My last morning in Taupo I did the Huka Falls walk. To get there you walk alongside the river, and go past the Taupo Bungy centre. I watched a few people do their jumps over the river. Nice spot for it.
Then through the bush (cue pic of tree fern and…tree)
and finally you hear the rushing and roaring of the Falls. They must be near! The view when you get there is quite breathtaking.
I headed back after that, stopping off at the Taupo Bungy cafe for my habitual coffee. Still no bungy jump for me, in answer to those who were betting I would do one while in NZ. Don’t you know I don’t follow tick lists?
It was now time to get my stuff and get on the bus to Rotorua. Sulphur City, here I come. And yeah, you do smell it as you approach. I’d had a preview during the Tongariro Crossing, actually. Yum yum, eggy fumes.
Some fascinating facts about the area, now pay attention. The Rotorua Basin was formed by volcanic eruptions, and I read somewhere that Rotorua has one earthquake a day, of Richter magnitude 2 or less. You get geothermal water spurting to the surface in geysers in some places and there are lots and lots and lots of sulphur flats and pools, complete with colourful (and hardy) microorganisms and that delicious odour.
I set off that afternoon to explore the city. First up, the lake (it’s a spent volcano under all the water, of course), where there are black swans. Which are more dangerous than you might think.
Notice how on the sign the beak illustrated is so that of a kea. Yeah? Must be a multipurpose ‘don’t feed the birds’ symbol, but makes me laugh everytime I look at it.
Then onto the steamy, smelly stuff in Kuirau Park. This is a thermal area you are free to wander around (there are paths to keep you safe) amongst the sulphur, bubbling mud and steam.
That evening I met up with my Magic bus friend who I’d been coincidentally trailing through the North Island, and we had a beer and talked about boys. Good stuff.
I had set myself the challenge of going mountain biking in Rotorua. The forest just outside the city has some of the best mountain biking trails in the country.
My roommate in the hostel (who hails from Bristol, UK!) would have joined me but she needed to go to work, so I was on my own. To get to the place, I needed to take the bus and then walk out to the start point for the trails, where there is also a company that rents out bikes, even to beginners like myself. The woman there handed me a map and showed me which trails she recommended, then off I went, starting with a warm up on the Kids Loop (don’t laugh). I moved on to more challenging trails but still within my ability…until the Creek Trail I was on suddenly went ballistic and there were some massive twists and turns. I got going too fast and knew what was going to happen. Now just to minimise the damage… Yep, down I went! I have the battle scars that go with that, grrr, tough Tracy. But everyone knows what you do when you come off your bike. You get back on. (You are allowed a breather first, though.) It was a fantastic and exhausting experience and I’m thinking I should get a mountain bike when I return to Bristol! I just wish I’d had time for the Dipper…
Slept soundly that night! Next morning was up for one more walk amongst the odours before my bus to Tauranga, my last stop before Auckland.
Tauranga is not as great as I’d hoped so far. I went on an estuary walk yesterday that incorporated far too much Big Noisy Road for my taste (as well as an unhelpful diversion where part of the route was closed but luckily I do like a puzzle). I then had a longer than desired walk to the nearest supermarket but I’d already worked out a fun evening plan to relax. Two main ingredients. 1) Treat myself to a falafel for dinner, and 2) go to the cinema, as it was Tuesday (and it’s cheap Tuesday at the cinema in Australia and NZ, for some reason). Falafel was tasty and the film was fine. Back to hostel, and to bed. NZzzzzzzz.
Today I’ll be taking the local bus to nearby Mt Maunganui, which should hopefully be pretty. I’m in the mood for some nice scenery here in the so-called Bay of Plenty.