We travelled South to Tauranga, where we were meeting yet more friends, this time Adrian and Wendy, who had emigrated here recently after living in London for too long. It was a short drive and didn't take us very long to find the house they are currently living in, which sits on a hillside over looking the Wairoa river. The highway is no where to be seen and there are only a handful of houses along the track so it is very peaceful and quiet.
It was great to see Aids and Wendy again after three (?) years and it was good to see that the Kiwi way of life suited them both after the extremely fast pace of London. After a nice cold drink and putting on a load of washing we decided to go for a walk and see a little bit of where our friends live so off we went to Mount Maunganui an extinct volcano, that sits right next to the beach to the North East of Tauranga. We walked the base walk that circles the volcano and it was a very busy circuit, with lots of other people making the most of the Sunday afternoon sunshine. It was a gorgeous area, with aquamarine coloured sea stretching ahead of us for miles and miles.
When we got back to the house the boys cooked dinner on the BBQ, which was yummy and then we had a quiet evening catching up before our hosts went to bed, leaving us to skype our family until the early hours of the morning.
We had a leisurely morning, enjoying not having to race off anywhere before driving to McLaren Falls, which wasn't too far away. The river that flows over the rocks to form these falls is controlled by a hydro-electric station so there were wasn't too much water despite the amount of rain the country has seen in recent weeks. McLaren Falls Park was right next door so we had a drive around and got out to look at another pretty little waterfall and some lovely looking lakes.
As we both really enjoyed our walk with Adrian and Wendy we decided to head back there and climb the Mount so off we went. We found it relatively easily and off we set climbing to the top. We wanted to do the Tongariro Crossing as some point this week, weather permitting, so this little climb was good preparation for it considering we haven't really had a decent walk since the Grand Canyon over a month a go. It was hard going, and the Sun didn't help (not that we're complaining) but we made it to the top in a relatively decent time and we stopped to admire the views of the town alongside the long beach below, with little islands dotting the sea. We could see White Island, where a very active volcano was bellowing steam into the atmosphere, quite incredible to see. When we were here yesterday Wendy had pointed a path that circled the Mount whilst descending, which she said was very beautiful so we took that route when it was time to walk down and were indeed rewarded with a quiet little path with some lovely flowers growing at the side and some beautiful views of the sea and the coastline.
When we got to the bottom we drove back to Adrian and Wendy's place, who were now home from work and had yet another yummy tea (this time Salmon and couscous) and a quiet evening planning where we would head to next.