October 12, 2011

Hot Sun and Hot Pools

Ok, I'm back again today to try and write a blog that doesn't get deleted! We have had a busy week touring Tauranga and Rotorua. After we left hot water beach and Coromandel, we headed east to Tauranga. It was a beautiful day so we headed to the town next to Tauranga, Mount Manganui. It is right on the beach and has a hike up the mount with the same name where you can see some great sights. We decided because it was so hot and sunny we would do the walk/uphill climb in our flip flops. Although we still made it to the top, we did it much slower than all of the people running up past us! On our way up we were stopped by an interesting old man in a climbing helmet who wanted to tell us the future. After we were informed of the next coming we carried on up the hill. Once we finally made it to the top the views were well worth the sweat we (I) had to wipe out of my eyes. You could see beaches in all directions and the ocean was sparkling blue from the sun.

We spent our nights in a local park, McClaren Falls Park that had hot showers and interesting campers. Our next day in Tauranga was equally as sunny. We explored the park and found the waterfall that the park is named for. Then we spent the afternoon trying to find my a scoop of ice cream in vain. Of course once we settled for prepackaged ice cream I saw a sign for the one and only place in Tauranga that you can get a scoop from...

On our last day in Tauranga the rain was back again and we had a lazy morning at the park before heading on our way to Rotorua. As we drove in we waited for the smell that everyone had told us would be there, but we didn't smell it. We stopped at Kuirau Park where you can freely see some of the thermal areas as if they were just small gardens that had been planted. Steam rises out of the ground, sometimes the water or mud bubbles to the surface, and then we smelled it. The smell of sulfur from that moment on was something I could not get out of my nostrils.

We were going to spend the night in a campsite just out of town, but when we arrived we found out that their gates shut at 9 O'clock, and we had come to Rotorua for the semi-final games of the world cup, so we were not going to be heading to bed at 9. Instead we headed back into town to spend a few nights in the luxury of a Top Ten Holiday Park. Anything with hot showers, running water that you can drink out of the faucet, and a kitchen with a tv is definitely luxury after the campsites we've been staying in! Our second day in Rotorua we did a walking tour and explored the waterfront and the souvenir shops. We spent the night watching the second day of the Semi finals in an Irish pub after discovering the night before that unless you are either 8 or 80, the fanzone is not the place to watch the games in Rotorua.

On our last day we decided to go to a Maori village and have a hangi. Traditionally a hangi is a meal that is cooked underground (sort of like a clam bake) for several hours so that when the meat comes out it is so soft and tender. It is a little different in Rotorua where boiling hot steam comes out of every crack and crevice. Instead the mean is cooked inside a box that sits over a thermal area and the steam cooks the meat sort of like a pressure cooker. The vegetables are wrapped in a muslin cloth and dropped straight into the thermal pools to cook. The meal was so good it just melted in our mouths. The only complaint is that it had to end!

We had a really good time in Rotorua, but it was nice to leave and smell the fresh air again! We are now on our way to explore Whakatane (pronounced fa-ka-tan-ay) for a little while and then heading to the east coast for Gisborne wine!

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