Oops it's been a while since I've blogged. Apologies.
Since we left National Park, we've been to Taupo, Rotorua and Tauranga and we're now in Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Taupo has a big lake and nice views of the volcanoes. There's pumice on the lake shore and very insistent ducks. Instantly it has shops. It was comforting to visit The Warehouse and Pak 'N' Save after a few days in the back of beyond! We saw the Huka Falls, which were a bit underwhelming. It's just like some rapids without much of an actual waterfall. We also saw where they let lots of water out of a hydroelectric dam 3 times daily for no good reason, just so tourists can "oooh" and "aaahhh". We went to some kind of half built geothermal/Maori cultural site, which had an impressive big pool of boiling water but was otherwise strange and the only people around were workmen. We went to Craters of the Moon, which was fairly cool but there wasn't much boiling mud.
Taupo just can't compete with actual Rotorua for geothermal wonders. Rotorua is amazing. I really liked it, despite the smell. Kuirai Park is on the edge of the city centre and is free to visit. It has boiling mud, steaming bubbling lakes and steam and boiling water and steam emerging from the earth all over the place. It amazes me that they actually built a city on a caldera. Elsewhere in town, steam rises from holes in people's gardens and drains are full of boiling water. You can pay lots of money to visit out of town sites but the city itself is free and amazing. The lake is really pretty too, amazingly calm. Black swans bob around on it, foraging for food with their snake-like necks. Hot rivers flow into the lake and in many places poisonous gases bubble up. But it still looks so calm. There are pukeko too, beautiful blue wading birds with long red legs. It amazes me how much life there is in the water when in places it is milky white, bubbling and foul smelling from the sulphur. There's a church right by the water in a Maori area and there's a Maori military cemetery, where the bodies have been buried in above ground white painted tombs to keep them out of the boiling earth. The Government Gardens are also geothermal but are much more ornately laid out, in a Victorian style, with restored public baths, a museum in the old public baths and ornately laid out bowling lawns and a rose garden.
I went to the Agrodome, which has nothing to do with geothermal activity but is awesome. I went to the sheep show and hand milked a cow on stage. I met all the rams, they were very docile and happy to be patted and talked to. I met some lambs as well. Then I went on the farm tour. Most people my age only go there to do adventurous activities like being rolled down a hill in an inflatable ball, but I only wanted to meet the animals! I got to feed sheep, alpacas, ducks and ostriches. The ostriches were vicious things, one of them bit my finger and it hurt. The alpacas and sheep were lovely. Alpacas are sometimes taller than I am, which scared the other people on the tour. They are so friendly and they feel so soft and fluffy and warm. I'd love to keep alpacas. I also got to try a feijoia, some kiwi juice and kiwi wine. The kiwi wine was pretty acidic but the feijoia and the kiwi juice were nice. It's an awesome farm. The sheep show is very entertaining too.
From Rotorua we went to Tauranga, where we spent 1 night. It wasn't that exciting but the YHA hostel has an awesome garden, they've been very busy creating garden sculptures.
On Monday we got a bus up to Whitianga. Monday was cold and very wet but it cleared up after that. Yesterday we got a bus to Hot Water Beach, where you can dig holes down to hot water springs around low tides. It was very busy and difficult to find the hot spots. In places though the water running into the sea was so hot it burned my feet. The sea was lovely and only knee deep a really long way out. I saw some fish. Then we hitch hiked to another village to see some more famous beaches. Neither of us had ever hitch hiked before. I wrote a sign and held it up by the car park exit but the cars going past were all either full or didn't feel like picking us up. We didn't realise we were standing in front of the drive of a local woman, and she kindly gave us a lift as she was going the direction we were heading. We got to the village of Hahei and had about a 20 minute walk just to the Cathedral Cove car park, then from there it was 45 minutes walk. So we decided to check out a beach on the way, called Stingray Bay. The steps down to it were very muddy and Simon was only wearing flip flops on his feet so spied what he thought would be a better way down. He had just disappeared from my view when I heard the unmistakable thuds and crashes of a body falling. Then silence. I shouted "Are you ok? Can you walk?" And when there was no reply, I thought "Oh no I'm going to have to call for an air ambulance." My aim for this holiday is to avoid helicopters and hospitals. But then I heard "I wouldn't suggest coming down this way, use the stairs". By the time I got down there, he was checking his iPod for damage so I figured his body must be alright. He was very lucky to avoid landing on the rocks. I patched up his cuts and we walked back.
This morning Simon went scuba diving and I went on a little boat tour of the coastline. I saw Cathedral Cove and I saw a stingray in Stingray Bay. I also saw some of the filming locations for the Prince Caspian Narnia film. This afternoon I got the little ferry across the harbour mouth and walked on the beaches on the other side. A really beautiful coastline and lots of history to do with Captain Cook. I think i could cope with living here!
I was silly today. I was climbing over rock pools on the edge of the beach by a little river, looking at my feet to make sure I didn't slip, when suddenly "Smack!" My head crashed straight into a low hanging tree trunk growing out of the cliff. It hurt a lot.
End of post! And random half sentence at the end corrected.