Wow! What a day!!! Friday was a day off and I knew that I was going to Rotorua. I collected a hire car at about 8 and drove the 110 or so kilometers to my destination. I had a list of things to see and do and - with some minor alterations achieved them all.
So, I found Lake Rotorua and walked taking in the supherous smells, the different colours in the water and the vast numbers of gannets, teal and other birds. I then found the office of volcanic tours and saw the only mercedes that has ever appealed to me - a large, choclolate brown dog that looks more like a teddy bear. Did I say large? She's enormous! Anyway I was there to book a helicopter flight and was devastated to find they were all full. I booked a seat on the 2 pm float plane instead and it wasn't 2nd best! I then headed to Te Puia for Maori history, geysers and mud pools. It was spectacular - hope the photo's do it justice. I can understand why the area has such a spiritual significance.
The plane trip was incredible, it took off from the lake and 'cruised' at about 3500' over the lakes which are volcanic craters. Each one full of different coloured water - from mop bucket murk through to brilliant turquiose. As promised it was bumpy over the volcano's but it was too spectacular for me to have time to be either terrified or sick. The plane then headed out to sea and to White Island which is an active volcano. I'm beginning to run out of superlatives but it was a truly brilliant experience as the pilot brought the plane as low as possible in first clockwise and then anti clockwise circles so that we could see and take photo's.
The return trip was via Mount Tarawera an extinct volcano that last erupted in 1886 with a devastating effect on a huge area. It is a holy mountain of great significance to Maori. The pilot took us along the route of the eruption which is about 15km long.
After such a experiences there was only one way to end my visit to Rotorua ...... so I spent the next couple of hours floating about the hot pools of the Polynesian Spa before driving back and saying farewell to Jane. I hope I'll see her again before I leave New Zealand. Caught up with Conor who had been enjoying her birthday and finalising my itinerary for the weekend....... more to follow