From Whangamata we made our way down the east coast to the beach resort of Tauranga.This was another big beach town and the sand was really white and ran for miles.The reason we know this is we decided to climb Mt Maunganui which sits right on the beach front and at the start of the Bay of Plenty.The views were fantastic and we felt we had earned our lunch when we made it back to the campervan.After deciding it was just a bit too hot to sit on the beach we made our way south and in land slightly to Rotorua.Passing the amusingly named town of Te Puke.
The main tourist attractions in Rotorua revolve around the geo thermal activity in the region.Not wanting to miss out we visited Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland.This was quite entertaining where we saw the Champagne Pool, bubbling mud amongst other effects of the volcanic activity.The highlight of the tour here was meant to be the Lady Knox Geyser.
This was a Geyser that the park made explode at 10:30 every morning by adding some soap.Something to do with breaking the surface tension and letting the hot gas and water to the top apparently.Anyway they draw back was you could not get closer than 15m and it was only about 10-15ft high.The reason you could not get so close is the land underneath the geyser gets worn away hence it is very dangerous.The worrying thing was in Bolivia you can stand right next to the geysers and even touch it if you wanted.
In Rotorua we also visited the Polynesian Spa which was a series of natural hot pools of different temperatures right by the lake side.Very relaxing but when it is 25-30c outside sitting in a hot pool does not hold your interest for too long so it was back to the camp site for a few cold beers.
Without doubt however the highlight of the Rotorua was the Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo.After discovering in the local press an international Rodeo (including a rare southern hemisphere appearance of the American world champion Joey Beaver himself) was taking place only 15km away.We were there in a flash and for $10 we were treated to a full day of junior barrel racing, calf riding, rope and tie, steer wrestling, bronc riding, open barrel racing, and of course the open bull ride. From the 10 year old cow boys trying to ride calves it became clear that Rodeo seemed to be a way of life.It was quite a spectacle and extremely entertaining, and that was just the crowd. Quote of the day "Bucking like a son of a gun!".
From the Rodeo we got back on board the van and headed for Lake Taupo.