Mauri's, I think, are probably silly people! I base this on the names by which towns are called - Pio Pio, Okoko, Kokokorua, Aka Aka, Maharakeke, Tiki Tiki, Punga Punga and the like. Silly!
Over the last 10 days we have seen loads and done loads but, looking back, it seems we have done very little. Our perception of time/achievement has obviously gone a bit doolally over the last two years. Consequently we feel really pleased to have got up and out for the day by 10.00am and a bit "out there" if we haven't parked up and got cosy by 4.30pm. We are like proper retiree's who can easily take an hour just opening the milk. Why? Becuase we can! Anyway, here are the highlights....
Mount Maunganui sits at the end of small spit of land outside of the town of Tauranga.It's a dormant volcano that is now covered in foliage and has various steep walks up, down and around it. Great views from the top which was littered with sweating, healthy types who had completed their morning constitutionals.
The drive down to Matata was pleasant but by NZ standards not exceptional. We stayed on a DOC camp (govt provided)and got free grapefruit and lemons from the site manager. Later we walked along the beach and saw a guy fishing using a topedo and a winch...The remote controlled torpedo with flag atop is send out to sea for a kilometre or so pulling a line that has dozens of bated hooks on. Out "fisherman" then hits the rewind button on a small winch and pulls it back along with any number of large fish. We queried him on his chosen method of fishing assuming him to do it commercially. No. That's how he likes to pass his time fishing. Results rather than the sport of the catch are his thing and could have been ours too had we accepted his kind offer of a 14 inch snapper he had hauled in.
Rotorua probably means "Stinky Town" in Mauri. It is famous for its thermal springs and general volcanic activity. Its quite amazing that any number of streams, patches of land, clusters of trees and pools are sputtering or smoking all around. We went on a great walk through an amazing Redwood Forest with these towering giants all around us. Quite humbling to think many had been there for nearly a 1000 years. Beside a blue lake, a green lake, colourful cliff faces and rock plateaus criss crossed with boiling streams we also saw some brilliant mud pools which, again, steam and bubble, but when they do they make farting noises and big splurges of mud jump into the air.
From Rotorua to Lake Taupo is a drive on long straight roads through mile upon mile of fir trees - Spectacular! We have travelled on many roads and always have opted for the scenic version rather that the quicker route. This is a road trip after all and, truly, the journey is story as much as the destinations. Driving here takes your breath away at least 10 times a day. Never before have i driven up and down so many hills. I cannot imagine anywhere in the world where there are so many corners to be turned. You look on a map and you think that any journey is only a short distance but without fail everything takes 2 to 3 times longer than expected because of the extraordinary terrain. Drivers are courteous, roads are empty, views are amazing - what more could we ask?
Taupo was wet. It rained and rained and rained. We booked into a proper campsite with showers, toilets, laundry etc bought 4 bottles of wine and treats and spent Rachel's 45th Birthday in bed watching old movies, canoodling and drinking heavily. A perfect day at the end of which the sun came out for a short while to allow us to spend an hour walking amidst our 36 hours of indulgence.
Skiing!!! Rachel went into ski school whilst I had a couple of hours on my own. The day was glorious. Anyone who skis will picture the scene. Fresh heavy snow had fallen in the night and the world was clean and sunny and crisp. My nose felt pleasantly pained drawing in that cold air whilst my face was warmed by the sun as I was whisked up the chairlift to the upper reaches of the mountain. Apart from one day in Japan I hadn't skied for a while so took the first couple of runs slowly but then met up with a very good skier called Peter who knew the mountain well and took me over an array of slopes (on and off piste). Keeping up whilst maintaining some style was a little challenging and I took a couple of stupendous spills with the cheer of "wipe out!" Being called from the lifts above my head. Hey ho! All in the spirit of the game. Returned to Rachel to find her ploughing down the nursery slope looking a bit like a prawn balanced on two lolly sticks (not a natural born skier). However, how can i judge after three wipe outs. My sister, when she first started skiing (actually for several years) always had a few tipples before hitting the slopes. Sadly rachel didn't fancy red wine for breakfast so was a little tense. Still (and I hear her groaning as i read this to her) there's always next time.
That's it for now. Its 10.35 and we really should be getting dressed and hit the road.