Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rotorua to Auckland

We all slept very well in our new accommodations - comfortable beds and walls separating the quiet one from the non-quiet ones were much appreciated! 
Up early again and started researching options for the day, eventually settling on a Wai-o-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland excursion.  It was about a 25-minute drive to there from the motel; we arrived in plenty of time to buy tickets and browse the gift shop before driving 3 minutes to get to Lady Knox Geyser for her daily 10.15 am eruption.  This geyser has an interesting history - apparently the area used to be close to a prison, and so prisoners would wash their clothes in the hot water.  One day their soap caused the surface tension of the cooler water on top to break, causing boiling water lower down to mix and erupt.  They were somewhat surprised!  Following that first discovery they built a mound around the source of the eruptions for amusement, forcing water to shoot up high.  The water now reaches 10-20m in the air and can go for about an hour, emptying the subterranean reservoir of about 30,000 litres of scalding water (the run-off seeps back under ground and is full again 24 hours later). 
Drove another short distance to The Mud Pools - this was really what Dad had come to Rotorua for and it more than met his expectations!  We all stared in fascination at the small lake of plopping mud, choking on sulphur steam as large clouds broke the surface.
Back to Wai-O-Tapu for an hour's walk through the reserve which was absolutely beautiful. Mom was happy NOT to do the whole walk, heading back after the first 30 minutes to sit patiently.  This first photo is called "Artist's Palette" - all the different colours in the rocks and water are from different minerals.
Back to Roto for a late lunch of KFC at Kuirau Park where the Little Brown Jobs were amazingly brave! 
Finally left Rotorua bound for Auckland around 3 pm; arrived at our hosts and long-standing family friends Ian and Alison Lange-Smith after 6 - thus began an evening of fellowship, much laughter, and an amazing home-cooked meal with vegetables!!

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