We packed up the van at about 10am after fried egg on toast again and lots of cups of tea (our milk was off but a lovely lady gave us what was left of hers as she was at the end of her holiday). We drove in to Rotorua and parked for free at the lake edge as everywhere else in town was metered and we knew we would be a while. Today for the first time in New Zealand for us it is raining and blowing a gale, just the type of day when you want to curl up on the sofa in your dressing gown watching rubbish TV – alas, no dressing gown and no TV so we chose to loiter around the library while we uploaded the blog and did some research on the internet. Well, let’s just say the clientele of the library was a little odd, we should have guessed as much as we were called a bunch of f***ing wan**rs as we walked in by a guy sat outside. Still we spent about 4 hours in there, sheltering from the elements and just watching the scary people go by (most of them were talking to themselves and reading the free newspapers) – perhaps that’s what I sound like when I’m unfortunate enough to be leafing through a copy of the Daily Mail.
Lunch was a slice of carrot cake and a couple of pieces of fruit and nut when we got back to the van – I know what you are wondering, how do we manage to keep our svelte figures? We drove over to Taupo, the world’s skydiving capital, down the Thermal Highway and the weather was so changeable, one minute it was bright sunshine, the next we would be driving through another rain storm, it was weird
. We called in at Orakei Korako, which the Lonely Planet considers the best thermal area left in New Zealand, only to find we were a bit too late to get the boat across. Besides I’m quite convinced I have seen enough thermal activity in the last few days and don’t need to spend another whole days budget visiting more geysers, bubbling mud pools, etc, surely it is mostly all the same from now on. Lady E disagrees but can’t explain why and therefore confirms we do indeed need another day of doubling budget spend. When we arrived at Lake Taupo it was blowing a right gale so we found somewhere to park up and for a change the lady cooked. Earlier in the day we had visited Pak and Save, its more Quick Save than Tesco but had a very large bin of seriously reduced products going past the sell by date that day. It was hard to resist buying loads but we managed to get away with only buying a fillet steak, 4 lamb steaks, and two packs of sausages all for a total price of about £3. We were practically fighting to get in the basket and whilst discussing what sausages to buy a lady confirmed the English Sausages are indeed the best they do, they have won awards you know. As she left she commented “of course I wouldn’t eat them but they are fine for the dogs”, cheeky cow. Sorry back to the point, Erica fried up the lamb and boiled some rice so we had lamb and onion and garlic fried rice, which was a nice change.
We then headed off into town and managed to pick up some cheapish internet to follow up on our many e-mails to operators of the Machu Picchu walking tours
. We have so far had a little success in pulling down the price but not enough. We are really stuck in a bit of a hole with that one, it’s obviously a really big ticket item on our trip but we are there in the wettest month of rainy season and to be fair 4 days of walking at very high altitude in thunderstorms sounds absolute turd. We have considered maybe trying to take a 2 day option which apparently still gets you to all the best places, mmmmm so much to ponder. We also considered taking a flight straight there when we land in South America but it looks like that will cost more than the trip itself and it’s still not in the dry season. Oh well we are probably going to fork out a huge sum of money to do four unhappy days trekking in the rain to have no views when we do get to the main spots due to the fog and cloud. Well we may never get another chance and apparently they are stopping any hiking up there in the next 10 years to preserve the area. Sorry I’m rambling again.
We left the internet shop with a much clearer understanding of the free camp system, well for Lake Taupo anyway, you can camp anywhere although it is somehow illegal they turn a blind eye. We headed back to our campsite and feeling cold again got under two duvets and a blanket before setting about some red wine and cheese.
We woke up early as the rain pounded the sunroof and roof of the van. I decided to get up and try and get the blog back on track and ready to publish at the public library (one of the very few free Wifi places in New Zealand are the public libraries, plus there is one in every town). I headed off to the kitchen to try and get a bit of charge in the lap top and camera and perhaps most importantly to watch some of the Commonwealth Games that we have missed all of so far. Not too long afterwards I was joined by Lady E who gets far too involved in athletics for someone who isn't keen on sport. Whilst watching the highlights programme Di Green of Wales was running and despite us having a series of cabins over the top of us she was screaming at the top her voice at 7am "come on di(e), hurry up di(e), go go, di(e) di(e) di(e)" I think someone must have thought she finally got around to claiming on the life insurance policy. We also decided that taking out the USA, China and one or two other nations we could enjoy the Olympics a lot more with an actual chance of winning a few things