Sunday, 24 October 2010

Rotorua and Taupo

From Auckland, I started the journey south, first stopping at Mount Eden, an extinct volcano in Auckland, for panoramic views of the city and harbour. Then through the Hauraki plains to Thames, through Paeora, where New Zealands most famous fizzy drink, L & P, was first made, which was really refreshing. Then on to the Shires rest for lunch, gateway to the Hobbiton movie set, surrounded by lots of rolling green hills and sheep. When we reached Rotorua, the smell of rotton eggs hits you, this is because of the dense sulphur deposits in the area. In the evening I went to Tamaki Maori Hangi and Concert evening in the Tawa forest. In the village we learnt about Maori traditions and culture, and saw the Hangi, where they traditionally cook their meals, a hole in the ground, with lots of rocks in the bottom, the food is then covered with earth and left to cook for a few hours. The Maroi's danced and sang for us, and performed the Haka, then we sat down to enjoy our hangi meal. There was chicken, lamb, vegetables, stuffing and gravy, and in true backpacker style I ate like it was my last ever meal. There was even steamed pudding and custard, and pavlova so I had to have 3 helpings, since I have not had a dessert for 4 months!
The following day I walked round the Government Gardens in Rotorua, which were created in the 1890's, originally a scrubland geothermal area, turned into Edwardian Gardens which were really lovely. I walked along the shore of Lake Rotorua, which was milky white due to the particles of sulphur suspended in the water. It was amazing to see the amount of gas rising into the air, and hear the bubbling noises and smell the sulphur! Afterwards I went to Kuirau Park, another thermal area in Rotorua.
In the afternoon I went white water rafting on the Kaitaki River, grade 5 rapids! It was so good, we went over a gentle 2m and 1.5m waterfall easily, then the big one, 7 metres! It was so exciting, I was at the front of the raft and as we tipped over the edge our guide yelled 'down' and we all dived for the bottom of the raft. The nose dipped into the plunge pool at the bottom of the falls and then we bobbed up again, not one of us had fallen out. Awesome!
On the way to Taupo, we stopped at Lady Knox Geyser which is a natural geiser that erupts every day at 10.15am, which I thought was very strange that nature could be so precise, until the guide explained that he put something like soap powder in the geiser to create a reaction. The water reached about 10m high when the geiser erupted! It was then on to Huka Falls which has the greatest volume of water falling over it in New Zealand. Our overnight stop is in Taupo which is a small holiday village, next to the largest lake in New Zealand,which you could fit Singapore in. A really pretty place.

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