Rotorua New Zealand

Rotorua Travel Blog

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Beaches on East coast of North Island at Whangamata

Breakfasted and overheard young European guy reporting to the hostel that his wallet with cards, passport and money had been stolen overnight.  We felt safe in this hostel and were disapointed to hear this story.  Packed our bags and stowed them at the foot of the staircase and headed downhill to the car rental place.  Here we collected our pre-booked 4 cylinder Toyota Echo.  Collected our bags and headed out of Auckland to the east coast.  The first beach we hit was a delight with golden sands and a few islands scattered in the blue bay.  There were a few waves but not a huge surf.  Continued down the coast then headed inland to Rotorua.

Steam from thermal pools and geysers
  Followed the directions to the hostel that said it was lakeside and out of the sulphur smell often found in Rotorua.  It was about 15 kms taking us through a landscape where mountains swept down to pristine lakes.  Some had beaches which were obviously popular with local families for watersports, fishing and swimming.  Found our hostel which was a 3 bedroom area with kitchen and bathroom facilities underneath the family house on a hill overlooking Lake Okareka.  It was very modern, quiet location and the owner welcomed us with warm muffins and tea or coffee.  The garden was organic and we were invited to use anything from the garden for cooking. 

Next day we went into Rotorua and visited the thermal village of Whakareware, a living Maori village population about 70.  Our guide showed us which pools were used for cooking, bathing and washing.

Dancing with poi pois in grass skirts
  In the cooking pools bags of corn cobs could be dangled for 10 mins to be cooked.  Wooden boxes had been built over vents emiting steam and pots were put into them and the meats and vegetables were beautifully cooked by the end of the work day.  A free and healthy way of cooking.  At one point we were invited to gather around the guide and she jumped on the ground and we felt it move.  The crust is so thin in places.  A group of the villagers performed a Hakka and traditional dances with the women dressed in the grass skirts and using the Poi Poi balls.  A demonstration of the preparation of the flax was given to show how the skirts were dyed and eventually woven.

We felt we had time to drive to Lake Taupo in the afternoon and as we came around a bend Mt Ruapehu rose up with a surprising cap of snow!  The lake is a great spot for watersports with amazing views.

One of the many lakes near our hostel
  Back to our lakeside stay and we drove on to look at the Green Lake and the Blue Lake.

Sunday 4th December took us to Hamilton then out to the west coast to look at Raglan.  The town is based on an estuary and had black sandy beaches.  Out on the coast the paragliders were stepping off the cliffs and making a colourful display with their bright sails.  Would have chosen to stay here if we had known how beautiful it was.  Hamilon YMCA was a well run hostel with a beautiful back garden wih a path leading down to the river.

Monday 5th we  woke to light rain so decided to bypass Auckland city and go a bit north and to the west coast.  Near Helensville we found some thermal pools so it was perfect to while away an hour trying out three temperature of warmth to very warm!  Headed into Parnell Auckland again and this time we had booked at the Aloe Tree.  This hostel was full to bursting and the young crowd were a bit possesive of their domain I felt but we unloaded the car and Andrew took it back to the depot.  Covered over 1,000 kms in the 4 days and the economy was great.  Talked with a young German girl who was a lone traveller and a little bewildered in her surroundings.

Tuesday we breakfasted on the left over mushrooms on toast, packed our bags and stowed them in the office then walked to the ferry terminal to use our free ticket to Devonport.  Caught a link bus ($1.50 to travel as far round the circle as you wish) back to the hostel to wait for the transfer pick-up to take us to the airport.

Our flight was late getting in from Sydney and very full.  The Argentinian women's hockey team was on board and we departed for a long flight to Santiago, Chile.  We were on our way to South America and having no Spanish we were excited and curious as to how we would negotiate our way around.

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Beaches on East coast of North Isl…
Beaches on East coast of North Is…
Steam from thermal pools and geyse…
Steam from thermal pools and geys…
Dancing with poi pois in grass ski…
Dancing with poi pois in grass sk…
One of the many lakes near our hos…
One of the many lakes near our ho…
333 km (207 miles) traveled
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photo by: Vanessa_Mun_Yee