Our weekend at the Ferguson’s was excellent. We climbed the Mount, went swimming in the ocean (very cold), and Pat caught a snapper from a sea kayak. Last night we had a fire on the beach, watched the sun set, then set off fireworks. Many thanks to the Ferguson’s for being wonderful hosts!
Eventually, we set out toward Taupo. Yesterday, after an afternoon excursion to Lake Tarawera, Paul, Sarah, and Mike dropped us off past Rotorua, which reeks of rotten eggs, and it was an easy two hitches to Waikite Valley Thermal Pools. We had estimated we’d arrive between 5-6pm, and somehow we walked in at 5:00 on the dot. We set up our tent and spent the rest of the evening soaking in the pools. Not that we were stressed out at all, I still felt like jelly when I got out of the tubs.
It rained all night. We were cozy inside our tent, warm and dry. By the time morning rolled around, the sun was shining and the hot pools were beckoning. We soaked for a few hours in the early light before the pools officially opened, then walked up to see the boiling spring where all the water comes from. Te Manaroa is nearly 100 degrees Celsius when it bubbles up to the surface. It flows down a sort of stream, making up a geothermal wetland ecosystem, before running through a series of cascades that cool the water for the tubs. All around the property are billows of steam from the very hot water streams.
We left around 11am, but not really. It took a while to get a ride on the low-traffic road. An hour later, we just arrived on the main road, having gone all of 6km. A few more cars passed before a firefighter on her way home to Wellington gave us a lift all the way to Taupo.
So we find ourselves at the shores of the gorgeous Lake Taupo with a whole afternoon in front of us and a free place to camp tonight. Tomorrow, Tongariro!