Day 7 - Rolling to Rotarua


Day 1 - Arrival
Day 2 - Raglan to Urenui
Day 3 - The Long Road to Levin
Day 4 - A Day with Granny
Day 5 - A Wellington Wander
Day 6 - The Tour to Taupo
Day 7 - Rolling to Rotarua
Day 8 - The Redolence of Rotorua
Day 9 - The Beach at Bowentown
Day 10 - Outtrip to Ohope
Day 11 - Meander over McLaren Falls
Day 12 - Mission to Mt. Manganui
Day 13 - Shopping the Strand
Day 14 - Wistful in Whangamata
Day 15 - Cruising to Coromandel
Day 16 - On the Road to Orere Point
Day 17 - Departure

Friday, March 22

Although our eventual destination was Tauranga, we weren't going to hurry there. We were loath to leave Taupo, so we found lots of things to do to delay the departure.

Richard got up early in the morning to try and take advantage of the Internet connectivity offered at the camp site. Unfortunately, after an hour of trying, he couldn't get it to work. It was closing in on 10am, which was the required departure time. But we managed to delay a bit longer with some camper maintenance - the various tanks were full (or empty) and needed to be tended to.

Caitlin hanging out, waiting for departure time. Alex continues to plow through her Narnia books to pass the time.
Remembering the trouble we had with the long waste water hose last time, we line up with the dump a bit farther away. Turns out it still wasn't far enough, but it drains faster.
After draining the waste water and filling the fresh water, Richard checks the tank levels... but the waste water still isn't empty! The truck is moved in close and water is pumped through the tanks to try and clear them out... to no avail.

It seems the dump site was on a bit of a slope, so the waste water tank wouldn't quite drain out... annoying, but hardly fatal. Running the sinks showed fresh water pouring out the waste pipe, so the tanks obviously weren't clogged, but they weren't empty, either. We declared the water system maintained, and moved on to... the gross part.

Caitlin's been watching the water change, but will soon retreat back into the vehicle when the toilet canister comes out. Richard dumps the toilet canister without event or mishap.
Richard pulls his gross face! Stacy makes a gross face too!
Caitlin contributes her look... ...and Alex too (it was her idea).

Finally it was time to leave the RV park. We headed into Taupo for our next stop - finding an Internet connection that worked. Some lunch would be nice, too. The local Internet cafe offered connectivity, but not for Richard's laptop. So it was possible to go through our email, but not send any pictures up.

A last look back at the RV camp site building. Stacy finishes her hot mail while the girls read their new books.
Caitlin shows off her new book. A quick lunch at the cafe.

And that was the end of the chores in Taupo, time to hit the road. Our plan was to pass through Rotorua and on the Whakatane - but the plans went awry (as many plans do). Flying down the highway, Stacy was reading about a thermal area called Orakei Korako - also known as the Hidden Valley. Suddenly, a sign pointed off the highway: 21 km Hidden Valley. We stopped and turned off. The drive was worrisome, not sure if we'd turned off the right way, or if they were the same place. The books talked about a bridge, and then suddenly, there was the bridge. And on the other side, a sign pointing to the hidden valley. We'd found it!

Crossing the bridge near the Hidden Valley. A happy Stacy - she found it!
Further down the road, we spy a river and something weird on the other side. Looking across the river at the thermal area.

Orakei Korako lies on the far side of Lake Ohakuri. Included in your ticket price is a boat ride back and forth across the lake. The thermal area includes geysers, steam vents, mud pools and terraces. Water coming up from the ground, full of minerals, slowly trickles across the rocks, depositing the minerals in colorful arrays.

The girls board the boat to cross Lake Ohakuri. Looking back at the resort area where the camper is.
Arriving at the dock on the far side, the base of the Emerald Terrace runs right into the water. The colors are the mineral deposits and algae. First stop, the diamond geyser, so called for the way the jet of water shatters into millions of sparkling "diamonds."
Walking across the Rainbow Terrace (on a boardwalk), this is a view down the terrace toward the lake. Looking the other way, up to the Cascade Terrace, one of the three scarps formed during a massive earthquake in 181AD.
The Map of Africa, a huge 60C (140F) alkaline pool. And algae grows in it! Up on the lookout, we look back at the boardwalk we'd just crossed.
Panning left of the previous shot, you can see the Rainbow Terrace. Further left, you can see the Cascade Terrace.
Close up of the Cascade Terrace. Above the Cascade Terrace is the Golden Fleece Terrace, the third of the three scarps formed in the 181AD earthquake.
Walking down off the lookout, we pass a small boiling mud pool... ...and on the other side of the path, a pool full of life, and bubbling with gases.
Back on the main path, a cave at the base of the Cascade Terrace is called the Mouth of the Devil. Noxious steam pours out of it, bubbling and gurgling comes from inside. Looking back toward the Rainbow Terrace, there's another angle of the Map of Africa thermal pool.
More mineral deposits along the path up to the top of the Cascade Terrace. On the boardwalks of the Cascade terrace, the girls pose in front of a boiling pool... that's very smelly.
A close up of the pool (taken with nose plugged). That's really boiling water, you could cook on it (but would you want to eat what came out?). Close up of the Golden Fleece terrace. Since the scarp was formed, numerous geysers have come and gone along its base. We counted nine different geyser holes.
Up on a rise, looking across the Golden Fleece, you can see the numerous geyser holes dotting the base of the scarp.   Can you see the Elephant?
Our first look at the Artist's Palette, the top most thermal area in the series. Walking along the paths towards the high view point of the Artist's Palette, we passed numerous holes along the path, burping steam.
From the high vantage point, a panorama of the Artist's Palette (1/5). It is made up of over 120 pools. Panorama (2/5), a number of these pools are near geysers, draining until no water is visible and then surging upward minutes later.
Panorama (3/5), looking at the big pool, which is actually a series of smaller pools flooded together. Panorama (4/5), you can see the right hand edge of the big pool, and a bit of another smaller terrace.
Panorama (5/5) the edge of the Artist's Palette, running right up to the jungle. A close up view of one of the boiling pools on the Artist's Palette.

Down past the lookout, another path headed into the jungle. This led to Ruatapu Cave, the Sacred Cave. Access to the cave comes down a very steep hill, with stairs switching back-and-forth to the bottom. At the bottom is Waiwhakaata, the pool of mirrors. Legend has it that wishes will come true if you make your wish with your left hand in the water, provided you tell no one what your wish is.

In the cave, mounted on the wall to the right is a plaque that reads:
"Waiho Te Riri Me Te Kino I Muri - Leave War and Strife Behind You."
Erected to the memory of Atama (Adam) Mikaere. His spirit hovers in this lovely cave where as a lad he guided and delighted visitors with his manly bearing. He rests in the far Libyan Desert killed in action 1941 aged 22 years. Also in memory of his brother Witatana Mikaere, killed in action 1941 aged 19 years.

At the top of the path, we get our first look at Ruatapu Cave. Coming down the stairs, we get our first look at Waiwhakaata pool.
The plaque to the memory of Atama and Witatana Mikaere. From the bottom of the cave, looking back up at the sky, you get an idea of how big this cave is.
Alex and Stacy near the bottom of the cave. Looking deep into the Waiwhakaata pool, which is a thermal pool, very warm to the touch.

The hike back out of the cave was the hard part, all uphill. Apparently you're not allowed to wish for an escalator out of the cave. Cleverly, at the top of the stairs is a bench to rest on.

The girls get a rest at the top of the hill coming out of Ruatapa cave. Following the path around away from the cave, we get another view of the top part of the Artist's Palette.
From the same vantage point, we can see all the way back across the lake to the resort. Further down the path, we spot the Kohua Poharu mud pools.
A long view of the Kohua Poharu mud pools. Close up of the boiling mud pots on the edge of the pools.
Behind the mud pools is a larger boiling water pool. Further around the path, we can see the water pool from the other side.
Along the path, we spotted a silver fern, the New Zealand national emblem. The girls on the path back to the thermal area.
Looking back at the path we walked down. Walking back toward the lake, we get a look at the top of the Rainbow Terrace.
Looking down from the top of the Cascade Terrace at the Hochstetter pool. Further along the path we can see the Map of Africa pool and the top of the Rainbow Terrace.
Further down the path is the Soda Fountain which had been dormant for seventeen years until abruptly in 1984, it filled with water and started boiling. Close up of the Soda Fountain. The water is almost too clear - its very alkaline, quite toxic.
The water from the Soda Fountain drains down a channel made from the silicates that precipitate out of the water. The stream continues under the boardwalk and joins the other streams that run to the lake.
A look over the edge of the Rainbow Terrace - while there's water running over it, most of what you see is frozen in place - hardened silicates. From the high vantage point, a look back up at the Cascade Terrace and the hot pools.
Still going down the path (yeah, it was a long path), we get a view of the top of the Diamond Geyser. From way up at the top of the path, we can just see the boathouse and dock at the lake.
And from the same point, across the lake is the resort (and the camper). Heading down toward the dock, Caitlin waits (rather impatiently, she's tired of walking).
Back on the boat, we head across the lake, back to the resort. Back on the other side of the lake, the girls get a look at a canoe used to cross what was then the swift running Waikato river in the 1930s.
Heading back from the resort, we pass the sign that let us know we were on the right track... ...and back over the bridge.
Along the way we spotted a herd of cows being corralled by a cowboy... on a motorcycle! The sign that started it all - no, not the Rotarua/Taupo sign, above it!

Our little detour was over, but it was after 3pm already. The girls were exhausted and were soon asleep in the back of the camper. Whakatane seemed unlikely - we wouldn't arrive until after dark. So a night in Rotarua was required. Checking the camper park guide, we found a site in Holden Bay, about 6km outside of Rotarua, "away from noise, crowds and sulphur smells." Sounds good to us.

Another perfect parking job in a the Holden Bay RV park. Caitlin finds a play area and tries out the slide, only to find out it lands less than a foot away from muddy river bank (that's what she's gesturing at).
Alex captures a picture of Richard and Caitlin playing on the swings. The girls got a snooze, why can't I have one too?

Unfortunately, they didn't mention that it was right under the approach path of the local airport. But all the aircraft were small, so by nightfall, there were no more flights. We had a quick dinner, followed by a peaceful sleep. The next day we'd do some exploring of Rotorua and then on to Tauranga.