Wai-O-Tapu Mud Pools, Rotorua

These are the Wai-O-Tapu Mud pools, something totally unique to experience and fascinating watch.

It’s a free activity to go and watch and wander around.  There are some aspects of the area which you have to pay for, but this one is free.

The sulphur smell wasn’t too bad either.

I guess it is habit to assume it will be bad.

This particular geothermal feature is 45 metres across and the temperature ranges from 60℃ and 80℃ in the pools but can reach 100℃ in the steam.

This feature cannot be aged as the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal system is several thousand years old. It was significantly impacts about 650 year ago when Mount Tarawera erupted. Many hydro-thermal eruptions were triggered in the Waiotapu area at that time, (i.e. many of the larger crater lakes lie in craters formed at that time).

Hamurana Springs, Rotorua

Hamurana Springs truly has to be one of my favourite places, yeah I know I have not been to many places here yet but I loved this one!!  I mean look at it, it is beautiful.

I suppose it helps that we were lucky with the weather, it looked like it was going to rain all morning, but it did brighten up for us in the afternoon.

The springs have a little history to them and if you want to see that, please click here.

As you arrive at the springs this is the first view of the river you get.
The view crossing the bridge.

There are even a few black swans and ducks there enjoying the peacefulness of the river and the sun.  Although black swans are not native to New Zealand, they do seem to thrive here.


The Hamurana Springs Reserve is a taonga (treasure) to the people of Ngati Rangwewehi whose association with the land goes back to the 1300s. There are several springs throughout  the reserve with the main spring being Te Puna-a-Hangarua, named after Hangarua, Ngati Rangwewehi chieftainess.
Previously the Hamurana River was known to the Ngati Rangwewehi as the Kaikaithuna. The area was heavily cultivated with gardens on both sides of the river and was a rich source of food for local inhabitants as well as iwi (tribes) from the coast who traded kai moana (seafood) for the bounties of the land and bush. The river also provided kokopu, inagna, toitoi and koura (other Maori food).
Just some of the path we walked along.
I loved the views of the lake.

The name Hamurana is a Maori version of Smyrana, mentioned in the Bible (Revelation 2:8-11). In former times a Christian church stood on this site. Today Smyrana is the Turkish city of Izmir.

Tell me this place doesn’t look like paradise.
Today the reserve is cared for by the Department of Conservation (DOC), Ngati Rangiwewehi, the Hamurana Golf Club and the local community group: Hamurana Springs Incorporated Society (HSIS).
Some of the giant redwoods.

There is loads of redwoods here too, although they are not native to New Zealand they do seem to thrive here.  I should have really stood next to one so you can see how big they are.

The viewing platform for the Te Puna-a-Hangarua Spring.
It is the main one here which is the largest in the North Island.  The spring is named after  Hangarua, a chieftainess of Ngāti  Rangiwewehi and was the lair of Hinerua – The Kaitiaki taniwha.

On the 9th January 1957 more than 5000 pennies dating from 1860 were recovered by Messers. Strong, Tomlin and Huntley who were pioneer skin divers of Wellington.  All of these were distributed by Rotorua Jaycees to children’s charities.

The rock surrounding this spring is volcanic in origin. The spring water travels down from the Mamaku Plateau through underground aquifers. This journey takes 70 years.

From the Springs, the water flows into the Kaitkaitahuna River, into Lake Rotorua then through the Ohau Channel into Lake Rotoiti. From there is tumbles over Okere Falls and down to the Kaituna River. It enters the Pacific Ocean at Maketu where Tamatekaoua landed in the Arawa canoe in 1350.

Some facts about the Te Puna-a-Hangurua

  • The height of the spring above sea level is 280 metres.
  • The depth of the spring is about 15 metres.
  • The temperature is a constant 10℃.
  • Around 4,500 litres of water flow out of the spring each hour
  • It tastes beautiful 😉
Heaven.
The Kauaenui Dancing Sands Spring.

You cannot really see it here, but the Kauaenui Dancing Sands Spring is where the sand / dirt is moving at the bottom of the river.  That is because of the pressure of the water coming through the earth is pushing upward and moving the sand.

I love how clear the water is and the colour of it too is amazing.
Even got to see a couple of rainbow trout. This one is a female.

 Someone has made a weaving out of the flax that was around the springs.

Okere Falls, Bay of Plenty

Okere Falls is a great spot for some rafting, the river this is a part of is Kaituna River which is the name you may recognise if you have ever been to New Zealand.  It’s a very popular place to go for white water rafting in the North Island with the seven foot drop.

It starts out as a little bit of a bush walk to get to but it was lovely being in the shade as it was so hot when I went.

A bit of a bush walk.
The start of the water.

I am always shocked when I look at the below photo, it is like, ‘how can you white water raft down here?’
Just keep scrolling and you will see the 7 foot drops that follow this river.

Calm, before the storm.
Lovely peaceful view.
Okere River is the traditional river of Ngati Pikiao, who have made their home here for many years. In 1984, the Waitangi Tribunal confirmed Ngati Pikiao as the traditional owners of the river.
The river’s other name Kaituna (Kai = food, tuna = eels) reveals much about its significance as a food source. Below the main waterfalls are numerous large eels holes. Further down the river, whitebait were caught in great numbers, koura (freshwater crayfish) were another local delicacy.
Okere Falls is the site of one of New Zealand’s first hydro-electric power stations, and you are still able to see evidence of it’s existence.
Okere Falls is a well-formed bushwalk with scenic lookouts over the Okere River and it’s spectacular falls.
From the main lookout platform by Hinemoa’s steps you can watch rafters over the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.
The highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world

I did just catch the guys in the boat going down it, it looks like so much fun, maybe I will get the opportunity to do the same before I leave.

These guys looked like they did the trip through Kaitiaki, but there are a few different places to book through.  I would even suggest looking at Groupon or bookme.

This was a turbine which was retrieved from the remains of the remains of the dynamo or power house which formed part of the Okere Falls Power Station on the Kaituna River.  It was one of two Waverley Horizontal turbines originally installed in the dynamo house.  These turbines were water driven and connected to two 50 kilowatt generators, enabling 100 kilowatt output.

Here is where it was pulled from.

There are even caves here, you cannot go too far down into them as they are blocked off due to an earthquake which made it unstable, I am not sure which one did it as there are hundreds every day.

But I captured what I could see, there wasn’t much but I loved the bright green moss on the walls, it was super soft to touch.

I loved the colour of the moss on the walls.
I even managed to get a selfie with the river. I couldn’t get one of me with the falls though.

Some of the many lakes in Rotorua

Rotorua has many different lakes, in fact there are 20 lakes within a short distance from Rotorua. Don’t believe me?  Have a look here.

It started off a little dark this morning, due to the weather being rainy and horrid.  In fact the first proper day I have had to wear trousers (rather than shorts) just to keep warm.  It did get a little muggy at one point, but that was before the heavens opened and down came the rain to clear it up.

This is Lake Okareka, there isn’t too many areas of this lake were you can actually get to by car as a most of it is surrounded by thick wooded areas.

I even considered putting my feet in the water.  I didn’t as we didn’t stay too long.

There is even a little geothermal activity going on in the hills, can you see the steam?
It’s happening here too.
We even got to watch the ducks swimming and diving for food.
Tikitapu Lake and Rotokakahi Lake where next, they are also known as Blue and Green lake.  Apparently when the sun is shining you can see the blue and the green lake glisten their own colours.
Unfortunately for the bad weather I couldn’t see this, however they were still beautiful.
Here are some facts about the Tikitapu / Blue Lake;
  • Tikitapu / Blue Lake was named as the place where the daughter of a high born chief lost her sacred greenstone necklace.
  • The lake is 150 hectarea in size and the deepest point is 27.5 meters.
  • There is no surface outlet so it is believed that the lake drains via an underground outlet to Lake Rotokakahi.
  • The lake formed approximately 13,500 years ago.
  • The lake gets its blue colouring from above due to reflection from white rhyolite and pumice bottom.
Tikitapu / Blue Lake.
Here are some facts about Rotokakahi / Green Lake;
  • Named after the shellfish taken from the lake, Kahahi.
  • 440 hectares in size and the deepest point is 32 meters.
  • Flows to Lake Tarawera via the Te Wairoa stream.
  • The lake was formed approximately 13,300 years ago.
  • The lake is privately owned by local iwi (Maori), this lake is sacred (tapu).  No boating, swimming or fishing is permitted.
Rotokakahi / Green Lake.
Both of the lakes together.
A Female Cicator.

This is a Cicator and a female one at that, I believe it is the male ones which make the screeching noise and the females make the clicking type noise. It was quite cool to watch, when she started moving though, I moved away.

Lake Tarawera is below and you can see how big this one is.  You can often get boats from the jetty below to the other side of the lake.
Lake Tarawera.
The clouds starting to roll in.

Government Gardens, Rotorua – originally known as Paepaekumana

The Government Gardens are beautiful, I really do love wandering around here.  They are just a short walk from the I-Site (information centre) and it is pretty impressive.

The main entrance to the gardens.

The arches are made of wood and they used to span the intersection of Fenton and Hinemoa Streets. Click here to see the distance on a map. They were designed to represent the royal crown. They were erected in 1901 to honour the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary).

All of these totems at the front are different and they are said to represent different meanings.

The back of the entrance gates.
The Government Gardens is also home to the Rotorua Museum and the building looks pretty impressive.
Rotorua Museum.

Unfortunately I was unable to get into the museum as there is some restoration works still taking place. It is because of the earthquakein Christchurch six years ago.  This museum sits on the same fault line and got damaged.  There is plans for the place to be fixed but they think this may take two years before the place is open again.

It still looks beautiful from the outside!

Even some of the windows have colour glass which looks lovely.
The museum was originally known as the Bath House in 1908 and it is the only original surviving building from the first 45 years of the Rotorua spa. The building represents the New Zealand Government’s first major investment in the tourism industry.

It was an Edwardian attempt to create a spa in an Elizabethan style of architecture. The building once provided treatments to thousands of people before it closed in 1966.

The view from the front of the museum of the rest of the gardens.
The Wiatukei Sculpture.

 

The bronze sculpture was unveiled in June 2001 to mark the new millennium.  The inspiration for this sculpture came from the melding of Maori and European cultures in the area.

Below are a few more images from the garden, including some of the lovely flowers which were in bloom.

Even the bees were busy.
red Wylie, a young soldier from Galatea

This memorial commemorates Fred Wylie, a young soldier from Galatea who fought in the Boer War with the fourth New Zealand Contingent. He was the son of the first store keeper in Rotorua, Joseph Wylie, and a member of the unit called ‘Rough Riders’, he was killed leading an attack at Klipfontein on 26th May 1901.

Pretty gazebo.

How I made my long haul flight better

The long haul flight.
To be honest I both love and hate this part.

I love it simply for the fact that I will be travelling and experiencing something new, once the flight is over of course.

I hate it because of many more reasons; it’s uncomfortable, tiring, lack of space to move around and general boredom as there is not too much to do.

I have this simple list of things I did to make it more comfortable, I’m sure you have probably heard them before but some you may not.

The obligatory wing photo from the plane over the alps.

 

  • Wear something comfortable

Yeah I know the most obvious one ever right?
Wrong, I have seen some people wear jeans and really nice ‘pretty’ tops which to me seems completely bizarre.
I simply wore my jogging bottoms and a singlet (vest top – yes I kept that word from Australia) a fleece jacket.  I also wore my comfy trainers but took them off when I was on the plane.

  • Take empty water bottle

Did you know you can take an empty water bottle through security at airports? Well this is a new one for me, I used to be that person who would throw away my empty water bottle at the security section, but not any more.  As long as they can open the water bottle and check it is empty there is no problem.

You can then ask the flight attendants to fill up the bottle whilst on the plane.  That way you can have access to water when you want it.  Also you don’t have to just have the small portion they give you with the meals or spend a fortune on water at the ‘duty free’ side of the airport.

  • Do not buy food before you get on the plane

OK, this probably only relates to long haul flights and obviously if you are REALLY hungry then yes I guess buying food in the airport it a good idea (If you don’t mind spending a lot of money).  Long haul flights serve you food not long after take-off and again before you land.  Therefore, spending the money on a meal before a long haul flight is a waste.

If you have dietary requirements, make sure you know what food options are available before you fly.  All you need to do it call them up and let them know.  I have met people who have told me they are diabetic and have been served nothing but a salad and some rice.  They are two things which should not be served to a diabetic as a meal alone.  Just call the airline, they should be able to accommodate your requirements.
If they cannot, look at the next point.

  • Take snacks 

OK so I was not as prepared for this one on my flight to New Zealand, however I will be more prepared going forward.
I have read you can take snack with you to save you some money. I am not really one for aeroplane food, but I just made do with this flight.

I would suggest things which can be bagged up securely.  Also if you want to be polite to all other people on the plane, maybe don’t pick the smelliest food you can find. Like egg sandwiches, why would you do that to everyone else??

  • Change the time zone – This is my favourite one and totally works for me.

When you are sat on the plane ready to taxi to the runway, change the time zone on your watch or phone. I know, you haven’t landed yet so why change the time before you have gotten there?

Trust me – do it.

Once you have changed to time think about what you would be doing normally?  Should you be going to sleep?  Should you be staying awake for this flight and maybe asleep for the next one?

Then stick to that thing you would normally be doing.

For my flight to New Zealand, I had to sleep the first flight and then be awake for the second one.  I stuck to this and I didn’t suffer too badly with jet lag.

  • Change clothing / underwear at the lay over

Long haul flights are horrid because (if you fly to New Zealand from England) it can take 24 hours or more.  Do you stay in the same clothes at home for more than 24 hours?  No?  I didn’t think so, so why do it for a flight?

When I got into Kuala Lumpur for my change over I got to have a bit of a wash and change my clothes.
Now I know this is not the same as at home where you can have a full shower to feel super clean and walk to your closet and get out some freshly washed clothes.  But this really does make you feel a lot better for the second part of the journey.

  • Baby wipes

These are your best friend when flying / travelling (see above).

When you are sitting in such close proximity of hundreds of people without fresh running water it is a little disgusting.  I personally like to feel clean so flying can sometimes feel a little nightmarish to me.

  • Moisturiser and lip balm

Have you ever noticed that your skin and lips can feel very dry when on a plane?

Well this is pretty self-explanatory then.

  • Tooth brush & paste

This is another way to feel clean so make use of the bathrooms at the airports to help feel a little cleaner.

  • Scarf

Those who have met me know I love my scarves.  I like the bigger ones when I am flying.  I can then use it as a blanket or you can wrap it around a fleece (see that fleece came in handy) and use it as a pillow without the annoying zip getting in the way.

There are some many other uses for scarves, you can turn them into a bag to make sure you can carry your things (best use a square one for this, tie opposite corners together. Then tie the other corners together over the first knot – you can then be able to use the second knotted part as a shoulder bag).

You can use it as an eye mask to make it dark enough for you to sleep, I also use this tip for the beach too.  When the sun is too bright and hurting my eyes I rest it over my eyes and voila no more sore eyes!!

Obviously, you can use it as something to sit on, as a sarong, even use it for clothing if you happen to have a mishap.

If anyone wants to know other things you can use a scarf for, let me know and I will do a post for how I often use scarves.

I would also love to hear from you if you have any other tips and tricks to make long haul flights better.

Kuirau Park, Rotorua and the legend of the lake

Kuirau Park is a great place to walk around, it is totally free and you get to see some of the geothermal activity. It is near the centre of town and a short distance from the I-Site.
There is even a legend – so keep reading.

When I arrived in Rotorua, I met up with Denise, my cousins wife.  She took me back to theirs after the bus journey and showed me around.  We then headed over to the Kuirau Park for a wander.  It really is lovely and strange to see all this geothermal activity.  There are fences around all of it, but because the world is constantly changing there is new activity popping up in the park all the time.

One of the first steaming pools I came across whist walking around the park.
There are lots of these danger signs all over the park.
I couldn’t get my head around the steam coming off the earth like this.

It doesn’t smell as much as you think it would. Yes you can smell the sulphur (rotten eggs) but it’s not too bad.  There are other areas of Rotorua where you can smell it pretty badly.  Look out for those places in my following posts.

This tree had been bleached by some of the natural chemicals in the water and steam.
Some of the chemicals appear in bright colours, often in oranges, whites and sometimes green.

Natural geothermal activity can present itself in many different forms but is mostly classified as either an Alkaline Chloride feature or an Acid Sulphate feature, both of which can be seen at Kuirau Park.

Alkaline Chloride features are clear water springs forced speedily to the surface by geothermal pressure from deep underground. In prehistoric times sinter (a crust of porous silica) was deposited in and around the surface vents from the spring water. Today the chemistry of the springs in Kuirau Park is different. The hot water contains higher levels of bicarbonate and lower levels of the mineral silica. This has reduced the amount of white silica being deposited in and around the pools. Therefore lowering the groundwater table and concentrating the flows in channels may also result in less deposition and silica in Kuirau Park.

Me posing in front of the highest point in Kuirau Park.
Not quite bubbling mud, because it had been raining quite a bit lately.

The next couple of pictures have to be my favourite around the park.  It has such a prehistoric feel and look. Some of it looks like a dinosaur should be making it’s way across the burnt out forest.

Really prehistoric looking.

Can you see the white parts?  That is the silica mentioned before.

The steam had cleared a little here.
Mores of the alkaline and acid deposits.
And again.
I couldn’t understand why the earth looked so cracked when they were all under water. If anyone knows why this would be, I would love to hear from you.
The view from the look out point across the lake Kuirau.

The Lake Kuirau used to be called Lake Tawakahu and was cool enough to bathe in.

According to Maori legend a beautiful woman named Kuirau used to swim in this lake. Tamahika, Kuirau’s husband, said that the lake belonged to her: however a large Taniwha lived in the lake. The Taniwha used to watch the girl swim until he could stand it no longer, and one morning rose up and seized her.
Maori believed that Kuirau either died of fright because she was so terrified, or that she was taken back to the Taniwha’s lair. Whatever happened she was never seen again. The gods were so angry that they made the lake boil to get rid of the Taniwha.
From that day on the lake was called Lake Kuirau in memory of beautiful lady who used to swim in the waters.

Some of the temperatures in the pools of water reach 212 degrees Celsius.

More of Lake Kuirau.
There is also a lot of garden style area’s where you can walk around and even put your feet in some of the hot pools.  These ones are obviously not 212 degrees Celsius.
I’m not sure if you can see it, but the purple flower is called PaaneKeenake. It is native to New Zealand and is found through out the country.
The moss on the tree is called Arching Clubmoss.

There are a few odd sculptures around Rotorua too, the one below is just known as the sculpture in the park.  I couldn’t find much more information than that, I don’t know who designed / built it or anything.  If anyone knows, please do pass the information on to me.

Can you remember I mentioned there is a hot pool area?  Where here I am with my feet in it, it’s lovely.

…and relax.

It was so hot, I couldn’t tell you the temprature, but obviously it was not 212 degrees Celsius.

The other end of the pool area where I was.

Otarwairere Bay & Kohi Point scenic track

It is another early start today. 7.30am and I am up and ready so we can head to Otarwairere Bay for a hike with Sandra and Doug. We cannot take the lovely Wilson though as no dogs are allowed on the Kohi Point scenic track.

Again this is totally free as it is a walk, I guess you may be getting the theme of this jounral, maybe I should change it to ‘Enjoy NZ for free’.  What do you think?

Anyway, you access the walk through Ohope (Oh-ho-pee) Beach and you can only complete the walk if it is low tide.  Hence our early start, well that and the fact that it was a little cooler early in the morning.

Ohope Beach.

This walk is a definate must do whilst you are here. It can be a little tiring but it is totally worth it. Keep reading to find out why.

Through the trees.
On the way up looking back. This is not the highest point though.
Still going up, but here is Otarwairere bay.

So I didn’t get too much more for on the way up, but I got loads whilst on the beach.  Also, can you see why you need to go at low tide?  Yep you guessed it.  The tide comes right up so you cannot see much of anything when the tide is in.  I heard a few horror stories of some tourists getting trapped here because they didn’t realise the tide was coming in.

Half of this beach is covered in shells and then the other half is sand. It’s like there is a straight line and the two do not mix. It is bizarre but really pretty.
A tree growing out the side of the mountain.

 

I thought this tree was pretty cool, it’s growing out of the rock but it was not getting enough water.  The main root had grown down the outside of the rock and found a small hole to search for the water to keep it alive. The root was thicker than my arm.

Lovely Blue waters.
Look how clear the water is.
There were lots of these pretty patters in the sand from the sea.
Brew at the Beach. 🙂
Sandra and I.
The lovely Sandra and Doug.
Fishing boat.
Me sitting at the entrance of a small cave.

 

When I looked into this cave it looked like it would go on for miles.

View of the beach on the return walk.

This walk is a definite must whilst you are here.  I really cannot recommend this enough.

 

Mount Maunganui, Tauranga

It’s an early start this morning, Sandra is taking me to Tauranga so I can meet Harry and Rita.  Harry is my Nan’s cousin so I think that makes Sandra my cousin once removed.  I think??

Does anyone know how the cousin thing works?

Anyway, it was lovely to meet them both and we had a cuppa and a catch up.  We got to talk about the family tree and it was really interesting.  I’ve even mentioned a few names which he didn’t have so maybe he will add those too.

We then headed over to Mount Maunganui (Man-ga-nu-ee).

Mount Maunganui.

There is a walk all around the Mount which is what Sandra and I did. It is about 45 minutes to walk around the base of the mountain and it stands 232 meters above sea level.  The views are lovely.

This bronze sculpture by Frank Szirmay represents Tangaroa, Maori god of the sea.

To read more about the Frank Szirmay sculpture click here.

Makatana Island is in the background.

Click here for a map of the area, but over in the distance is Makatana Island. The Island has a population of about 250 people.

Karewa Island.

In the distance is Karewa Island.
Apparently you can see a lot of seals and dolphins around the island.

Another view from the Mountain.

The day we walked around the mountain was very hot, to the point where we had to buy ice-creams when we finished.

Whakatane and Sandra and Dougs House

I have arrived at Whakatane (pronounced Fuk-a-tan-ee) and it is lovely here.  I am staying here with a cousin of mine and he partner.

I was a little nervous getting on the bus as I have never met Sandra before. I had spoken to her via Facebook messages and a few text messages once I had arrived in New Zealand.  It is still a daunting thing to head to someones house who you have never met.  I mean what if this is some horrible joke to them.  They don’t meet you at the bus station like planned, then you never hear from them again. Scary right?

Luckily it wasn’t like that at all.  They are lovely people and I felt very welcome in their home. I did think that I wouldn’t recognise them when I got off the bus in Whakatane, however it was fine.  I was able to recognise them and after our hello’s we got in the car and drove the 15 minutes back to their house.  They are in a suburb of Whakatane called the Coastlands and I may be biased but it really is a perfect area to be.

They also have one of the cutest dogs I have met.

This is Wilson.
Mum / Susan – this is a proper dog size – not your beasts 😉

They also have a unit to rent and I got a tour around it. It is amazing and I definitely recommend to anyone wanting to get away to the Coastlands. I was stunned by how much space they were renting out, it is litterally half of their house, there is parking and you can fit six people to sleep in there.  So splitting the cost almost works out to dorm costs, seriously go and check it out. It’s called Sunrise Accommodation.  Click on the name to see where you can book it and also some pictures of the place.  It may seem a little expensive, but trust me it is worth it.

Here is the outside to tempt you to click on the link…go on, do it.

 

Did I mention, you also get your own garden area and access to a barbecue.

It is basically a flat to yourselves and Sandra and Doug are so friendly and will point out some things you need to do whilst here.  Hopefully I do not steal their thunder but I have written a few things below on what is around here that I experienced.

Whakatane Beach

Is less than a five minute walk from their home at the end of their road and it amazing.  You can see Moutohora (Whale) Island just off the coast as clear as day.  You can also see Moutoki Island and Rurima Island if you follow the beach down.

This is Moutohora (Whale) Island
Another image of Whale Island with the sea crashing.

 

Whakatane Beach
In the background you can just about see White Island.

I have not been to White Island yet, but I hoe to go there next time I am in Whakatane.

 

Ohope Beach

I am not going to talk too much about this as I am going to do a separate post because there is loads to say about this amazing beach.
It is about a 20 minute drive from Sandra and Doug’s House.

Whakatane River

There is a lovely walk along the river in Whakatane which takes about an hour there and back for the part we did.  I’m sure it goes a lot longer if you walk the other end of it too. It was lovely in the evening and I recommend doing the walk.

I love the colours in this one!
The sun started to set, but it wasn’t quite low enough for all of the beautiful colours.