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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 ?
Three years ago, it was a rushed visit to the Coromandel. This time we had a lot more time to explore a bit more and really appreciate its beauty.
We rented a house in Hahei with the most stunning views and slept, with the windows open, listening to the waves crashing gently on the beach.
The walk to Cathedral Cove is one of the most popular activities nearby. But the description on TripAdvisor underplayed the steepness, up and down, of the path. My FitBit calculated that we walked the equivalent of 53 flights of stairs.
But we made it. Just! And it was worth it. Looking through the gigantic stone arch into Cathedral Cove was a classic view and very beautiful. The whole bay with blue sea and islands dotted around, drew regular gasps of appreciation from all of us.
Hot Water Beach
Then in the evening we went to Hot Water Beach. It was both magical and very surreal. The sun was just starting to set, and bathed the beach in a lovely soft light. Most of the beach was empty apart from a few hardy surfers. But then in one fairly small area there were about 80 to 100 people – strangers – all clustered together, digging holes in the sand!
Hot geothermal water flows just under the surface, from cliffs at the back of one part of the beach. In the right places, you can dig into the sand at low tide and easily fill a pool in the sand with either pleasantly warm, or scaldingly hot geothermal water.
Hot Water Beach
There is lots of laughter and community spirit as friends and strangers share the very surreal experience of very hot water running down a beach into the sea. One of life’s memorable moments. I loved it.
Once the sun had set, Paul preferred the absolutely awesome view of the Milky Way and Jupiter in the inky black sky.
After a lovely day on the beach with Chris, Belinda, Amelia and Ben, we then had a second really special reunion with Kate, Max, Zac and Ross. It was quite emotional to see them again. We are so blessed to have so many special people out here in New Zealand.
So obviously we celebrated… with all ten of us going to a restaurant in Raglan for good food and good wine. A truly memorable evening.
Bridal Veil Falls, Raglan
Then all ten of us got together the next morning for coffee, before all heading off to the magnificent Bridal Veil Falls. After all the recent rain, it was really spectacular.
Then sadly Kate and family had to say goodbye to us all too quickly. But we will cherish our short time with them long after we return home.
But it wasn’t all bad news. We are so lucky to be able to spend the rest of the holiday with Chris, Belinda and the family.
Bridal Veil Falls, Raglan
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.
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.