A Travellerspoint blog

Brief encounter with a oyster pool

lots of volcanoes

sunny 19 °C
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Sorry blog fans for my lack neat writing yesterday but this was due to the bad internet access at Rotorua. There were only 2 old computers with no USB and not much chance of getting on them so no pici’s or anything. Anyway I have put the pici’s on today so you scroll back and see the non rushed version.

Day 9

already, somebody put the brakes on please it is going too fast. Anyway today we moved from Rotorua down to Taupo, which is only a 1 ½ hours drive South but took us all day as for some reason we had to see some hydrothermal volcanic activity.

First stop was Waimangu Volcanic Valley which was a tourist attraction for the Victorians until it blew up and killed a load of them. Now it is a tourist attraction for us, you would have thought we would have learnt our lesson. Bit of a long trek down a valley but well worth it. Lots of activity and pretty views and best of all a bus brings you back to the start. Once we got to the end the two numpties waited for the bus. Up it turns and is full of Chinese tourists. Unfortunately there was only room for Julian so he wedged himself in and left me crying at the station like Brief Encounter. Fortunately the next bus was behind so we both ended up in the same place.

After a spot of lunch, surrounded by Chinese which was funny, off we went to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

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The Wonder was how could they charge so much for not an awful lot at all. I was not really convinced as we saw better examples at Hell’s Gate and Waimangu Valley so my advice, do them and leave out Wai-O-Tapu which is a little too large and commercialised, rather than run by the Maori’s as was the case at Hell’s Gate. The smell of all the places is still in my nose. The free bubbling mud pools were the best at Wai-O-Tapu, see photo, and did not cost a dollar, although I did tread in some then walk it into the van so it cost us 20 minutes of clean up time. Oopps.

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Then we headed off to Taupo via Huka Falls, which were nice but we had seen better. Still it was on the way. Got to Top 10 Campsite in Taupo. What a pleasant site, very big, but again the staff were very helpful and the facilities are great. I have just done a nice few laps of the pool and feel totally refreshed with a glass of wine in my hand. We did pop off to the Taupo bungy but unfortunately it was closed, shucks. In fact it looked a bit tame after Skytower so maybe later in the week.

Right long drive tomorrow as we have to get to Wellington so we can catch the ferry to the south island on the 5th. If some comedy happens then I may write but I think it will be mainly in the van all day.

Hobitometer: a 1 out of 5 awks again for the same reason as yesterday. I think the scores will start increasing tomorrow onwards as we head south.

Comedy moment of the day: At Wai-O-Tapu me reading the guide book about how hot and acidic Oyster Pool was and not looking where I was going and so falling off the boardwalk nearly into said Oyster Pool.

Posted by karlg598 00:45 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Biking into Hell

mountain biking in Rotorua

overcast 19 °C
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Day 7

Helloa blog fans, sitting in Rotorua enjoying a fine night with wine in hand (Australian due to it was really cheap, much to the disgust of the checkout woman).

Day 7 was a bit of a travel day so not much to write about. The weather was awful as well but the roads around here are so good. The journey from Waitomo to Rotorua took only 2 ½ hours with hardly a car on the road. Being hardened adrenalin junkies we did brave the bush with a trek around Lake Tikitapu, which at 470m deep was most pleasant walk around a real crator.

Day 8

After a stormy stormy night, which was good as the van rocked all night rather than just when Julian moved over to scratch his butt, which meant I slept better, we got up to a fine but overcast day and after all the rain this meant there was only one activity on our minds. If you go into Rotorua there are loads of Mountain Bike shops and the reason for this is Whakarewarewa State Forest, which the Rough Guide says has some of the best mountain biking in the country. Once again RG are right as there were loads of tracks for all grades, brilliant. We did try to order our hire bikes from PlanetBike but we were told it was too wet, which was like saying it is too wet to go swimming. Anyway we were directed to the Outwoodsman Store nearby which had a load of young lads who loved biking and were only too happy to hire two Scott hardtails to seasoned professionals.

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Now the trouble with Mountain Biking with Julian is the fact that he is like a collie dog being let off the lease. You would think for someone who took ten minutes to get out of the lift at the Skytower in Auckland would be most cautious on a bike, but none of it. No matter how high the drop he is down it, while yours truly is whimpering at the top like he has just won an Oscar. I think I was still having flash backs of when I came a cropper on the World Champ course at Fort William which resulted in 8 weeks of pain with busted up shoulder. Still the tracks are fantastic, it was a pity we were both exhausted after 3 hours.
The lads at the shop where less happy to see us when we bought the bikes back, like I say it was truly muddy, but I would highly recommend the service.

After a quick pit stop at the site (we were both covered head to toe in mud and were in urgent need of some soap and water), we set off to have a look at Hells Gate Thermal Area North of Rotorua. I was temped with the mud bath but resisted in the end because there were two big Maori blokes rubbing the mud in, (if it had been the lady serving in the shop then it would have been a no brainer), had just went for a trek round the park. It is spit in two areas and to be honest the first bit was good but a bit of a anticlimax. There was a British couple there and I did offer to take a photo of them both in front of a steaming pool but the middle ages woman turn the offer down. Well I think that was what she said because the smell was a bit rough so she had been trying to hold her breath. Minutes later she had left her husband and came running out of the park for some fresh air. Not sure if they will be talking tonight as her husband carried on with the tour.
The second half of the park is worth while. We saw mud volcanoes and steaming cliffs which obviously put us both in a heightened state. Julian filled his 200 gig camera memory, well in fact it was only 256meg but you get the idea. Well worth it.
We then went to find the Tuteas Falls which is were all the rafters go down but reading the book it did say there was a 2 Km drive up a Track. Not wanting to be comedy moment of the day but having to get a farmer to tow out the campervan, we decided against it.
We did pop into Rotorua in the afternoon but to be honest hardly worth the trip. It has loads of backpacker like shops, clothes, cafes, bars, and apart from the Bath House the only other interesting building dating back more than 5 years had been converted to a Massage parlour and escort agency.

Hobitometer, nothing at all today although Hell’s Gate did gain one Awk for effect.

Comedy moment of the day: Aus guy at Hell’s Gate ignores the signs saying stick to the path to go and put his hand in the Inferno Pool which was 98 deg C and a Ph of 1 then wondered why he burnt his fingers, Numpty.

Posted by karlg598 22:37 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Loss of dignity under the falls

a day around Waitomo

sunny 25 °C
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Just a quick note, turns out my upload of photos has run out this month so I will put the photos on tomorrow for today and yesterday.

Day 7

Both a bit slow to make a move today due to our epic journey yesterday. Watching Julian get off the top bunk above the cabin was like heart surgery, a very delicate operation. So one final day in Waitomo and the temptation to go on another cave trip, which there are so many around here, had soon evaporated with the slow crawl to the toilet block first thing.

This morning’s activity involved a bit of getting back to nature with a bush walk to Ruakuri Reserve. It is a 45 minute walk there which was fine until half of the campsite started to follow us relying on my navigation skills, which I must point out are second to none!!!!! Somehow we managed to get there with only Wolfgang (obviously German) and his wife trusting enough to follow, although even they were a bit worried when we ended up in a field full of Bulls.
The Reserve consisted of a few caves and gorges and was well worth a visit and by the time we got back to the campsite we had been walking for 3 hours in the heat. I felt a power nap coming on but resisted by doing a few lengths in the pool, my adrenalin numpty buddy however was soon checking what was written on the inside of his eyelids.

This afternoon we headed out towards Te Anga to check out three natural landmarks. You will be pleased to know that today’s comedy moment did not involve us driving off with the plates still drying on the sink and the electric connected up. I will confess though after about five minutes of driving we did stop to check the gas due to an odd smell. Turned out it was only my feet and we had turned off the gas bottle.

The rough guide said these were places not to miss and they were right. The first is the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, which is a collapsed cave either side of a limestone bridge. The size was immense. Then we were due to stop at the Piripiri Caves but unfortunately I was driving and was trying to see what the top speed of a campervan was so missed the turn, so we ended up at the Marokopa Falls.

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Wow what a sight. Living in Scotland I see waterfalls all the time but this was still impressive. It took 10 minutes to get there and so we took no swimming kit with us but there were a few folks swimming under it, so balls to it, in we went in the grundies. The force was incredible and there was no amount of swimming that could get you under the falls themselves. On the way back we did finally make the turn to Piripiri Caves and again the rough guide was right.

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There was this purpose built footway down into the depths of hell, which we could not believe as it was right dodgy. There was even a rope going into this black hole with knots in. You will be pleased to know even I thought it was a bit dicey.

We have just got back from a fantastic meal at Huhu in Waitomo. I had the lamb and it was the best meal in New Zealand so far. The staff were great as well. Would highly recommend.

Hobitometer: I have been told I can not keep giving points to people who look like some of the awaks from Lord of the Rings just because they do not look their best lounging around by the site pool in dodgy swimsuits. So with nobody making any LOR reference today I can only give a 1 awk out of 5 for the caves.

Comedy moment of the day: Me trying to keep my dignity while swapping my wet grundies (from swimming) for my shorts near the waterfall, then slipping off the rock at the key moment and giving the locals a right scare (see Hobitometer comment above).

Tomorrow off to Rotorua for a bit of Volcano spotting and maybe mountain biking.

Posted by karlg598 01:25 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

A glowing example of being kept in the dark

getting wet in the caves of Waitomo

all seasons in one day 13 °C
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Day 6

We are both sitting here looking like prunes hardly able to keep our eyes open and it is only 9:30pm. We are suppose to be adrenalin junkies but could quite easily roll up in a campervan pushing the Z ‘s out. It is life on the edge.

The reason for the lethargic mood is because we have spent 7 hours dropping 100m (which was the easy bit) underground then having to work our way back up. All I can say is wow, what an experience. We decided to book the 7 hour epic journey with Waitomo Adventures (I think it was the word epic that attracted me), which starts off with a 100m abseil into this massive hole. At the top Julian was a bit twitchy, his leg was jumping like he was a chorus girl at the Moulin Rouge, but once off he was fine. The cavern we dropped into was called the Lost World and any moment you expected some T-rex to come jumping out. Once down next to the river the largest Eel was pointed out to us and the guides said the cave was full of them. It was at least 12ft long, well if you looked really close up anyway, and we were going to be swimming through this river.

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So off we set clad in wetsuits and white welly boots, not quiet the Rambo look I was after. Most of the journey involved swimming through the river, climbing up rocks, and generally tripping over for 7 hours, which I had to a fine art by the end of it. Best moment was when we came to this hole in the floor about twice the size of a human and somewhere below was the river. The Guide assured us we would be fine so made us stand over the hole, turn all the head torches out and jump. Why would anybody in their right mind do that. Julian went first, in total darkness. That was the last time I saw him, only joking, there came a big splash a bit later and bit of a whoop and he was down. What a weird sensation jumping into nothing. Brill

Photos to follow(monthly download full)
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We did a few other jumps, one was quite big, then a bit of squeezing through some tight spots in order to see the glow worms. At one stage we lay on our backs with no light for about 20 minutes just staring at the roof of the cave which was covered in the worms. Who needs Yoga and flower teas, I nearly fell asleep I was so relaxed. Just an amazing spectacle.

The hardest bit was walking the 20 minutes back to the centre out in the open fully kitted up and the guides, having done the trek a million times, not holding back on the pace. I was a dribbling wreak when we got back. Still the BBQ after made up for it. Brilliant experience and what great guides and a great group as well, with 2 Danes and a Swede with us.

Tomorrow we have another day in Waitomo before heading off to the Volcanoes of Rotorua.

Comedy moment of the day: group a students in the bar across the road all looking completely exhausted but not one of them having the guts to say “I know it is only 9 pm but I am off to bed”.

Hobitometer: 3 out of 5 today because we saw the little Dwarf chap, Julian tells me his name is Gimley (trainspotter) which the guide pointed out on a rock in the cave. Also going down that hole was like going into the Mountains of Mordor (in the first film!!!)

Posted by karlg598 01:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Max and Paddy

Trip of a lifetime

semi-overcast 23 °C
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Day 5

Max and Paddy great adventure starts. It was sad to leave Auckland and the apartment as it began to feel like home. Even the restaurant owner downstairs knew us by our first name, maybe because we were such muppets. She was friendly but not enough to pop 2 cheesecakes in our washing up bowl that we hung over the balcony down to the restaurant.
We jumped into our taxi that turned up just as we walked outside, it is going like clockwork so it is just a matter of time now, and spent the trip to the campervan hire place discussing the finer points of cricket to the Indian taxi driver. Again what a nice bloke although Julian looked a little lost but he will soon be trained in the art of the game of gentlemen once we start playing the Kiwi’s in the test matches. I will probably be going on and on for the next 4 weeks if we loose!!

So campervan. Anyone who knows me will know how much I hate the bloody things as they just clog up the roads around my place back home. So it was with much disgust that we accepted the keys for our monster Mercedes Benz Explorer.

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First stop supermarket and I may have had to walk off and leave Julian at the checkout as his card got declined. Then off to Waitomo for our day underground tomorrow. I have to say the roads are great. Everyone was driving at the same speed as us, well the pile of traffic in our rear view mirror were and the convoy slowly made the 2 hour journey in only 3 hours. Top 10 campsite is great with pool and all the extras. We sat out all night then checking out the other campervans on the site. To be honest ours is serving a purpose, to get from one nutty activity to another, but I do not think I will be putting in an order for one when I get back home just yet. So chilling out tonight and a bit of a relaxed day.

Hobitometer: not too good today so only 2 awks out of ten mainly due to a couple in the swimming pool who were defiantly from middle earth.

Comedy moment: An absolute classic today that has had me chuckling all the way to Waitomo. Married couple just off the plane picks up their campervan. He drives 5 yards then wallop as he plants the side of the van into the one parked next to him as he thinks he is still driving his little Ford Fiesta. You should have seen the face on his wife. What a start to the holiday. I hope he upgraded on the insurance. #

Right tomorrow is going to be a wet one. We have 7 hours underground on a Waitomo epic, lets hope it is not epic for the wrong reasons!!!!!!

Posted by karlg598 23:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (1)

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