Zorbing, Rotorua, Taupo (aka Thermal Wonderland)
We had breakfast at Cathedral Cove with a nice view of the islands and the sun rising over the water. From there we drove awhile and stopped in Hobbiton for lunch, a town known for its LOTR tours. I had a chicken salad by the train tracks and admired my surroundings.
Then we stopped to go zorbing!! I had seen this on the Amazing Race and wanted to try it. You go in a huge inflatable plastic ball with water inside and roll down a hill. The ball can hold up to 3 people. I was going to go with Isabelle but she backed out so our driver, Neil, went with me. It was so fun! Just like being in a washing machine, we were on our butts/backs the whole way down, we couldn’t see outside at all. So great, but so short!
After zorbing, my left eye started to bother me… but alas, we went onwards to Rotorua, which reeks of sulfur due to its thermal mud pools. I ended up walking through a residential area [aka the ghetto] and steam was rising from all over because of the sulfur. I walked by lots of mud pools, which were light gray, steaming, and bubbling amidst rocks and hardened mud. It was really interesting to see. I also walked through the gardens, widespread and pretty. I had time to kill so I went online in an internet cafe and later on bought an opua bracelet just because opua is really pretty and it’s a NZ shell.
We stayed the night at a bushcamp (portapotty only) in the farmland, a really beautiful area. Our site was on the river/marsh and across from it were rolling hills and farms. Down the road, naturally, were more farms and I even saw a few horses out. Bushcamps have nicer scenery, but no toilets or showers is kind of rough. We had nachos for dinner, the best meal I had all trip I’d say. Once it got dark, we sat around chatting and played that stupid 2 truths and a lie game. But it got so windy that most people retreated to their tents.
I had to take my contacts out because my left eye hurt so much… this can’t be good!
The next day started out very cloudy with threatening rain. By the time we got to the geyser at Wai-O-Tapu, it had begun to rain. Luckily it wasn’t heavy rain though. We sat in an outdoor stadium before they set off the Lady Knox geyser with soap at 10:15. It naturally erupts every 24-48 hours, but they manually set it off for the tourists once a day. Definitely a cool sight [went up to 69ft!], but we only saw a few minutes of it due to the rain and lack of umbrellas.
From there we arrived at the Thermal Wonderland, the thing I had been so looking forward to… and it was raining! Nevertheless, I walked through the park anyway to see the colorful thermal pools and craters. A lot of the displays were like the steaming mud pools I’d seen in Rotorua, but soon I came to the Champagne Pool and Artist’s Palette, with blue and orange edges due to the various elements found in the muds. Since it was raining, there was even more steam than usual, but you could still see the colorful edges. It was so cool. Some pools were bright colors, like blue or yellow. So colorful! Definitely one of the best things I’ve seen thusfar. I can’t believe most of our group didn’t even walk around the place!
After Wai-O-Tapu, the rain stopped and it remained mostly cloudy. We had lunch at Huka Falls, a fast-flowing waterfall amidst the beautiful blue Waikato river. This river is amazing, it’s a bright light blue color near the falls, then turns a clear dark blue/green later on. 6-7 of us opted to take a walk along the river and into Taupo, a nice walk through the forest. We finally reached the hot pools, nestled in the forest next to the river. I think this pretty much defines paradise! The in-most one was SCORCHING HOT, it literally burned my feet and turned my legs pink. Yet somehow 3 of us managed to get in it. Not me though, I’ve already been burned enough. But it was a pretty hidden pool with a waterfall. The next one further down was perfect, warm but not scorching. We mostly just sat there, occasionally wading into the cooler river. Perfect. It was me, Jocelyne (16, Germany), Jeanette (16, Germany), Francois, and Grace (23, Aussie), while Kendra and Jackie stayed dry.
We walked into Taupo, just me, the German girls, and the Frenchman. We watched some people bungy over the river and it actually wasn’t that high up. I definitely am content on the ground, no adrenaline needed! We walked into Taupo and got NZ’s Hokey Pokey ice cream (so good) and browsed some shops. It was nice exploring with other people for once, but at the same time I almost wished I were on my own to explore and do my own thing – it’s the only way you get to see and do everything you want. But it’s all good… except for my eye, which is still bothering me!
A ton of people in the group had wanted to go skydiving, but due to weather they couldn’t. We drove past the mountains (Tongariro and Ruapehu) to our camp, which had a nice kitchen and lounge to sit in (or charge batteries in!). Our cook group had a BBQ, I helped make the salad but as usual, too many people and not enough work. The salad ended up being AMAZING (with feta cheese and some dressing I actually liked), and BBQ chicken was good too. There was a nice sunset over the mountains and a nice cat that was roaming the campground.