These days have been hectic with the long drives, scenic walks and making sure we get enough sleep to last us for the next day.
We’ve been slowly anticipating our long awaited hike at Mt Tongariro but when we checked the weather…it said that it’s going to rain 😦 I’ve been diligently checking the weather and it doesn’t look like it will get better. And so we had to cancel hotel stays, get out our maps to figure out where we should go instead. But we were too late and so we could only cancel a night – better than staying there doing nothing for two nights.
But..it’s all planned out and I’m happy with what we’ve planned in those few hours!!! (Even if we had to sacrifice sleep.)
Day 5: ROTORUA
I think I’m getting used to the smell. We had a late start to our morning as we spent last night planning what to do after the cancellation. We had a hearty breakfast, showered and prepared for our outing to explore the town.
We went to the Redwoods Forest for a hike. There were many routes to choose from ranging from 30mins to 8 hours!!!! But we chose to spend around 2 hours and went on an intermediate one. The natural beauty of the trees and the greenery..wow!
After spending a few hours trekking around the forest, we went to have lunch at the nearest food joint: Burger King. Sydney does not even have this anymore I think (or it might just be a few stores) but this place was crowded. We ordered a few burgers, onion rings, chips and drinks (had free refills). We also explored the nearest mall to help digest our food and some of the prices in there are shocking! – either expensive or cheap compared to Sydney.
Afterwards we went to see the Government House which featured European architecture, few thermal pools and a beautiful rose garden. The stink is strong at the pools so beware.
Top left: rose garden
Top right: see the steam coming out of the rocks?
Bottom: Government House
Lastly, before we went to buy some necessities at Pak “n” Save, we explored Kairua Park which has active geothermal pools! The heat is strong with boiling hot water and some of the pools have really loud growls.
Day 6: ROTORUA -> Taupo -> Turangi
It is spa day and today we had an early start as it is our last day at ROTORUA. We got up early and checked out of our motel by 8am. We drove straight to Wai-o-Tapu to have a look at the infamous Lady Knox Geyser and the colourful lakes and craters.
There are three different tracks inside Wai-o-Tapu that are distinguished by red, green and yellow lines. We did the whole track which took roughly 1.5hours. We did have to stop our track midway as we went to see the Geyser which was at 10:15am. It was a bit disappointing as I thought it would’ve been spectacular and was said to be a “must-see” by many people. I think otherwise as I rather enjoyed the lakes and craters in the park itself – Champagne lake was the highlight as well as one of the Devil’s Lake which was lime green!!!
Top row: The Lady Knox Geyser
Bottom row: different lakes in Wai-O-Tapu
After spending a long time trekking around the park (ensure you have enough water to drink and pack sunscreen!!!!), we quickly drove to Waikite Thermal Pools for a relaxing spa experience – definitely deserved it after all that trekking! We were pondering between Polynesia and Waikite for a while but decided on the latter because it would not be too crowded. I was glad we made that choice as we had a lot of space to ourselves (though it is a bit popular) and the hot spas soothed my tired body as well as increasing my sleepiness.
On our way to Turangi, we stopped by Taupo to have lunch. It was raining heavily and we didn’t have umbrellas 😦 To make it worst, we had to quickly find a place to eat as most of the restaurants don’t open in the afternoon (closed at 4pm when we were there) and it was a Monday. Fast food eateries are open and luckily we found this place called “Pub n Grub”. I was excited and good thing I was too because the food was MOUTHWATERINGLY DELICIOUS!
The skies cleared up quickly and gave us a spectacular view of a snow-covered mountain. Even though the mountain was quite far away, we took lots of photos – first time ever seeing a mountain with a snowy tip!
It’s hard to see it in this photo but it is super clear in real life!
Then we continued our long drive down to Turangi which is a small town on the other side of Taupo. We were surprised to see ANZ bank there! I think that was the first time we saw a bank in NZ period.
As it is around 7pm, we’re taking the rest of the day to rest and recover. Currently I’m a bit sick having suffered a stuffy nose since ROTORUA. The place we are staying at is super duper nice – Turangi Bridge Motel.
One thing about NZ is that places open late (around 10am) and closes quite early especially eateries in small towns (usually at 4.30pm). So we went to the closest supermarket to buy some groceries for us to eat for dinner and for breakfast (as we’re leaving quite early in the morning).
Oh! And before I forget, we also went to Huka Falls before we got to Taupo. There was a bit of drizzling but damn, those water flows are so huge and fast! I truly recommend you to come and have a look! It is one of the best views of the Falls you can see in NZ (trust me).