Jul 28, 2010
Aug 16, 2010
Our second full day in new zealand started in rotorua. We spent the night there after driving down from Auckland yesterday and decided we wanted to see the area here rather than go back to Auckland even though we had a hotel room booked there. We started bright and early driving to taupo. We stopped at huka falls and saw the beautifully turquoise blue water gushing everywhere. The channel that the water was flowing through was very narrow and we immediately thought how sweet it would be to raft down it. The rapids were at least class 5. Just then, we saw a jet boat fly through the channel and over the falls. We were like wow! But unfortunately we didn't have the time to do that. We had already booked a tour to tarawera volcano later in the day. We left huka falls and hustled to taupo lakefront. Lake taupo was huge and the water was also clear blue. We could see the bottom. We wanted to see the magnificent views of the three largest volcanos in NZ that were clearly visible from across the lake. We took a ton of pictures and then headed back to rotorua to catch our volcano tour. We couldn't make it to tongariro park where the 3 huge volcanos were and do the tongariro crossing that took you to all 3 but it takes 8 hrs minimum and is very treacherous in the winter. You need to hire a guide and have the right equipment (good boots, ice axe and crampons). Plus we didn't have the time on this visit. We'll do it next time. This is also where they filmed mordor from lord of the rings. The drives to and from taupo were awesome. The landscape was unbelievable. Rolling lush green hills, mountains everywhere and thermal pockets all along the way. There was a town that was completely covered in steam, we could barely see where we were going. Once we got back to rotorua we got on our volcano tour of mt tarawera. This was a currently dormant volcano that had once devastated the area surrounding it and formed one of the large lakes in the area. Many people died and what the locals called the 8th wonder of the world was destroyed, these pink and white terraces. Our guide drove us an hour to the volcano and then it was a bumpy ride half way up. We then stopped and began our hike up the rest of the volcano. The views while hiking were spectacular. It was not an easy hike, most of it was very steep. There were times where we had to use both our hands to help climb. Once we got to the top, we took a ton more pictures. I really can't describe the view, it was majestic. We could see all the surrounding lakes, the pacific ocean and even the 3 volcanos that we had seen earlier in taupo. We then started our descent but not quite the way you would expect. We did a scree walk/jog/run into the center crater. It was almost like skiing down a very steep slope. It was so close to vertical, it was ridiculous. We were able to do this because of the volcanic debris. It was soft, giving and somewhat "sticky". Meaning every time we stepped in it, our feet dissappeared to our ankles and held us in place. The scree was awesome. I got the entire thing on video so will post at some point. Once we got to the bottom of the crater, we walked around and took in the breathtaking scenery. We couldn't believe we were actually inside the crater of a volcano. Our guide had us on a tight schedule so she pushed us to make our hike back out which was the least fun part of the tour. They had put together a trail that made getting out possible and it was exhausting. The footing wasn't great and it was so steep. I found it easier to do by basically running as fast as i could for as long as i could (just a few min), stop and catch my breath and do it all over again until out. After we were driven back to town, we were pretty sore so instead of driving back to Auckland, we decided to goto the Polynesian spa place. This place had a bunch of naturally hot pools heated by the thermal area in rotorua. We spent an hour there to recover and recharge. Jessica wanted to stay longer but we still had a 3hr drive back. All in all, it was another great day in NZ. Tomorrow, we fly back to reality... So sad to leave. Were going to try and visit the black sand beaches west of Auckland if we can wake up early enough and still need to do some souvenir shopping since we've done zero in NZ.