I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Saturday 17 February 2024

The BIG One 2024 - New Zealand - Days 14, 15 and 16

Wednesday 14th February - Rotarua

An easy day today.

We set off to the McLaren Falls, no problems with parking today!  We had a lovely coffee in a cafe and walked to the falls which were only a 20 minute round trip.  This fall is a tall skinny one.  On our way out we found a second fall which was wider and tumbled down rocks - I can imagine that it would be pretty spectacular after heavy rain.  We saw a guy swimming in one of the pools.

A local couple we had met at the falls asked us where we were going next and when I said the Blue Spring at Putaruru, she said that the car park had been closed but there was another way only the locals know about. We set off only to find we were scuppered by a large log across the track!

We stopped for lunch beside a large stream and ate our sandwich on a picnic bench.  The stream was obviously popular with the local youngsters as cars kept arriving and disgorging its occupants who disappeared to a pool to swim.  Some were braver and jumped off an obliging log across the stream.

We should have been freedom camping in Rotarua but as I was still not feeling well we booked into a camp site for two nights so I could use my sleep machine.  I wasn’t ready for two nights of no machine.

Thursday 15th February - Rotarua

We were booked in for a visit to Hell’s Gate this morning, a geothermal spa.  It says on their website “the healing properties of the geothermal mud and sulphur mineral water have been used by local Māori  for over 800 years.  Open and clean your skin by lathering it in our unique mud before exfoliating with a soak in the sulphur spa.  Your body and soul will feel revitalised after this soothing experience “. Needless to say we didn’t do that though we did see people partaking of the “waters”.  The smell of sulphur hit us as we got out on the van and it wasn’t very pleasant.  We started off on a guided tour but the guides voice was so monotonous we gave up after about half an hour.  It is quite fascinating watching the earth bubble and the steam coming off the water.  One of pools was 98 degrees centrigrade and had a ph balance of 1, now that didn’t mean much to me but when the guide said that if you put your hand in the water it would strip the skin off it straight away!!  We followed the guide as far as the hot water falls which is the largest hot water fall in the southern hemisphere.  Apparently the Maori warriors would, when coming back from fighting, cleanse themselves in the mud then shower off under the waterfall.

In the 
afternoon domestic duties needed to be attended to, the washing doesn’t do itself.  We used the tumble drier for the undies but hung the rest out to dry which didn’t take long.

4pm saw us shut the van up and walk to meet a coach which would take us to Te Pa Tu, a reconstructed Māori village. The meeting point was a bit further than we thought but they very kindly held the coach for us.  When we arrived at Te Pa Tu we had the traditional welcoming ceremony with the warrior throwing down a welcome gift and daring our chief to pick it up.  I guess once upon a time a stranger would have been petrified at the sight of a Māori warrior with his eyes bulging, tongue hanging out and making an extraordinary noise!

We then three lessons on Māori culture high we found very interesting, at each station we were given an hors d’oevres which I don’t think were strictly Māori as one had feta cheese on it!  It was then time for the entertainment, singing and dancing and finishing off with a traditional Hakka.  Dinner was included in our evening and we shared our table with two US couples who were very interesting.  One couple seemed to do almost back to back cruises! The food was a fusion of varying cuisines but it really wasn’t to my taste though the pudding was lovely!

The coach driver very kindly dropped us off at the site which made our lives a lot easier.

Friday 16th February - Taupo

We needed to go to the pharmacy this morning to get me something for my cough, I was given some natural jollop - I only hope it works.

We drove out to Okere Falls where we watched white water rafters.  The first boat did it perfectly, the second lost two crew but the third overturned and lost all its crew - terrifying but they were all screaming with pleasure!  If you look closely at the photos you will be able to see two legs in the air!

We were going on a duck ride in the afternoon so we drove back into Rotarua and tried to find a parking place.  Government Gardens had been suggested to us and we got right to the end with nowhere to park when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a young chap put his thumb up and went to remove a couple of cones.  Richard backed up and in we went - it was free too!

We had decided to have lunch out and found a place close to the duck depot.  It was called Mekong Buffalo but we weren’t sure if the food was strictly Vietnamese.  Richard had a curry and I had a wonderful sizzling dish of rib eye steak and vegetables.  I’m not really into spicy foods but this was seasoned to perfection for me.  

We went over to the duck depot only to be told that we would be the only two on the trip!  They did ask if we could move it until tomorrow but I explained that we would be out of town.  So off we set.  The duck is an original 1944 WWII amphibious landing craft and was very noisy on land and, sadly, we could hardly hear any of the commentary.  Once we got onto the water it was a different story and it was very peaceful and we could hear the commentary - I will call it a commentary but it was really the driver just chatting to us!  We went into three lovely lakes before back into town and, once again, being dropped off at Kiwi.

We then drove the 50 miles to Taupo

1 comment:

  1. Reading you were going to the Duck depot and was expecting the beaked type not wheeled