Monday, April 9, 2018
Leaving Auckland by mid-morning, Rotorua was our next stop. The drive between the two cities was quite lovely, with lots of beautiful green pastures. Surprisingly, we saw more cows than sheep. For some reason, I was expecting the reverse. At one point the GPS directed us off of highway 1 and put us on 2 instead. After a few miles, we consulted the map and saw that it was a mistake since most of the larger towns appeared to be on 1 and we were approaching lunchtime. Luckily there was a cutoff that brought us closer to Hamilton, the 4th largest city in New Zealand. We stopped in Morrinsville for lunch and had some delicious lamb at a little falafel shop.
The drive took a little longer than planned, but we checked into the hotel a little after 3. The two big name sites in Rotorua are Te Puia and Whakarewarewa Villiage, both of which have views of the 30 meter geyser, but both of which would be closing before we would be able to fully appreciate them. We decided to go to Kuirau Park in town instead. It was a lot of fun! We started with some steaming pools and rock formations:
Next we found a nice playground and a place to soak our feet:
John, our newest photographer, managed to get some good shots of the mud pools:
At the end of our walk through Kuirau Park, we encountered the “Lake of Fire,” as one person in our family called it. It was quite impressive. We read a sign about a legend where Princess Kuirau used to swim in it, but a monster living in the water swallowed her up. The gods became angry and made the heat of their anger made the pond boil.
We wandered back towards the lake, with the intent of stopping at Ohinemutu, a Maori village, but it was raining off and on, and everyone was tired, so we went back to our hotel, Sudima Hotels and Resorts. The hotel had a comfortable room and a fantastic “thermally heated” pool. The water was incredibly warm, and they had three spa rooms with that you could reserve for private use. The boys had a great evening!
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
In the morning there was more rain, so we decided that since we had seen Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park, that we would skip the big sites. Instead, we put on our rain jackets and briefly wandered the Government Gardens, stopping at a playground that the boys enjoyed and walking a bit on a secret beach that we discovered.
Then we were on to Lake Taupo!