's Farm. We stopped to check it out and it seemed to be a riverside campsite but we couldn't find anywhere that said the cost. We continued on to the Taupo i-Site and asked them about this place. Turns out it's a free camp ground, Sweet!! We got some info on a geothermal site called Craters of the Moon which had also been recommended to us by Dan and Gabrielle. We wandered around town a little bit then picked up some groceries before heading back to Reid's Farm. We enjoyed our lunch by the river with a beer in hand. It was still gorgeous out so we figured we should take advantage and check out Craters of the Moon while we had a nice day. We drove up to the thermal area and paid the $6/person entrance fee. All the workers are volunteers and the fee is to keep up the facilities. Previously it was free but there were a fair number of break-ins in the carpark. We had an hour long walk along a well marked path. We saw bubbling craters, mud pools and steam vents as well as explosion craters and colourful soils. It was pretty hot out but you could still see steam rising. We enjoyed the walk and seeing the thermal area but we were ready to head back to the river for a dip and a beer. We got back to the farm and set up the tent, then took our camp chairs down to the riverside. The wind cooled us off quickly so we didn't end up going for a swim, just read and enjoyed the scenery. We noticed the river level started rising quite quickly. We think this is due to the closing of the dam at the end of the river. We had to keep moving our chairs back from the water. Once the sun left us we made our dinner then just relaxed peacefully by our campsite for the rest of the evening.
|Craters of the Moon|
|Bubbling Mud Pools|
|Craters of the Moon|
Feb 20 – Taupo and Rotorua
The day didn't start off too nice, it had rained last night. We eventually got dried out and packed up. The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds. We started towards Rotorua but stopped off at a glass blowing studio. They were charging $5 a head to watch the glass blowers which I thought ridiculous as you can see them for free in Victoria. We just had a look around the show room and while there were some lovely things most were out of the common persons price range. Further along the highway was Aratiatia Rapids. There was a hydro electric dam at the start of the rapids and when we arrived there was only a tiny trickle going through. We had arrived with perfect timing as they open the gates for about 15min 4 times a day and it was almost time. It took only seconds for water to start raging through and only minutes for the rapids to fill to their natural capacity. It was fascinating to see the water over come all the rocks in the ravine. The gates were closed back up and it took no less time for the water to reduce to a trickle. At this point the sun had come back out so we decided to return to Reid's Farm and go for a swim. After a refreshing swim and bath we had some lunch. Our sun had hidden it's face behind some large grey clouds so we decided to try our drive to Rotorua again. It rained on us a bit on our drive and we had some window wiper malfunctions, which Beau fixed easily. We decided to check out Kerosene Creek, a free hot water steam about 20km outside of Rotorua. We chilled out in a pool area below a short waterfall for a little while. The creek was quite hot and a little bit smelly. We chatted with kiwi sitting next to us for a bit then we all decided we had had enough of the heat. Back at the car park we were approached by two guys who were hoping for a ride back into town. We were happy to oblige and gave the Dutch guy and Canadian a ride. We stopped into the towns i-Site, which is also where we let our hitchhikers out, in hopes of getting some info on what to do in the area. Unfortunately the i-Site also doubles as a booking agency and was very busy. We picked up some pamphlets and took a walk about the town. We walked through the central park which is also a thermal area. There were some smelly, bubbling lakes and mud bogs. We also walked by the lake which was quite pretty. After our walk we headed to the McDonald's for wifi and then to Pak 'n' Save for some essentials which included wine. We had a little trouble getting back on the road as there kept being medians in the way of our turns! We finally got where we wanted to go, after a few U turns, which was a lovely DOC site 15min out of town. I was quite thankful for the distance as Rotorua has quite the sulphurous smell. The DOC site was on Lake .... and was very full when we arrived. We got lucky with a primo spot at the end right next to a grassy area for the tent. We made some tinned potato and bacon soup for dinner with loads of extra veges added. Later while enjoying drinking chocolate and cookies we heard some rustling in the woods behind us. I shone my light over and we saw several wallabies! We weren't entirely sure what they were at first but it was obvious they weren't possums with their kangaroo like hind legs. We had confirmation later that they were indeed wallabies.
|Aratiatia Rapids without water|
|Aratiatia Rapids with water|
|Bubbling Mud Hole|
|Steamy lake in Rotorua central park|
Feb 21 – Rotorua
It was a beautiful morning. We decided to stay another night in Rotorua since we had such a gorgeous day and chill by the lake. We had to nip into town for of course beer as well as fill our water bottles. While Beau went into Pak 'n' Save I went to McDonald's and updated my blog. We were happy to head back out to our DOC site, Rotorua has quite the stinky sulphurous smell. At the campsite almost everyone had left. We drank a couple of beers in the sunshine then went for a refreshing dip in the lake. After our swim we made up some guacamole to have with chips for our lunch. Once we started eating the heavens opened on us...noooooooooooo. Gone was our beautiful sunny day. We took refuge under the covered cooking area. The rain stopped and the sun came back out for a little bit. We made a judgement call so we packed up the tent once it dried. We figure if the weather cleared we could always reset up the tent. Glad we made that call since it rained on and off the rest of the afternoon. We concocted a way to set the tarp up with the car to give us more of a rain shelter. That evening the rain stopped but we didn't have high hopes for throughout the night.
|The lake looking right|
|The lake looking left|