25 November 2008
Whakatane via Rotorua
(Te Puia en Wai-O-Tapu)
and Huka Falls to Taupo
The next morning it was cloudy, windy, but dry, so I decided to leave early for the city of Rotorua. The clouds started to disappear and in a New Zealand way it was good and fine weather within 30 minutes.
After one hour of driving I entered the city Rotorua and searched and found my way to the Te Puia thermal Area that lies in Rotorua. The road signs are very clear so you can’t miss this attraction. I parked my campervan in a parking place near the park, bought myself a ticket and entered the park. Te Puia formerly known as the New Zealand Maori Arts and Craft Institute is one of the oldest Thermal parks in the Rotorua area in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley that lies in Rotorua.
The main attractions are the Puhutu Geyser that erupts 20 times a day up to 30 metres and they have in the New Zealand Maori Arts and Craft Institute the Te Aronui-a-Rua Meeting House where you can attend and see the Maori Life style and you can see that too in the Whakarewarewa Village that is situated in the same park and where the children dive from the bridge for money that the tourists throw in and where you can eat the special Maori meals that are cooked (due to the thermal activity) under the ground. I only went to see the Puhutu Geyser and watched the greeting at the Te Aronui-a-Rua Meeting House. I have seen more than enough documentaries on the television about this ceremony, so decided only to watch the outside part with the greeting and the singing.
This Thermal Park seemed to me an old park. There were mud pools with very little activity so except for the geyser, which I liked very much, the thermal activity wasn’t very good anymore (my opinion). I do think the mud pools were better 10 to 20 years ago, maybe they die slowly. Anyway Volcanic activity is alive and not always the same.
In the meantime the weather was getting better by the hour and with a temperature of about 22 degrees I decided to continue to Wai-O-Tapu, the Thermal Wonderland along Highway 5 to Taupo. I visited this area in 2003 but was still under the impression of the wonderful views of the Champagne Pool, Primrose Terrace and Artist's Palette. Wai-O-Tapu is seen as the most colourful thermal park in the Rotorua area. This time I took more time for the walk to the different highlights and visited places which I didn't see 5 years ago.
I took some nice shots of the area and then I left for Taupo. My schedule for the day gave me time to stop and take the road up to the Huka Falls Jets. Not a planned trip for this day. But I do believe the Huka Falls are one of the best falls in New Zealand so I was anxious to see the falls from the other side, from the water. So down to the river with the campervan, bought myself a ticket and up to the next adventure. And it was good, except that the organisation gave the information cameras ... no. So I could not take the photo's I wanted. And considering it afterwards there was not a single reason not taking the camera with me, I would have had enough time to make my shots. But, OK, you don't go for a second run for some photo's. But still it was good to see from the water the Waikato River that thunders through a narrow rock channel and plunges into a deep pool.
After the Jetboat trip I drove to a high view point to see the last trip of that day so I could take some photo's of the JetBoat. After that I drove to the official entrance of the Huka Falls, where there is access to several viewpoints to see the rock channel and the falls. Also from this viewpoint the pure nature of the falls are impressive so I enjoyed it very much and took really wonderful photo's of the falls. Never forget to put the Huka Falls on your to-do list for your New Zealand trip.
After this 45 minutes interval I took the campervan and drove the last few kilometres to Taupo. Made another stop at a viewpoint at the start of the town and then down to the waterside in Taupo. At the boulevard of Lake Taupo I enjoyed a stonegrill meal. I cooked my beef on a heated stone at the Lava Rock Cafe. By turning and cutting you can have your own way of cooking the beef and to your own taste. Of course delivered with good sauces for the extra taste. Eating and enjoying with a perfect view over Lake Taupo.
After dinner I drove to the Great Lake Holiday Park, with view over Lake Taupo, and where I made everything ready for the night and then went to the internet facilities so family and relatives could be informed of my trip. Returning to the campervan I took a short walk to the road from where I could see Taupo with lake and lights in the distance. Tomorrow morning a relaxed start to the day and than - a day earlier then planned - on my way to Wellington so I have more time to do some extra things there. The volcanic adventure is postponed to the last week because then I'm again in that area because of the planned White Water rafting in Okere (near Rotorua).