Water in All Its FormsA WANDER DOWN UNDER, CHAPTER 28: IN WHICH THINGS GET WATERED DOWN
Day 32: Napier to Rotorua, NZ. Saturday morning blew in with sparkling blue skies as we watched the sun rise over Hawkes Bay from the comfort of our hotel room. For one last view of Napier before leaving town, we drove up to Bluff Hill Domain, a park overlooking the port and the city. Once the site of a defensive World War II gun battery, the bluff has been transformed into a botanical delight with blossoms in shades of yellow, red. blue, orange, purple and pink. Every plant seemed to be in bloom on this sunny spring morning.
|Pride of Madeira overlooking the port|
|Bluff Hill offered an excellent bird's eye view of this busy port.|
|A section of the forest after harvest|
As we passed by a handful of buildings identified on the map as the hamlet of Rangitaiki, the intermittent rain briefly changed over to sleet. A bit later we watched a heavy spate of sleet bouncing off the pavement as we were eating lunch at The Vine in the town of Taupo. Although the service was abysmally inefficient and confused, we didn't mind too much as we weren't eager to head back out in the icy shower. Moreover, the food was quite good and we were engaged in a lively conversation with an Australian couple, Jenny and William, at the next table. They had driven into town from a fishing lodge at the southern end of Lake Taupo, a spot they have visited annually for 20 years, stalking steelhead trout in the lake and area rivers.
|Looking upstream against the powerful current of the falls|
|Renewable resource independent of weather|
|A bit of magical scenery on Tutukau Road|
Near 3 p.m. we took a detour west onto Tutukau Road to check out the Orakei Korako geyser field. At $28 each, the admission was a bit steep but the reviews we checked on the fly as we drove north indicated this was an opportunity to see "Rotorua without the tourists."
|Soda Fountain geyser|
More subtle messages told another story. The rocky surface around most of the geysers in this field was bone dry. It was difficult to choose which rationalization we should accept for the inactivity—the erratic eruption evasion offered by the visitor center staff or the alibi given us by boat operator who ferried us across the river to the geyser field: "Well, the weather is just too cold for the geysers to be active" (the kind of statement that makes you start rubbing your forehead to wipe off "STUPID," which you assume must be written there).
Arriving in Rotorua around 5 p.m., we checked into our Quest apartment hotel, prepared dinner, and made some hot plans for seeing the local geothermal activity tomorrow.
As we've often stated, the left-lane driving in New Zealand and Australia requires constant vigilance from us right-laners, particularly since all the roads we're driving on are unfamiliar to us. One form of signage that adds to the confusion is the yield sign painted on the road at many intersections.
Meant to signify that the driver approaching the intersection should yield to the oncoming traffic on the cross street, to someone accustomed to right-lane driving about to turn onto the road, it can appear to be an arrow pointing in the direction of the traffic flow, the way this type of signage is typically used in the U.S. Following that instinct, of course, would put you on the wrong side of the road.
- Started in Napier, ended in Rotorua
- Mileage - 175 (Trip total: 15,509)
- Weather - 45° to 57°, sunny, windy, rain, sleet
- Active geysers - 0
- Excuses for why geysers were inactive - 4
SATURDAY, 4 OCTOBER, 2014
More Photos from Today
|Napier City Marina|
|The erroneously named 'Artist's Palette' purported to exhibit all the colors of the rainbow|
|Ruatapu Cave, alleged to be one of the world's two caves in a geothermal field|
|A bit of geothermal humor|