For the next part of our trip we spent two night camping on a small river just North West of Rotorua. This place just feels special. The whole area is fascinating. You will see openings in the ground that have formed naturally to expel hot steam into the air, there will be lush forests and culture everywhere you turn.
We checked out a redwood forest that had been planted roughly 60 years ago (surprisingly the trees bark is very soft). When you look at them, in the grand scheme of things and in relative comparison to thier counterparts in America, these would be small saplings. The tree’s themselves blocked out quite a bit of light, but created this really open arid forest space which is completely unlike any forest I’ve walked through before.
We also went to Hell’s Gate – which is a very active geothermal area with bubbling hot pools of mud. You could bath in them if you wanted, but we just walked around the place instead. There was a waterfall feature here, that the Maori men and women would bath their new born sons in traditionally. There was one mound of mud that you can stand quite close to on a platform, and I actually got a splash on my arm. Thankfully by the time it landed on me it had travelled a few feet in the cool air and didn’t burn me…
Rotorua is the cultural central hub for the Maori, and you’ll see a lot of attractions and events geared towards education for tourists. We weren’t able to attend any of these attractions but will be aiming to head back up this way again to learn more.
The trout in the stream were jumping quite a bit at the campsite, so Mike was able to enjoy many hours of fishing at dawn and dusk. He caught four (rainbow and brown) altogether.
Just past the Redwood forest there is also a Buried Village and several stunning lakes. In 1886, a volcano erupted and wiped out the small foreign settlement. A couple of young men in the 30’s began excavating and have created a small museum and walking tour for those interested in seeing what a young colony looked like for that time.
The most fascinating part we both think of the place, was the poplar stakes that were used to outline the small plots of land. They sprouted into full blown trees and established themselves after the community vanished.
Before the volcano erupted there were pink terraces (hot pools that staggered down the mountain side), which the locals declared the 8th wonder of the world… unfortunately these were completely destroyed – however there were some photographs of them in the museum. Adventurous travellers came from all around the globe in the 1800’s to see them.
After two nights we travelled back down to Lake Taupo to spend a night with Mike’s Uncle Andrew and his partner Jackie and thier dog Millie. We stayed up late playing trivia games on the TV, and ate some of the best food we’ve had in ages.
We’re now back in Palmerston for a couple of nights before we travel South toward Wellington to catch a Ferry on Monday to the South Island for the next leg of the trip.
We’ll be down there for a few weeks before we return to move into our new home…
Holly & Mike