We are in Auckland at a holiday park close to the motor home rental company and the airport. This campground has a guest sign in book and almost everyone that has stayed here the past week is from Europe. We were the first from the US in six days. Our flight is not until tomorrow but we want to pack this evening and get a good night’s sleep. Now that we are leaving the weather is becoming nice enough not to wear a jacket and rain gear all the time.
Our traveling has been rather slow this past week, with four days of it being spent in and around Rotorua. Rotorua is in the volcanic region and central to many tourist attractions. It’s also a base for hundreds of backpackers and young people visiting New Zealand and therefore has a lot of support for them in the way of backpacker hotels and I would bet a few hundred eateries. It is a great place to eat cheap and healthy and also to try many nationalities of food. We happily took advantage.
Our Top 10 Campground was walking distance to the center of town and also next door to Kuirau Park, one of the few free attractions in the area. Entrance fees are pretty high everywhere but most give a 10% discount with a Top 10 membership.
The park had many thermal pools but none with the colors that you saw in my previous post.
There are hundreds of thermal pools in this volcanic region. Hotels and motels often have mineral pools and naturally there are quite a few spas in the area.
Rotorua is an artsy town with many galleries and displays of creativity. This covering was in front of a secondary iSite visitor center. I failed to take a picture of the beautiful main iSite that is similar in style to the museum pictured farther below.
This is a long covered walkway with nothing but restaurants on either side. The end of the walkway ends at Lake Rotorua.
Every server in Australia and in New Zealand places a bottle of water just like the one on the left on the table without us having to ask. When I told the server at this establishment that the servers in the US almost always ask “what can I get you besides water,” he was shocked and thought that was rude. The servers never ever ask if you want an appetizer or dessert or another drink. In fact, most of the time you go to a counter, order, pay, find your own table, and the food is brought to your table. You are then left alone to eat at your leisure. It is so much more relaxed than the constant interruptions and attempts to up-sell in US places.
Lake Rotorua is circular and has an island in the middle. There are boat, helicopter, and float plane trips available.
The Rotorua Museum of Art and History claims to be the most photographed building in New Zealand. The railroad station in Dunedin makes the same claim.
The Government Gardens are adjacent to the museum.
We took a drive to Lake Taupo one day to see the volcanos across the lake from downtown Taupo. The sun was shining everywhere but not at that end of the lake. So we sat and waited for the clouds to leave but we were not bored because next to us was a golf tee where people buy golf balls for $1 each and try to hit a green out in the lake. The prize is $10,000 for a hole in one.
Steve talked to the man running the game and he said there has been 899 holes in one since 1993. That is a payout of roughly $35,000 per week if he is correct.
We finally got a peak of the two volcanos, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu. There is a parking lot on the lake nearby that allows self contained campers to stay free for 48 hours. We missed out on that because of paying in advance for our site in Rotorua and having to drive back.
We haven’t seen any flat land yet for the cows to graze on. Some of the hills are much steeper and higher than this one.
This is the visitor center in Matamata where Hobbiton is located. Most towns of any size have a visitor center with free wifi whereas the campgrounds all charge for it.
Next we went to the Coromandel Peninsula not too far from Auckland. We only had one day and didn’t drive to the end of the peninsula but what little we did see made us wish we had come here sooner.
Mountains in the Coromandel are the biggest we have seen yet
We stayed in a cozy campground in Tararu with a Butterfly Garden. It is in an old plastic barn-like building and from the outside doesn’t look like much but the inside is awesome. The man who owns it maintains a tropical garden inside with orchids, ponds, and a waterfall. There are beautiful butterflies flying everywhere but I won’t bore you with my many pictures of them.
Our camp site backed up to the creek and there were also hikes to take right out of the campground.