So on the last day of being in Napier we took a drive out to Mangatutu Hot Springs. It was a two hour drive there. We had a picnic of cheese, biscuits and fruit and then proceeded to get changed into our swimming togs out in the open!! We spent 20 minutes in a hot spring tub, then headed back for the two hour drive back to Napier. Sounds like a waste of time, but was such an amazing drive through corrugated dirt roads with sheep walking down the road in front of the car for several kilometers and you only being able to drive 5 kms per hour because of it!! An amazing day!
The next day we packed up and headed to Lake Taupo and spent three nights there. It was the coldest night we have had in NZ the first night there. It was so cold infact we struggled to sleep, and contemplated moving into a cabin the following nights, but we perservered and so far have not had another cold night like it. Although we have frequently been wearing three layers of clothes to bed, so that could help!!
We spent a lot of time in the hot springs next to the holiday park we were staying in, soothing our aches and pains away and just relaxing! It was lovely! We caught up with a couple of girls from the Portage - seems like a distant memory now!
We had planned on trekking the Tongariro crossing track, but there were bad weather warnings on the day we were going to depart, and as we didn't have the right gear decided to give it a miss this time. Instead we moved onto Rotorua.Went out past Waiotapu thermal reserve, Hell's Gate thermal reserve, the Agrodome where we contemplated doing a swoop bungy jump, but chickened out in the end!! We spent 5 nights in the rotorua thermal camp site and enjoyed mineral hot pools there too!! Oh life is good when your biggest worry is which pool to get into first!! We decided to treat ourselves a bit after that so booked into a motel for two nights. We treated ourselves to a stonegrilled dinner on the Saturday. Pete had a huge piece of steak, and I had venison medalions enjoyed with a bottle of wine. The next day I had a massage booked at the Polynesian Spa. I had a soak in the lake side thermal pools and then was treated to a kiwi mud wrap and a full body massage. It was expensive, but really, really worth it!!
After Rotorua we moved onto Mount Maunganui where we spent two nights. We enjoyed the following day by conquering the mount maunganui by climbing it! It is probably one of the smaller extinct volcanoes of NZ, but never the less fairly challenging! Took us about an hour to get to the top, but we were well rewared with amazing views and an excellent picnic! Later that day we drove out to Mills Reef winery where we tasted a couple of wines and enjoyed a chat with the winemaker. We also tasted and bought a bottle of their port. They are one of the only estates in NZ that produce a port. I must say it was excellent!
Waihi Beach was our next stop for four nights. We stayed in a camp site called Bowentown Family Park which is the best we had stayed in!! It was right on the beach, very peaceful and had everything you needed. We enjoyed two of the days reading our books, sitting on the beach and doing absolutely nothing! On the third day we went to Karangahake Gorge where we hiked around the gorge for part of the day. We spent a good 20 minutes in a tunnel that was 1.8km long. We were very lucky we had a torch with us, as there was next to no light in there and was pretty scary! (Thanks everyone from Sodexho for that!!!) We finished off the day at yet another winery. This one was called Ohinemuri winery, and was a tiny little place that even hand wrote their own labels!! We bought a bottle of the Syrah and had it with our dinner. Needless to say it tasted nothing like the wine we tasted at the estate. Not sure if there was something dodgy going on there! After dinner we watched the All Blacks defeat France.
Next stop was the Coromandel Township. That was a real dissappointment going from the nicest camp site to probably the nasiest camp site! But we stayed for two nights so I suppose it wasn't that bad. We enjoyed fish and chips from a local take away one night, and also went up a tiny railway line to the "Eyefull Tower". It was a tourist attraction that had to be done! We spent an hour round trip on a tiny train going up to 750m above sea level to get the most amazing views over the Hauraki Gulf, almost being able to see Auckland, except for the island in the way. It was a beautiful view!
We moved on passed Thames and stayed in Miranda for two nights. It was a great bird watching place. I had my binoculars out and enjoyed the day reading a bit, then bird watching a bit. We didn't do anything particularly exciting there, but just relaxed a bit more!
I am now writing the journal entry from a motel in Hamilton where we have spent the last two nights. We enjoyed views over the Hamilton gardens on our way in, and spent a day walking the streets and window shopping. Last night we treated ourselves to a curry - eat in!!
We have now been on the road five and a half weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute! Some of you will be pleased to know that Pete is wearing a band that keeps his hair off his face, and so looks neater. He can almost tie it up now!!
Tomorrow we go onto Auckland for a week, where we are going to sell our car and everything we can't take with us, as next week Sunday we fly out to Australia, so will update again soon.
Thank you all for your lovely messages and emails! Its good to know people are interested in what we are doing and where we go. We are both having the time of our lives!