10.02.2012 24 °C
At last the chance to put something down for our first few days. Sorry no photos but hope to be able to download some soon.
Yes it is a very long flight, and due to my fight with a yoghurt pot, I was not a pleasant sight in Sydney airport on Wednesday morning. Thankfully though, all the flights were on time, we caught them all, and ended up in Auckland at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon. The rest of that day was spent staying awake and seeing as much of Auckland as we could. A trip up the Sky Tower was a must, especially as we were staying in the hotel attached. This proved to be the highlight of the afternoon, with 360 deg views and the chance to see how Auckland is located between two superb bays, with yachts everywhere, proving that the City of Sails is well named. The tower gave us the chance to see the other attractions of Auckland that we didn't have time to visit. Sadly we couldn't keep awake to sample much of the nightlife and were snoring by 9pm.
Thursday morning started early with my phone ringing at 5.30am (4.30pm UK time). Needless to say I didn't answer it, but we took advantage of the early start and picked up our hire car (a Toyoto Corrolla since you ask), and headed out of the city. Deciding that our next stop was achievable by lunchtime, we decided on a Martin detour (some will know what I mean here!). The roads are clear and driving on the left is a major advantage, but where are all the motorhomes that we were told was the favourite form of transport for touring? We headed east to the Bay of Plenty and admired the golden sands and turquoise sea, fronted by the cream of NZ's real estate. I know where I'm buying a holiday home when the lottery comes up.
Heading in Rotoura, our next stop turned out to be a cracker. Perched on the edge of Lake Rotoura with gardens running down to the lake, our Lodge is first class. Taking advantage of loungers in the garden, we spent a happy couple of hours in the sunshine (did I tell you it's been sunny here since our arrival, average 24-25 deg). We had to drive into Rotoura for our evening meal and managed to forget our way back to the car afterwards, but got there eventually.
Today we have visited two Thermal resorts: Whakarewarewa, where the tour showed us through a Maori village with boiling pools, hot springs, and a geyser, Pohutu, which erupts around 20 times a day. The Maori use the boiling water for cooking and bathing, and we were treated to a traditional show, including the haka, which was excellent. The second thermal resort, Hell's Gate was a complete contrast, a stark, bleak landscape full of boiling mud and water. The smell of sulphur, while constant at the first resort, was strong and sometimes overpowering. We had to keep to the paths everywhere - even the ground underneath our feet felt hot. Needless to say, Martin thought this was fabulous, but I preferred the earlier visit.
Well I think that's enough for now. Hope to send you some more in 2 or 3 days.