Using our new umbrella on the black pebble beach in Napier
9:00 am Go past Waiotapu and Waimangu to Wairakei
(geothermal power) and on to Huka Falls before stopping at Lake Taupo. Independent lunch and exploration. Continue on to Napier for talk on town and
walking tour of Art Deco Quarter.
Today started out well; we didn’t need to put the luggage out for pick up until 8:15am and board the bus until 9. We shared a table with Gordon, Alan, Sandie, Rick and Carol for breakfast in the hotel.
We're watching mud. . . I'm photographing mud. Talk about excitement!
The buffet had fresh mandarin oranges!
And it wasn’t raining - at least not at the moment we left the hotel.
Tomati was our bus driver again (after a day at home) and he drove us from Rotorua through the center of the North Island. The scenery changed into streams lined with cottonwood trees and steam rising from the banks. This is a geothermal area and has one of New Zealand’s two geothermal power generators. We stopped to see some mud pools with steam escaping. You could hear the “plop, plop” of the ejected mud long before seeing the pools. The mud had the consistency of chocolate pudding, a grey chocolate pudding, and the steam tossed bits of mud several feet in the air. There was lots of activity and it was fun to watch (it also had the usual sulfur smell for this region).
Next we saw the geothermal plant, and I still don’t understand how the energy conversion works but there were silvery pipes carrying the hot sulfur-rich steam across the landscape. The pipes occasionally rose up into expansion tubes and everywhere steam rose from vents. A very strange landscape, followed by a beautiful one - waterfalls at Huka Falls. Next we went next to Taupo, a town on Lake Taupo and had lunch. My husband and I walked along the lakefront and found a café before hunting up a place to buy an umbrella. The day had turned from cloudy to rainy and we really needed an umbrella.
The drive east from Taupo to Napier was rainy but spectacular as we climbed over a series of low mountains to reach the Pacific coast.
A rainbow over the beach
The mountains held the rain back until we got part way through a walking tour of Napier.
Then it poured - that umbrella was a godsend.
In 1931 the town of Napier was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake which raised the land up 7 ½ feet in 2 ½ minutes. Not only were many buildings destroyed by the quake but subsequent fires swept thru town. The water mains were broken and the firemen had no water to put out the fires. All they could do was try to rescue people trapped in the rubble before the fires reached them. That day 164 people died in this town.
The survivors rebuilt the town in the Art Deco style of the period and it looks a lot like Miami South Beach (with less neon). We checked into our hotel and walked around the shopping area, then did a little beach-combing and finally went to dinner. The day finished well too - with a rainbow over the beach after the rain quit.