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 Prawn Fishing

Huka Falls Hot Prawn Fishing

Anne here…

Not a joke I promise. Our day at the Huka Falls Hot Prawn Fishing Farm started with an excellent guided tour and advice on how best to catch prawns.

Huka Prawn Park

Huka Prawn Park

This farm is the only Hot Prawn Farm in the world … I wasn’t surprised. The local river water is combined with local geothermal naturally heated water to fill 19 outdoor ponds. The prawns love it and thrive – until they nibble the bait on the end of a cane fishing rod. Each catch is greeted by cheers… at least by the humans. You can cook the prawns at the site or take them home on a bag of ice.

It’s a surprisingly social activity with families chatting and relaxing together as they wait for the prawns to bite.

Then the most stunningly beautiful drive which started around Lake Taupo and ended with the awesome volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.

Huka Prawn Park

Huka Prawn Park

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 😀

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

Whakarewarewa Village

Whakarewarewa – A living Maori village

Anne here . . .

Wednesday 23rd April

Kia ora.

I felt a bit unsure about going to a Maori cultural show in case it was a bit patronising but the Whakarewarewa Maori Living Village in Rotorua is a fantastic introduction to the Maori culture. The village has about 25 to 30 Maori families living on the site. Parts of the village are a bit scruffy but the Maori guide, Manawa, was excellent, with fascinating anecdotes and lots of information about the history of the eight Maori tribes and their customs. We had a traditional hangi pie lunch in the village cafe. Then we watched a Maori performance, including audience participation and the Haka.

The Maori chose this place for the village because of the geothermal pools. Our lunch was geothermally steamed in a oven box in the ground. The villagers have steaming hot water for all their washing, heating and cooking needs.

Even after two days, I am still totally amazed by the steaming pools, geysers, mud holes and craters in the ground. The local park in Rotorua has areas fenced off because of huge steam plumes coming out of the ground.

We ended the day with a ride on the Sky Gondola with fantastic views over Rotorua and Lake Rotorua. Followed by another spa bath under the stars!