Sunday 27th October – part 1

We left our cabin at 9am and drove back north for 10 minutes until we arrived at Wai-O-Tapu.
We had been recommended it as the best place to see the geothermal activity.
It was a very large area.
We had time to walk the first loop track of 1.5km.
The notice boards were very interesting so instead of me deciphering them I have added photos to read.

Rainbow Crater
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Devils Ink Pots
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Opal Pool
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 The Boardwalk and The Terraces P1000434
The steam was really thick at times>
I did a panic when I was completely enveloped with it and lost sight of Azzan!P1000440
But he safely reappeared out of the mist, so all was good 🙂P1000441 P1000442 P1000443 P1000444 P1000445 P1000447 P1000451 P1000453
Birds Nest Crater
The swallows, starlings and mynahs nest in the holes on the wall of this crater and the heat incubates their eggs.
We did see a bird flying into one of the holes so it is true!!P1000459
Sulfur  Cave P1000463
Devils Bath
A very large spectacular poolP1000472

Then it was time to head up the road to see the Lady Know Geyser erupt.
By this time there were hoards of tourists so we joined the convoy.

Saturday 26th October – part 2

We drove half an hour down the Taupo highway and stopped at Mihi where we were booked to stay a night at the Golden Springs Holiday Park.
It was an older style place, but very centrally located to the geothermal places I was wanting to visit.
It was good to arrive early and have time to explore.
I was initially a bit concerned that I had made a mistake with the booking as the unit seemed a bit old and tired and quite cold.

But it was okay, plenty of room to spread out and comfortable.
We went for a walk to explore and found a lovely valley area below the camp.
Found hot pools and a children’s play area.
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The children were quite grossed out when they waded into the hotpools and felt the bottom – Mahalia kept squealing very loudly as she imagined things down there cuz she couldn’t see the bottom!
I suggested that they come back a bit later for a swim – ‘maybe’, they agreed!
Someone has been busy clearing away undergrowth to create a lovely spot down there.
Mahalia and I wandered over to the cafe next door.
Mihi Cafe, decked out in 1950’s retro style.
Lovely atmosphere and we overheard favourable comments about the food.
We bought some lollycake to take back for afternoon tea.
Mahalia found this heart shaped puddle on the way back, so made two more 🙂
Then we crashed out on the couch and relaxed – the kids were delighted to find ‘The World’s Strictest Parents’ show was on.
What the children did not know was that I had been in contact with Joanna for the past few weeks and we had arranged to meet up today.
We were travelling south and they are traveling north.
So we were sitting quietly watching the show when all of a sudden 3 kids burst in the door.
Talk about surprise and delight!
After they had jumped around and gotten used to the fact that Nicky, Melanie & Benji were actually here they got themselves changed and headed down to the pools.
Funnily enough the eeew-ing and squealing about not going in there earlier disappeared in the fun of having friends with them and we couldn’t get them out!
They had a wonderful time.
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I was getting a tad bored after a while and was quite glad when Frankie drew attention to the sign which said they should have no more than 20mins in there at a time.
So we dragged them out very unwillingly and then the progression through the shower began.
I made drinks and we ate the lollycake and crackers.
Finally Frankie made the call and said, ‘20mins till we leave’.

Mahalia & Melanie milked every last second, I managed to get some photos of them to last till they see each other again.
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Joanna & Frankie and the kids are leaving for Paraguay next month and it will possibly be at least 2 years until they return.
So Mahalia & I are saving up for a trip over there.
I will also have to add Spanish lessons to our curriculum I think 😉
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They finally pulled out and left for the next leg of their journey north.
We crashed out on the couches and watched some tv.
Mahalia was handling the goodbyes better than I thought she would.
Although she did say she was crying on the inside :-/
I was so tired and cold I curled up in my downie and Azzan’s dressing gown and let the kids make dinner.
They made pizza with the wraps.
It was delicious.
I finally turned off the tv at 10pm and we have all crashed into our own beds.
Tonight we get a bed each in a room each – luxury 🙂

Saturday 26th October – part 1

Too nice a morning to stay wallowing in bed so I got the kids up by 8am.
I hopped in the shower and told them they had to be up and packed by the time I was dressed.
The motel has a very efficient drying room run on geothermal heat.
I had hung all our wet swimming gear in there last night so I popped down and got that and then began loading the car.
Azzan helped me take the bags down to the car while Mahalia packed up the food.
We were away soon after 9am.
We had been recommended the Rotorua Museum so I wanted to spend some time there before we left town.
It is the original Rotorua Bath House and is in immaculate condition.
It was built back in 1908 but never completed as they ran out of money.
Building was completed finally in 2011.
It has a magnificent entrance.
And upstairs a glorious bay window.
Thirteeen marble sculptures adorned the foyer/pumproom of the Bath-House – Dr Wohlmann hoped that the luxuriously appointed foyer would serve the same social purpose as the pumproom of an English spa or the kursaal in a German establishment!
Twelve of them were originally bought from a Melbourne sculptor, Charles Francis Summers.
They were purchased by the Department of Tourism and Health Resorts for £2000.
These are some of the sculptures on display today.
The Chariot of Love
The First Whisper of Love
Two Friends
Susannah Surprised by the Elders
A Bacchante and the Infant Bacchus
Venus Victrix

We watched an excellent film starring local lad,  Temuera Morrison telling us of the history of the place and very graphically recounting the story of the eruption of Mt Tarawera both in terms of natural understanding and in Maori lore.
It was fantastic, especially when our seats shook, rattled and moved violently as the quakes hit.

From there we climbed many many stairs upstairs onto the roof.
There is a wonderful 360’ view showing the beautiful roof construction and beyond across the lake and city.
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There were tv screens giving pertinent accounts about things along the way.

We also went down underneath where all the pipes and some mudbaths were.
Bit earie really.
Azzan thought it would be a great place to film a horror movie!
There is a tv screen inside this boiler showing the part of the movie with the taniwha zooming out to get you!!
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Then we explored more of the treatment rooms upstairs.
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There was a wonderful wing depicting Maori history and arts etc.
No photos or filming in there.
Also several art displays.
It all kept us busy for several hours.
We left just before midday.
Stopped off at Starbucks for a drink and headed out of town.

On the way we popped in to Whakarewarewa.
I wanted to take the children to visit the Maori village.
However, on making enquiries I realised we wouldn’t have enough time to do the visit justice so added it to the list for next time.
There were three young Maori kids from the village down at the river calling up to the tourists to throw coins for them to dive for – most amusing 🙂
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Friday 25th October -part 3

When we had finished our walk – the kids were keen to do it all over again!!
We arrived back at the carving house and were given a choice of coaster designs to carve.P1000178
Azzan had some difficulty with handling the tools so the master carver assisted him.
The worked together as a team 🙂P1000179
Mahalia carved the fern.
Azzan the kiwi and I did the koru.
When I was talking with the carver while he oiled my carving he commented to me that the koru represented nurturing and that my deep lines showed I was a deep nurturer 🙂
Then we went and gave our feet a mud soak.
That was deliciously lovely 🙂P1000185 P1000187
From there we went on to the next phase of our adventure.
The Mud Spa.
It was absolutely divine, massaging the mud into ourselves and soaking in it.
Such a soothing and healing thing to do.
We were only allowed a maximum of 20mins in there – carefully timed!P1000189Then a shower to wash off the mud.P1000192And into the spa pools.
We could stay in these pools for as long as we wanted.
They were all around 40’C.
Chilled water was provided for us.P1000199The kids wanted to go up to the top pool and when I went up to try it out they told me to be really really careful as it was so very very hot.
I gingerly put my toes in and found it was  a cold pool.
Brats! 🙂P1000201 P1000204
I chatted with a lovely Japanese girl who was there with her mother.
Then we finally pulled ourselves out and went to shower and dress.
It was after 4pm when we left feeling very relaxed.
We made our way out to the Okere Falls.
Found out later that they are kayaked down regularly.
P1000214 P1000219 P1000220There were 60 very steep steps to go down and back up to see them, but the spa must’ve helped as I managed them without as much pain as before.P1000221
We then went to find Tim’s cousin Ann.
Had to go back to The Store and get directions.
There was a beerfest happening so cars for miles so I sent Mahalia in to ask while I double parked on the very busy road.
Finally located her and John’s house.
Such a magical place on the shores of Lake Rotoiti.
The threatening rain finally closed in while we were there so I didn’t get to explore their wonderful garden.
Next time we will do that plus John has promised to take us in his boat to the hot pools in the lake.
Lots of things to come back north to do!!
We pulled ourselves away around 6pm and drove back to Rotorua.
Stopped at the supermarket to stock up on supplies.
Then back to the motel.
Chilled out, hung wet things in the thermally heated drying room, Mahalia painted her nails and then we eventually had our dinner around 9pm.
It was pretty tasty – maybe more so cuz I was so darn hungry!P1000227

Friday 25th October -part 2

We were given a map showing us the way around the walk.
So we stowed our swimming gear in a bin provided for us and then set off on the walk.
The kids loved every bit of it.
They had not been to a geothermal area before so thought it was amazing.
Azzan kept saying that it was so ugly and yet so beautiful.
This was the entrance to the geothermal area.

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The steam vents began as soon as we stepped out of the office.P1000026
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We walked through a walkway to a larger geothermal area.P1000089
The Kakahi Falls were beautiful.
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There were beautiful camellia trees planted amongst the natives along the walk.
This was the prettiest one I saw.P1000097
The geothermal valley was rather spectacular in a moonscape sorta way.
There were names and descriptions of each place along the path.P1000103 P1000108The Devil’s Cauldron, containing three types of geothermal mud.P1000110 P1000122
This Mud Volcano is unique in New Zealand.
It has grown to 2.4m and is still growing.
Every 6 weeks the top hardens and then in 2-3 days the pressure builds up and erupts over an area of 5m!P1000126 P1000127
The hottest pool in the reserve is the Steaming Cliffs – 122’C at the surface and 144’C at 1m deep!
The boiling activity is constantly changing and can reach heights of 3m.
The wafting steam made it difficult to see at times.P1000135 P1000150 P1000151 P1000154P1000175

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It was a fantastic experience.
The kids loved it.



Friday 25th October -part 1

I was awake and showered by 7am.
We had talked about going on the buffet breakfast cruise last night.
Azzan was keen to come with me but Mahalia refused to get out of bed, so we left her sleeping.
I wasn’t sure if we would get on the boat as I hadn’t booked but there was plenty of room and we were welcomed by the captain, telling us to come on board and pay later!
The Lakeland Queen is an original paddle steamer.
Our breakfast was served as soon as we had all boarded.
We had 2 bus groups of Koreans join the cruise too.
Breakfast was hearty and wholesome.
Certainly not flash but a rendition of good Kiwi farming fare.
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Once we had finished eating we headed upstairs.
Went out on the bow in front of the wheelhouse.
It was a clearer view there but the wind was cold so didn’t stay outside too long.IMG_4386
Down the stern the paddles were pushing us along at a comfortable speed.IMG_4392IMG_4398 IMG_4412

It was a most enjoyable way to begin our day.
On the way back to the motel we went to Noel Leeming to look at cameras.
They only had 3 Panasonics in stock today, but one of them was very close to the one I damaged yesterday so after some deliberation I bought it.
Then we zipped back to the motel.
I was overwhelmed by then with absolute tiredness and just needed to rest.
Mahalia was only just getting through her shower so took a while to open the door, by which time we were getting very over waiting in the hall.
Sat and tried to get the internet working.
Just lost the plot, trying to work out what and where we are going next, couldn’t get information or maps or do any replies cuz the internet would not connect.
Was feeling so frustrated.
Ended up in tears, then took my laptop down to the desk and they sorted it of me and gave me a different unlimited connection which I really appreciated.
I was having an emotional morning and it wasn’t taking much to tip the balance.
I am really missing Tim, with my knee being so sore and my shoulder not great either I am feeling somewhat fragile and just need his arms to wrap around me and give me a big supportive loving hug.
I so miss his hugs.

Finally made some basic decisions as to what we could do.
Went back to the shops to get some towels and while in Farmers I found some different swimwear to what I saw in Whakatane.
While I was in the changing rooms I was aware of several older/elderly couples there.
The women were trying on clothes and their husbands were right there giving encouragement and advice.
It was so lovely to see and overhear.
I was once again overcome with a huge sense of emptiness and loss and longing to have Timmy sitting there helping me choose.
He hated the shopping process but when we did go shopping together he would find a chair nearby and sit patiently waiting,  giving his opinion on my choices – and making the most of the time out to rest his legs.
The concrete jungle wasn’t his favourite place to walk, because of his physical lopsidedness walking/standing on the hard even surfaces would eventually make his back really sore.
He was physically built for our hilly farm 🙂
I plucked up the courage to call an attendant to give me some advice on the swimsuit I had found.
She gave me the once over and agreed that it was a good fit, the colour suited me really well, and that I should get it.
So I did.
What a relief, I hate trying on things like that at the moment.
I have put on so much weight since the accident.
I hate being this heavy but I just haven’t the energy to put into losing it at the moment.
I am not eating the wrong foods, just eating haphazardly.
I am getting out and walking with the kids since we have been away but now my knee is giving me so much pain that is restricting things a bit.
I am not letting it depress me but it does get me down when I am trying on clothes :-/
I try and listen to Tim’s voice in my ear, he used to say to me when I would moan that I couldn’t fit my jeans, – ‘Just buy a larger size.’ 🙂

We drove on and did a wee tiki tour to show the kids the sights of the city.
Found Rachel Spring – Whangapipiro with a temperature of 212’F
Then we meandered around the streets and found ourselves at Ohinemutu.
St Faith’s is a beautiful old church.P1000003
We carried on around the lake front and out onto the end of a nearby peninsula.
It was teeming with birdlife.
These cute wee goslings came over to investigate us.P1000006 P1000015

We drove back around past the old Bath House building which is now the museum.P1000963

Then we found our way out of the city and were heading back towards Whakatane.
I discovered to my great frustration that Mahalia had not brought her togs or towel so I did a u-turn on the very busy highway and drove all the way back tot he motel so she could get them.
Then back on the road again out to Hells Gate.
Finally got there and decided to participate in everything on offer!

Thursday 24th October

The body was very creaky when I woke up at 6:30am today.
Mahalia is definitely not a morning person.
This is what I found when I went to wake her at 9am 🙂
I pottered about until the others got up.
Then while we breakfasted and packed I caught up my blog.
Donna headed off to work – after some photo fun 🙂
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The kids packed put he car for me.
We locked up and then headed off to Papamoa cuz I wanted to do some shopping there.
After a few false turns we found our way and I got the clothes I wanted.
Esquires was close by so we got some chillers.
But they were so horrid that they made us feel sick and we never finished them.
Won’t be repeating those 😦

Carried on towards Whakatane.
There were heaps of massive road constructions happening around Papamoa – really interesting to try and work out what they were doing.
We drove through Te Puke, talked about the kiwifruit industry there but didn’t stop.
The road followed the coast, Mahalia was taking photos out the window as we drove.
She was complaining because the scenery was too flat and boring compared to the hilly windy roads we have navigated.
Then found this cute wee place – Maketu.
Large wetlands area with this river flowing beside the road – someone has a sense of humour 🙂 P1100374

We drove through Whakatane followed the iPhone maps and it took us to the middle of somewhere in the suburbia so we rerouted ourselves and decided to head over Gorge Road to Ohope Beach.
I stopped at the top and Mahalia hopped out to take some photos of the view.
Later I found one of the view and 3 of her!!
We drove right towards the end of the ocean road and found this cutting down to the beach.
Azzan didn’t want to come so I left him in the car and walked down here to see the sea.
It was so pretty.P1100383

No-one anywhere.
The beach went forever each way.P1100384


Whale Island in the background.P1100387

Mahalia came down to see the sea too and she was so excited by the loveliness of the place she was dancing a jig 🙂P1100394 P1100393

Azzan came to see where we were.
I was really anxious as I had left my bag in the car with all my money etc in it.
He said he had locked the car but from past experience I knew that I needed to check that the windows were all up and everything was safe as the vehicle was just out of sight.
I turned to run back up the track, caught my toe on a piece of driftwood that was hidden in the sand and went flying flat on my face.
I sat stunned, covered with sand, and my toe and shin aching from the impact.
But the worst thing was, I had my camera in my hand and it hit the sand with a wallop and is now no longer working.
So the above photos were the last ones I took on it.
I borrowed Azzan’s camera for the rest of the day, which has no telephoto lens and is of lesser quality.
But at least I had that plus my iPhone.
We decided to head back to Ohope for lunch.
I was feeling somewhat fragile so we sat indoors and ate wedges and sour cream and drank copious amounts of cold water as the day had come out quite hot.

Then we drove to the western end of the beach and parked up so we could walk over the hill to Otarawairere Beach that everyone told us was very beautiful.
I wanted to do the walk so we set off towards the steps.
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It was mostly a manmade step and boardwalk track.
Quite steep in places.
I made it all the way up to the top.P1000934
The views were lovely along the way.
But when I went to start walking down the steps on the other side of the ridge, my knee put me into a pain orbit.
I just knew there was no way I could get down there and back up again with that amount of pain already.
So I opted to sit up top and wait for the kids.
But they decided not to go down and just wanted to help me back the way we had come.
I was aright as long as I had the railing to hold on to.
But where there was no rails the kids provided shoulders and hands to assist me.
I felt so bad that we couldn’t do the walk, but they kept reassuring me that it was okay.
We managed to get back to the beach and had a wander in the surf.
It was really pretty with the tide out leaving patterns on the sand.
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My two darlings who looked out for me today – sweet ones 🙂P1000923

We headed back to Whakatane and went to The Hub to look for a swimsuit for me and some shorts.
Mahalia found herself some shorts but there was nothing I liked.
Drove to the next wee place and fueled up and then carried on south to Rotorua.
It was quite cool going through new landscapes.
Dairy farms, forestry and then over hills and along beside the lakes.
Then we arrived in Rotorua and checked in at our motel – The RotoVegas.
Nice wee unit.
Azzan made himself at home immediately.
Margaret arrived to visit with us.
She had been wwoofing for us earlier in the year so it was lovely to be able to catch up with her again.
Kids went off for a quick swim.
Then we all walked down the street to the Thursday evening markets.
It was such fun.
A great atmosphere with locals, many different ethnic groups providing wonderful choices of food & crafts, tourists mixing with locals.
We found a table and chairs to sit at and I chatted with a couple of young travelers.
Alina from Israel and Rahel from Germany.
We exchanged names and contact details and will probably see them again when they come to the South Island.IMG_4365
Azzan was pretty rapt cuz he found the Pommie stall.
The lady was selling all sorts of food and drinks from the UK.
Azzan bought the last can of Dr Pepper – as you can see he was buzzing even before he drank it!!IMG_4366

We began wandering back to the motel around 8:30pm.
It was such a lovely mild balmy night.
I love the leisurely relaxed feel of night like this.
So calm and peaceful and in another way exhilarating.
Kids came back to the unit and I popped over to Countdown to get some yoghurt for breakfast.
And now it is time to hit the pillows.
Tonight I get the single bed and the kids are sharing the double.