Mt Tongariro

Not one, but three volcanoes

Anne here…

Wow my first “active” volcanos, with smoke coming out of a fumerole on Mt. Tongariro just to remind everyone that they aren’t dormant yet.

Mt. Ruapehu

Mt. Ruapehu

The views were genuinely amazing and stunning. On Mt. Ruapehu there was also a helicopter working very hard, moving building supplies in preparation for the winter ski season. The helicopter was particularly impressive when silhouetted against the blue skies.

Mt. Ngauruhoe

Mt. Ngauruhoe

Belinda and I had a very pleasant lunch half way up Mt Ruapehu. Paul, Chris and the kids caught two ski lifts and had lunch at the top.

The more classic volcano shaped mountain is Mt Ngauruhoe and the third volcano is Mt Tongariro. All of which are situated in the Tongariro National Park.

Click on any of the smaller photos for a bigger view.

Mt. Ruapehu

Mt. Ruapehu

 

Mt. Ruapehu

Mt. Ruapehu

Huka Falls

A very busy day around Taupo

Anne here…

Three of today’s four activities, Paul and I had done on our last visit. But we had loved them so much last time that we were happy to repeat them.

For me, the power of thousands of litres of frothing, whirling, ice blue water hurtling through Huka Falls was just as moving and surprisingly emotional the second time. I find the sheer power of the Falls totally mesmerising.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

Then the geothermal landscape around Taupo is spectacularly shown off in “The Craters of the Moon” boardwalk trail. You walk through a harsh steamy landscape, with the smell of sulphur in your nostrils, marvelling at huge craters and bubbling mud pools. The sun shone; it was very hot.

Aratiatia Rapids

Aratiatia Rapids

Then a quick detour to watch the opening of the Aratiatia dam sluices. The water company open the sluices three times a day just to amaze tourists and help attract visitors to the area. A siren blasts four warnings which heightens the anticipation. There are several excellent viewing platforms. The dam gates open and a frothing torrent of water fills the empty ravine. It is awesome and generates gasps of amazement. It is also a Lord of the Rings film location.

Finally the adults finished the day with a very welcome relaxing soak in two huge warm/hot geothermal pools while Amelia and Ben played in an aqua-park and on aqua-slides. It’s a hard life being on holiday 😀

British and NZ cousins

Meeting our NZ family again and Waitomo Caves

Anne here…

What a very, very special couple of days. Family and more family… the family links to some were technically closer than others. But without exception just the loveliest, friendliest most welcoming people.

Firstly we met up with Chris, Belinda, Amelia and Ben and immediately continued our friendship with them from our previous visit three years ago. To go on the tour in Waitomo caves just 30 minutes later just felt totally natural.

Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves

We visited two caves in Waitomo, each quite different. The first with a walk through caves with stalactites and stalagmites followed by a silent boat trip through the glow worm caves. Very magical to be in dark caves with hundreds of little twinkling glow worm lights above us. (unfortunately no photos permitted).

The second cave had huge cavernous chambers with even more dramatic stalagmites and stalactites. Wow.

This was followed by an impromptu visit to relatives of our relatives! And the most wonderful NZ hospitality including afternoon tea, homemade jams and the warmest, loveliest welcome.

A very special day. And the sun shone.

Hot springs in the Kuirau park, Rotorua

A day in Rotorua

Anne here…

After a day cwtched up in a pleasant motel room (with its own hot tub) avoiding the rain from Cyclone Cook, it was good to see blue skies first thing.

Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest

Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest

So a good walk through the Redwood trees of the Whakarewarewa forest on the outskirts of Rotorua was perfect. The Redwoods were just amazing. Also, in the typical New Zealand way, the various routes were really well signposted with lots of helpful information and no car parking charges.

There was a lovely atmosphere: lots of families enjoying the Easter Friday holiday; the regular dog walkers, runners and cyclists.

But the forest is so huge and there are so many different paths that somehow after 10 minutes walking,  we seemed to have our path all to ourselves.

We spent a few days in Rotorua three years ago and loved the area. So it is a real pleasure to be back (although we had slightly forgotten how pungent the smell of sulphur can be! ).

So where do we head back to? Yes… the pub… in fact the Pig and Whistle traditional pub where we had a fab meal three years ago…and yes it is definitely still as good.

Hot springs in the Kuirau park, Rotorua

Hot springs in the Kuirau park, Rotorua

Then to walk off our pub meal we headed to Kuirau Municipal Park in the centre of Rotorua. Again a completely free public resource, really well done. But it is just really surreal seeing a municipal park with puffs and clouds of steam just coming out of the ground apparently randomly. In fact they are usually from boiling hot small geothermal pools, which the council has to fence off for safety. We were amazed, intrigued and enthralled.

And then back to the motel for a relaxing soak in the hot tub 🙂

Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest

Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest

Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest

Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest

Tree ferns in the Whakarewarewa forest

Tree ferns in the Whakarewarewa forest

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Anne here again…

Wednesday today.

And we have dodged heavy rain showers all day. But the scenery on State Highway One through Northland was absolutely spectacular. Far more hills and scoria cones (we think) – whatever a scoria cone is (I married a geologist) – than I expected.

And now we are sat in the loveliest apartment,  with the most spectacular views of the Bay of Islands, with balcony doors open listening to waves crashing gently on the beach.

And the best bit…We are here for three nights.

#betterthanworking