Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hot Springs, Water Falls and Zorbs

Oh the luxury of having a marina, the freedom to just leave the boat and go without worry (well not much anyway). Since we have the new van and the lovely slip in Westhaven Marina, it was time to go exploring by road. New Years Day we set off down the "Thermal Explorer" motorway to Rotorua. Rotorua is New Zealand most dynamic thermal area with steaming hot springs and bubbling mud pools everywhere. It wasn't unusual to walk around the neighborhoods and see steam rising from the backyards of many homes. Despite the sulphur smell this place is a pretty popular tourist destination and also another one of those places in New Zealand for adrenaline junkies. Our first stop which we mearly observed was the Zorbs. Sounds sort of Star Treky but really it's just a giant plastic ball with a few gallons of water that goes rolling down a hill for 150 meters. Oh did I forget to mention that people are inside. It reminded me of one of those plastics balls I used put my hamster in as a kid. In fact it looked just like it. I took some pictures because well, you gotta see this. After checking out the zorbing we stopped by the city park where we walked around stinky pools of exploding mud. After that we checked into our first Holiday Park. A holiday park in New Zealand is really just a huge campground with cabins, a place for the iconic camper van and also a place for those in tents. Luckily for us, the van has everything we need for camping, from comfy bedding to a full kitchen. The holiday park was pretty flash as they say here. It was complete with it's own thermal hot tubs, laundry room, Internet and huge kitchen. Once we got settled we had to decide how to spend the next day. Rotorua is loaded with spas so it seemed like a great option. It was the Polynesian Spa for us the next day with a mud massage for Mark and manuka honey for me. The next day we packed up the van and headed down the road to Lake Taupo. On the way we stopped for a small hike and scenic view of Rainbow Mountain. We arrived at Lake Tuapo to stock up on something for dinner and decided to continue on to Tongariro National Park. A beautiful place and home of the one of the Great Walks of New Zealand it was a fantastic place to get out and do some more walking. Since we were on a bit of schedule we only stayed one night but it will for sure be a chosen destination again one day. Our next stop was Wellington which is the capital city and a place we plan to call home for the next year or so. A vibrant city of about 500, 000 people it seems like a perfect place for us to take a cruising break and get some work done on the boat. After three days, one movie, tons of ethnic restaurants and heaps of walking it was time to head back to check on Scholarship. We drove back to Auckland in one long 10 hour day but were glad to be sleeping in our own bed that night. In a few days we will leave Auckland to start making our way to Welly. We have about 600 miles to cover and we think we will spend about a month or so getting down there. I hope to be able to blog along the way. Cheers, Liz