New Zealand, Taupo – Adventures

Yes, you’ve got to do it, haven’t you? New Zealand is the place for them after all. Adventures.

Well, hubby did the white water rafting but I draw the line at being out of control in a dinghy. However, I did enjoy the jet boating. This is enormous fun and felt safe too.

An adrenaline ride is what you endure, mean enjoy haha. Managed not to scream unlike some and it was fun and interesting. The driver took us to Makoia Island which is majestic and now a wildlife area/bird sanctuary. We enjoyed many speed bumps over waves and some really good spins. Fabulous.

Next day, we treated ourselves to a seaplane ride to the White Island. They call it a Floatplane Adventure, and it was too.

Honestly, if you like venturing up to the sky, in a 1976 Austin mini, then this is for you. Well, this is what it felt like especially at first. A tiny craft shaking about the landscape. Thankfully it did settle down and we saw some magnificent views of dolphins tumbling in the sea.

Yes, we flew over New Zealand’s permanently active volcano, White Island. Something I won’t forget in a hurry! What amazing aerial views of the island’s crater lake and ever changing activities.

As if that wasn’t enough we continued across the Pacific Ocean to Mount Tarawera. It erupted in 1886 leaving massive craters and cracks.

During the experience we enjoyed magnificent views of the coast, national parks, volcanoes and the huge Kalangaroa forest. Then a gradual descent back to Rotorua via the Walmangu Volcanic Valley and lakes. Flipping amazing.

Rotorua, New Zealand

We came to Rotorua to visit the incredible earth forces so that’s what we did.

Te Puia

The first place, above, also has exhibitions about Maori culture, kiwi habitat, architecture and Maori arts.

Te Puia is an area of geothermal activity with bubbling mud pools and geysers shooting 30 metres, twice an hour. Mud from heated pools was used by Maori to treat ailments such as cuts and burns. The acidic mud contains minerals which rejuvenate the skin and is considered far more beneficial than bandages as they leave a scar. This encouraged Rotorua to become a spa town from the 1880s and today the mud is sold around the world.

The geysers are amazing too. As we came towards this park by car, we saw random steam billowing out of the ground amongst the natural landscape. They function from hot water deep beneath the earth. Narrow chambers where water becomes pressurised and heated up beyond boiling point. The mix of steam and boiling water is sprayed out as a geyser.

It is extraordinary to see this natural phenomenon. I quite like spotting the tiny, natural mud pool or small hole in a stream with tiny bubbles escaping.

Also, it is fascinating to see Maori folk carving greenstone, whale bones, wood, view art and weaving. Whalebone is highly valued because of the spiritual associations with the ocean. We watched a man intricately carve a whalebone and let us touch and admire his work.

Onwards, to observe the carved ornaments and adornments which are still worn today. These are considered a life force and not just decorative. They are physical representations of spiritual connections with the environment and their culture.

Seeing the carving is interesting because it is not only clever but different from anything you may have experienced before. Raga is a wood which is tough and durable so often used for weapons and tools. The totara tree is a pink/red wood and used for canoes, buildings and carving. The tree is found throughout New Zealand and when an important chief dies, they say ‘a mighty totara has fallen’.

This area is well worth visiting because it covers so much. Te Puia spans 70 hectares within the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley and contains many historical facts regarding individual geysers, mud pools, hot springs and silica formulations. Also, you may see the native Kiwi bird, wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. The historical facts and stories are extremely interesting and we had a great day and learnt a lot of cultural and local information too.

Wai-O-Tapu

Another interesting place which consisted of three walks and a geyser demonstration.

As you explore the area you see an amazing selection of volcanic domes, craters, cold and boiling pools of mud, water and steaming fumaroles. You also get a bit of a workout because there  are quite a few hills and steps as well. All good fun and you won’t see such incredible sights anywhere else.

What fascinated me are the colours in the area which are natural and due to different mineral elements showing nature as a wonderful thing.

Green – Colloidal sulphur/ferrous salts

Orange – Antimony

Purple – Manganese oxide

White – Silica

Yellow-primrose – Sulphur

Red-brown – Iron oxide

Black – Sulphur and carbon

 

 

Next post is all about fun, fun and more fun…

 

 

 

 

Hamilton, New Zealand

Pubs in Australia and New Zealand

Decided to stop for a few days at Hamilton. An average size town with a couple of good pubs. The first pub called The Londoner served up a decent IPA and amazing chicken fillet filled with spinach and soft cheese, pine nuts, mash and veg. Omg it was delicious. Hubby, I might add, enjoyed a London Pride real ale.

Onwards to The Local Taphouse for a few IPAs and a look at their local CAMRA mag. Well obvs not CAMRA (thank goodness) but an organisation called soba… Society of beer advocates. Much better title, in my humble opinion. Love the irony. Somebody has a sense of humour.

We were advised that a decent pub doesn’t exist in Aus and NZ by many people. Nonsense. We’ve found some smashing pubs in both countries. Had some wonderful beers, accompanying food and friendly locals. They aren’t all boxy sterile places but great places. Funnily enough the first pub was awful. A great big soulless hall type building serving beer in stupidly small glasses. Oh dear, I thought, this is going to be a long, arduous trip. After that we found loads of decent places and it’s been a tremendous trip.

The Aussie and NZ pub is great. You heard it here first or should I say thirst?

Hamilton Gardens

This place is a lovely surprise full of beautiful flowers, trees, shrubs and ideas. Ideas? Yes, the landscaping is innovative and at the moment they are working on a Surrealist garden.

The area has a collection of gardens from all over the world including Japan, India, China, Italy and of course, the best, England. Exquisite and so well done.

Unusually, they are not known to be botanic gardens but gardens that tell a story across all cultures. This concept was started in the 1980s by Hamilton Gardens director Dr Peter Sergel and the concept was enthusiastically received by the local community.

Of course, the gardens were originally a rubbish dump and the area was passed to the Hamilton City Council During the 1960s for opening as a garden for the public. The site is now a wonderful 54 hectares, free to visit and worthwhile visiting.

 

Ninety mile beach, a massive tree and travelling…

Before today’s travelling and exploring we sat on the local beach. The beach was extremely busy as you can see. Actually, it was completely deserted. I’ve never, ever been on a completely deserted beach before. It’s a Sunday and I’m wondering where everyone is?

What is amazing is the weather is warm and sunny. In fact, cloudless. Can understand why people don’t go on a beach like this at home (England) as may be chilly, but I’m shocked here because it is so beautiful and warm. Took off my shoes and socks and splashed in the sea shouting with joy like a kid.

The beach is aptly named the 90 mile beach and you can see for miles and miles. It goes from Kaitaia towards Cape Reinga along the Aupouri Peninsula and is on the western coast, north of the North Island and really only 55 miles long. The beach is used as an alternative route to the road when it floods (State Highway 1).

Here is a fun fact for you…During 2013, Jeremy Clarkson drove the length of the beach in a Corolla, with other crew including James May for the TV programme Top Gear. Bet that wasn’t a skid free journey. We did see a couple of wagons go along the beach. They waved to us as they raced by and we waved back hoping they hadn’t broken into our car which was languishing in a deserted car park. They hadn’t.

 

Also, we popped along to look at the dunes but didn’t succumb to bodyboarding. We were shocked at the size of the dunes. The dunes appear much like a desert landscape. Quite extraordinary.

 

On the way to the ferry at Kohukohu we stopped for lunch. Had a yummy chicken salad Sammie which was delicious. As I was eating, four sparrows were standing watching me enjoy my lunch. The owner proclaimed how she’d done everything to ‘get rid of them’. Told her I wasn’t complaining and just surprised how tame they are here. Sparrows in England, don’t come anywhere near humans. Birds are more prevalent and colourful here too and I enjoy watching them flutter around even if they are hoping to eat my lunch.

The road trip along the coast was enjoyable although the bendy roads can be tedious. On the way, we stopped at Waipoua Forest to look at Tane Mahuta ancient tree which has been standing for 2000 years. We cleaned our shoes, as requested on a rather grand machine, went through the forest to a clearing and there it is, the most huge tree you’ve ever seen with a Maori lady to welcome you. It is the fourth largest tree in the world. Quite spellbinding.

The tree is a remnant of the ancient subtropical rainforest that grew in the North Auckland Peninsula. This giant tree is the most famous in NZ and was discovered in 1924 by workers who were surveying the State Highway 12 road through the forest.

 

After this we stopped to take photos of the panorama views on the way to Baylys Beach and eventually arrived early evening at the camp site. We stayed in this cute wooden hut with terrace. Dumped our cases and walked to the local cafe Sharky’s. We enjoyed a delicious roast lamb dinner with lots of much needed vegetables.

After our humongous dinner, we sat at the bar and chatted to the locals about where we’d been on our travels, where they’d been, what we did (travel atm), local haunted hotels, etc, etc, and it turned out to be another interesting and fun evening.

More travelling tomorrow and thanks for reading my blog.

Where two oceans meet… New Zealand

We decided to stop at Paihia despite a disparaging opinion in the Lonely Planet NZ book. It suggests going to Russell, because it is prettier. Although it is pretty, we found Paihia pretty too and more vibrant. Plus it had a good craft beer pub. (Haha)

Paihia is a bustling village and significant, due to being the gateway of the Bay of Islands. It is an attractive and well set out village with an array of shops, cafes, restaurants and a barbers that is not open when it says it is! Yes, hubby is desperate for a haircut.

However, on the plus side, the village has, according to the sign, the most scrumptious ice scream establishment for the last 18 years. As I discovered, if you ask for a one scoop cornet, you are given a two scoop cornet and it is huge although considered ‘small’. Oh dear, I only wanted a small ice cream. Nevermind haha. Crikey, it was tasty.

A splendid sea view from the craft beer pub called Thirty30 Craft Beer bar is always very much appreciated. We both devoured the most delicious seafood chowder with thick brown bread. After this bowl of deliciousness, and a long day touring, I had an early night.

Before our road trip, the next day, we popped along to Waitangi Treaty Grounds to view the giant Maori sea faring vessel. The vessel signifies the founding of modern New Zealand. It is a certainly an interesting experience to explore this part of New Zealand.

We then drove towards the famous (top of New Zealand) Cape Reinga. This is where two oceans meet; the Tasman sea and Pacific.

As we were travelling to Cape Reginga, I booked a room at Awanui about 50km away. Must mention that our traveller mobile has been a great success for booking last minute accommodation as we tour around NZ. This village turned out to be a quiet place which looked a bit wild west but the motel was great, Large room with bed, lounge area and kitchen. The owner left a box of chocolate almonds for us. They didn’t last very long. Of course, I fell for the ‘last room available’ note on the internet. Only three other lots of residents were staying and they turned up late. My panic to book turned out to be unnecessary although it was a Saturday so you can’t be too careful.

The drive to Cape Reinga took about 80 minutes and was worth the trip. Great scenery, little traffic and not a cloud in the sky. Always helps when you have sunny weather, don’t you think?

Cape Reinga is an important area because according to Maori legend, this is where a person’s spirit comes after death and departs for their eternal home. We found many wooden boards explaining historic facts relating to Cape Reinga, as you explore the site, which makes the climbing and walking even more worthwhile. As you walk around this magnificent area it is compelling to look at the panoramic views where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean come crashing together.

The solitary iconic lighthouse is also a serene and spectacular vision and is said to be where the point of the colliding oceans swirl together. Amazing!

Well worth a visit and the historical details are interesting. Also, the area is a recognised home to many threatened plants and animals such as the tiny orchids and endangered flax snail.

Thanks for stopping by 🤗 .