A Travellerspoint blog

Rotorua - Day One

all seasons in one day 8 °C

We woke up with just enough time to head over to the Aratartia Dam to see the formation of the rapids. It was really neat to see a dry riverbed suddenly fill with raging rapids in a matter of seconds. Once we watched the floodgates close and the riverbed return to normal, we headed back to Taupo, which has joined Queenstown on our list of ‘Just Not That Into’ places. Nothing caught our attention and the cold weather is making us long for the hot springs so we piled back into the van-a-ram and drove to Roturua. However, we had to stop at the Prawn Farm on the way out of town. It was quite…interesting…and mostly cheesy, with Pepe the Prawn’s twin as its spokesprawn.

Once we reached Rotorua, we popped into the iSite where we lucked out big time. Not only did we get some really good deals on the tourist activities we wanted to take part in but also we decided enough of the campervan and took advantage of the room filler rate at one of the nice hotels. The hotel was awesome and even had free guest laundry which we took advantage of. Our room was (or just felt like it) huge.

We had decided to take part in the Maori Hangi tonight so the bus picked us up at 5.30pm to take us to the marea (meeting house). Once our entire group had been assembled, our guide met us and gave us a briefing on how to conduct ourselves. We were also introduced to our chief, an American, who would be representing all of us. Once out front of the marae, the tribe who had to decide if we were friend or foe greeted us. Once we were accepted, we headed inside for the Maori concert where Tom learned the Haka and Chrissy learned the poi dance.

After the concert, we headed for the hangi that was delicious! Chrissy indulged in all the seafood available while Tom steered clear and sampled the various meats cooked in traditional fashion. After dinner, we boarded some caterpillar type buses that took us to see the Pohuti geyser, which was spouting off, but unfortunately the steam was so thick we couldn’t see it clearly. Instead we settled onto the hot rock steps and sipped hot chocolate and heard some more history of the local Maori. When we got to back to the hotel, we watched a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean before heading to bed.

Posted by tc2009 03:42 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Taupo

overcast 9 °C

What a way to wake up! Waves crashing on the shore and seagulls flying around. Tom found a Bradshaw Estate Winery in the GPS but when we arrived it was unfortunately turned into a kindergarten. We headed back to Hastings where we wandered around for a bit before heading up to Napier. Once there, we checked out all the Art Deco around and the local museum that was housed in an old building and made use of the unfinished basement. We even had tea at Esquires Coffee, the same one that was in Kelowna!

Having had enough of earthquakes, we decided to continue north to Taupo. The drive was uneventful except for the large wind turbine farms around and the gorge we drove thru with the train following suit on the other side. It was quite evident once we had reached geothermal area, the stench was horrible and the large billows of steam coming from the ground were pretty good indicators. We stopped by chance at a lookout where we saw a magnificent waterfall, which was neat.

Once in Taupo, we lucked out again and discovered they too had a specific free-camping area set up! As it was later in the day, we headed straight there and settled in. It’s right alongside a pretty little river with lots of crazy ducks that are excited to see people.

Posted by tc2009 03:40 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Hastings

semi-overcast 10 °C

Today we are heading off to Napier, home of the 1931 earthquake. Joy. However, we had to first make a necessary stop at Prenzel. For all those back at home, words cannot describe Prenzel other than you need to taste it to believe it. Mmm delicious! After Prenzel, our next stop was the outlet stores at Otaki. Unlike the mass mall frontage of Seattle, these were actually quite good discounts and lined along the street like many of the main street frontages we have seen on our journey. Tom picked up a Billabong hoody for $50NZ, regular $130NZ. Chrissy, surprisingly, left empty handed.

We have discovered the source of the horrible odour emitting from the fridge and it has been appropriately disposed of and the entire fridge has been cleaned from top to bottom; makes the drive much more enjoyable when one isn’t gagging all the time. The drive to Hawkes Bay is pretty uneventful, apart from the Oreo cows, which are thrilling.

We have decided to stop in Hastings tonight and upon checking in at the isite, discover that the district has allocated a section of beachfront for free camping. Bonus!! Picking up some groceries at the Pak N’ Save, we are introduced to the newest fad – a scale which weighs and prints off a sticker for any produce/bulk food item placed on it. It was exciting and made shopping that much more exciting.

We then drove to the campground that proved to beautiful with its views and remarkably quiet given its location and pricing structure. We even managed to pick up one television station that allowed us to watch the news and thank our lucky stars we are on the North Island as the South is being hit with an early winter of ice and snow. It’s an early night tonight and Chrissy is starting to catch Tom’s close call with a cold.

Posted by tc2009 03:37 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wellington - Day Three

all seasons in one day 9 °C

Waking up to a decently fine day by Wellington standards, we decided to grace the city with our presence another night but to explore the outer reaches. We picked Upper Hutt for the day that got us out of the city and into a slower atmosphere. However, by the time we arrived in Upper Hutt the weather had turned to crap and we decided to forgo our original plans of walking and take in a movie instead. Good choice on our part as we discovered a fantastic movie theatre complete with loveseat style & comfy movie seats, ample legroom, AND you can take food/alcohol in with you! Hopefully there will be more of these along the way because they are simply too fantastic to miss. We saw ‘Angels & Demons’ which was quite good and we both enjoyed it.

After the movie, the weather had cleared up so we decided to wander around Main Street where Tom got his hair cut and we picked up some Lysol wipes to attempt to battle the horrible odour coming from the fridge. It worked marginally, enough at least so we weren’t gagging all the way back to Wellington. Although we were meant to head to Hayley’s for dinner, we decided it would be much more enjoyable to check out her past house instead of her current. After our minor diversion, we were fortunate enough to find her present house by accident.

Hayley’s mom and sister joined us for a thrilling dinner of fajitas and advice of which both were in ample quantity, this time with seasoning!! With the night drawing to a close, we said goodbye to Hayley & thanked her for being a good host, making her promise to come visit soon. She had pointed out an empty lot beside her place earlier and that is where we make camp for the night. Hopefully the traffic isn’t too crazy all night….

Posted by tc2009 03:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wellington - Day Two

rain 6 °C

Due to last night’s screening of Grey’s, we got off to a late start this morning. Deciding that driving in Wellington is better left to the professionals, we hopped on public transit and made our way downtown. We kick started the day by wandering (mostly aimlessly) around Te Papu, the giant museum which is free and learning more than we ever wanted to know. Including the earthquake simulator should not be used by Chrissy at any point in time and giant squids are creepy to look at. We also learned plenty more but that would require days of retelling.

After the museum, we wandered in the direction of the Wellington Museum but were distracted by a fantastic playground that simply could not be passed by without exploring some more. There was a guard seagull, lighthouse slide, and squishy mats for when we came off the slides. Thankfully everyone was at work and not paying attention to us. Tom enjoyed the Wellington Museum (also free) much more than Te Papu and all was well in the world of free-ness until the swarms of schoolchildren descended and caused havoc. We bailed pretty quickly and made our way to Parliament.

Alas, there was no bickering and debating occurring today and so we had to be content with gazing at its interesting structure from the outside and watching traffic pass by. Our next adventure to search out the Canadian Embassy was met with little success and a theory that our nation conducts its business in a secret underground lair complete with prancing unicorns, sheep, and guarded by orks. Or in reality is just housed in some inconspicuous office building.

Deciding we had enough for one day, we caught the bus back to the van-a-ram where we ate some supper, did some (more) laundry, and Chrissy then headed off to Rangers with Hayley. Tom hunkered down to try and combat his advancing cold. And before you know it, it was bedtime at the ol’ parking lot.

Posted by tc2009 03:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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