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John and Paula Go Touring New Zealand

John and Paula Go Touring New Zealand

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Published by yachtmrjohn3695
travelogue of adventures in New Zealand.
travelogue of adventures in New Zealand.

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Published by: yachtmrjohn3695 on Mar 21, 2010
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03/04/2015

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John and Paula go touring New Zealand 
 
2January 14
th
2010; we commenced our land tour of New Zealand by driving south fromAuckland to the Waitomo Caves. As soon as we could, we moved off the main roads ontothe scenic route and this was the way we operated for the next three weeks; we kept our exposure to traffic low; cruising sedately down the back roads.We elected to do a combination tour at Waitomo, first visiting the Aranui Cave, wherewe knew we’d be allowed to take photographs of the fine, needle like, stalactiteshangingdown from the roof. Then we moved on to the world famous Glow-worm Cave, where photography is discouraged and that is probably just as well because flash photography of glow-worms reveals nothing, you have to make a time exposure! The tour consists of a boat ride and takes place in almost complete darkness and the result is that you get toview the millions of tiny lights (produced by the Glow-worms), much resembling a finedisplay of stars onan exceptionally clear night. It was very beautiful and the tour wasvery well executed.Waitomo was also our first visit to a “TopTen” holiday park and we were veryimpressed with the facilities which werefirst rate; in fact this was such a good siteit would be nice to return there and dosome of the many other walks that are inthe area.From Waitomo, we drove east to Rotorua doing a southerly sweep and entering via theWaikite Thermal Valley and the Mud Pools at Wai-O-Tapu. Our camp site was the TopTen at the Blue Lake (Blue Lake Holiday Park), which whilst quite good, was not a patchon the previous one, we soon discovered that you pay a premium for lakeside camps andunless you are going afloat or swimming, they are best avoided. We did however, havegood access to Rotorua and spent a day in town visiting the fascinating Museum.Moving south we visited OrakeiKorako, a thermal area reputed to be one of the finest in the world. Asmall boat carries you across alake to where a path takes youaround the large, colourful silicaterraces to some geysers and afantastic natural cave with a poolof jade-green water.
 
3 Not far south from Orakei Korako arethe ‘Craters of the Moon’, another Thermal Area run by the Departmentof Conservation (DOC) and thusquite ‘unexploited’ when comparedto most of the Thermal Areasavailable to view; we had a goodwander around and very muchenjoyed our visit.Across the main road from ‘Craters of the Moon’ is the Huka Falls, where the waters of Lake Taupo crash through a very narrow gorge on their way down to the AratiatiaRapids. Here one can get a good sense of all the ‘water power’ that New Zealand hasavailable to power its Hydro Electric plants; it is an awe inspiring sight.We camped at Taurangi Cabins, a site we’d used on our last visit when doing the AlpineCrossing, it was cheap, cheerful and in the right place at the southern end of Lake Taupo.The next morning it was raining and we almost changed our route, fortunately we didn’tand we discovered that New Zealand was just as appealing and just as photogenic in therain as it was in sunshine. We headed into the Tongariro Nation Park and visited theWakapapa Village where we took in twoshort movies which gave us some insightinto the park’s formation. The i-centre alsohas some very descriptive and interactivedisplays that give lots of information on thisvolcanic centre and volcanic New Zealand ingeneral; its well worth a visit but I’m notgoing to recommend it for camping as theelevation causes it to be much cooler thandown in Taurangi and brings it into theclouds on a regular basis, this makes it coldand wet for the most part and not myfavourite camping conditions! We had beenable to spend time in this area on our lastvisit and walked most of the tracks, theweather had been better then and we hadmore time to linger; this visit was restricted by the weather however, it was still wellworth the visit as there is always somethingto do or see here.

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