Early morning, as the noisy Chinese on both sides slept on, T crept out for a walk around the lake, leaving D to dream on. T was rewarded with views across a silken lake, with steam rising at the shoreline. Duck families were bustling…parents calling wee ones to order, some wee ones ignoring advice, folks walking dogs, rowers and one crazy guy in swimming training! Again, the sky was a marvel and rising clouds may well have been steam from thermal activity.
On return, T found D up and reading the Oz news – not a good start to the day for him! But the visit to Huka Falls banished dark thoughts. This is a turbulent, violent, clean and bright demonstration of the power of nature as water rushes from the only exit of Lake Taupo in an almost horizontal narrow chasm. It is awesome.
As we returned to the car D (toolman) came to the rescue of a Polish father & son; the son’s spectacles had come apart, and the lad was asking, in very poor English, for some glue from the less than receptive volunteer at the kiosk who eventually understanding the request, but unable to help, sent him on his way. D overheard all this, and thought that the screw joining the arm to the frame was missing, a common occurrence, and offered a solution that involved fishing line. No, the arm was actually broken, so next solution was a bandaid…and of course D had the scissor tool (and the bandaid) to cut the bandaid into tiny strips. Very happy Polish tourists.
Then on to Orakei Korako, a small, less visited thermal activity area about 40 kms from Taupo. A little ferry took us across the river to a landing and then we followed the boardwalks/stairs up and around for a couple of hours. What a magical scene: colours of the algae, steam bubbling and gurgling and very few others to block the photo moments. From the shore it looked like the outflow from a particularly grubby rubbish tip, but close up the colours, textures, dimensions and forms of water were just gob-smacking. At a photo pause moment, T chatted to a guy who was seriously doing the business with a tripod. Yes, he said this was really frustrating for his 17 yr-old son who was in the car, bored as…and he’d already spent 2 hours earlier in the day, sitting in the car. T asked if the lad had a device to pass the time. The dad replied that yes he did and he had told his son to go right ahead and plug it in, but then they’d end up staying till the next day, by the time Road Service got out to rescue them. The photographer was in no hurry…he had magic moments to capture.
We were somewhat distracted from skywatch and the storm clouds gathered. Our reputations as drought breakers is, thankfully, now reassured, not least because we ourselves were caught in a heavy downpour about half way (of course) around the circuit. T suggested returning to a nearby shelter; all well and good but the sky offered no respite. But chivalry is still alive; D offered T his waterproof boots into which T could put her cork innersoles (these had to stay dry) and she hobbled, clutching her sneakers with D barefooting it to the ferry.
On to Rotorua, not by choice, but because of a missed turn… we were heading in more or less the right direction, so on we went. We had heard from several sources during the past 24 hours that a tour of Hobbiton (the Peter Jackson movie set) was a ‘must do’. Even if you are ignorant of Tolkein things, it is worth a visit we’d heard. Since we were in area, we thought why not? We’d be able to get info at the Visitor Centre. In Rotorua, the first thing that Judy at the counter of the i-Site said was: ’Take your weather back to Australia!’. We politely offered that the farmers we had spoken to were desperate for this rain: their green fields weren’t green enough and it hadn’t rained in a month. We don’t think NZ really knows what a drought is.
Anyway, Judy helped out by booking our visit to Hobbiton tomorrow, as well as accommodation in Cambridge (a small town close by), although she was a little surprised that we weren’t staying in Rotorua: ‘been before’ we added, although the real reason was ’too big, commercial and busy’.
Found Cambridge and our ‘Quiet Motel’, something from the 1970s that Norman Bates might have worked in (fortunately, no such ambience), but it is very clean and organized, although the bridge workers, who are out all night working on bridges, managed to park their various trucks in such a way that our little Mazda 3 had to wait until they’d gone to find its spot outside.