Monday 9th April
The weather is still beautiful even though it's Autumn and we go to Otawawarei beach for the day. Simon used to come here with his parents when he was young so he loves it. We sunbathe and swim in the sea. The beach itself is lovely, very quite and secluded and the walk around the bluff is beautiful.
Tuesday 10th April
Today is one of the highlights of our trip - we go to visit White Island which is an active volcano just off the coast from Whakatane. We head out in the boat and are joined by pods of dolphins who play in the bow wave. They are truly amazing creatures and I'm amazed at how fast they can swim.
It takes an hour and a half steady cruising at around 20knots to reach the island and as it looms ever closer we can clearly see it puffing away. We get in a small dinghy to reach the shore and notice that the sea is yellow closer in and the rocks are red from oxidisation of the acid from the volcano.
We are issued with hard hats and gas masks before walking around. The landscape is what can only be described as a combination of something from Star Trek, the Moons surface and Mars all in one place. In the safety briefing they inform us that the volcanos in New Zealand are not lava flowing but instead they will shoot rocks out at a really fast rate if they erupt. So if we see the guides running, we should try and keep up!
We walk around and see rivers of boiling water, steam bursting from the sides of large mounds, mud pools hissing and plopping and massive craters where previous eruptions have happened. I can't quite believe I'm on a live volcano!
Later on that day we go to visit Jill Roche (one of Simon's parents friends). She's an artist and has some lovely prints for sale so we purchase one or two or actually four pieces of her work! She kindly feeds us and puts us up for the night. The house she and Ed have is gorgeous with fruit trees in the garden. We sample her cake and home made crumble - mmmm - I miss home cooking, particularly when I haven't made it! We leave her with some of the trout that Simon caught on Lake Taupo.