Saturday, January 26, 2013

Home to Hamilton

Yes, posting has been a bit light over summer. But I have been on a little roadtrip and finally you get to see some photos!

First photo is from before I left home- a freshly fledged blackbird. She sat patiently on the railing beside the deck so I could get a photo even through the somewhat dirty window of the study. 

And before I took off up north I spent a morning wandering on Himatangi Beach. One of the surprises of the walk was seeing all these vintage cars turn up. They were off on a two-day rally from the west coast to the east. It was a lovely calm morning, with gentle sunshine. But before the afternoon was out, someone had drowned in the surf which seemed almost unbelievable after my peaceful morning. However, the rip currents on these west coast beaches are often quite unpredictable.

 I drove up on SH1 through the volcanic plateau. It was a clear day and the views of the volcanoes were spectacular. Here is Ngauruhoe. Ruapehu and Tongariro both have raised volcanic alert levels at present, but all stayed calm, except for the smell of sulphur in Taupo in the evening.

 Leaving Taupo I decided I had better see Huka Falls which I keep hearing about. I think that maybe I was here once many years ago, but it may have been at a time of low outflow from Lake Taupo, and I don't remember anything memorable. But today was quite another story. What happens is that water leaves Lake Taupo- the start of the Waikato River- but soon gets squeezed in a narrow channel of hard volcanic rock. So the water passes through this channel at high pressure, and both the sight and the sound of the rushing water is very impressive.

I was heading north to Hamilton but decided to divert via Rotorua to see my favourite thermal park, Wai-o-tapu. You can read more about this park here. The cost to get in was a bit of a shock ($32.50 per adult- definitely prices aimed at the overseas tourist market.) However, the colours and sights here are so impressive. The top shot is a first view of the Champagne Pool, from a distance.

 I loved the colours in this pool, the way the sulphur colour sort of looked like frying egg yolk.

 And here's the drama of the colours of the Champagne pool closer up.

Before leaving Hamilton the next morning I visited Hamilton Gardens. These weren't even in existence when I left the city at the end of my student days, but a lot of vision has gone into creating them. There are a wide variety of themed gardens- and I could do a whole blog post on them. However, you just get two photos. Top one is of a feather that happened to be floating on the little lakelet in the quiet Japanese garden of contemplation.

And these water lilies were in the bigger lake near the entrance gate.

One new garden since my last visit here was the Maori garden that showed the methods Maori people had used for cultivation. In this garden were kumara which grew easily on the warmer islands of Poynesia, but here in New Zealand methods of heaping the earth up around the plants had to be developed.

(Part 2 of my summer road trip coming soon.. Mokau to home. )


  1. Lovely photos. That river squeezing through must be so dramatic.

    Is the orange in the Champagne photo caused by bacteria? Reminded me of the same colours at Yellowstone.

    1. I think that trace amounts of arsenic have something to do with the colour. The water in this pool comes from very deep very hot water and minerals are brought to the surface. The Te Ara website says: "The bright colours at Champagne Pool near Rotorua are caused by trace amounts of arsenic and antimony. These are extracted from the water by sulfur precipitating in the pool. The ridges around the pool are composed of sinter (fine-grained silica). The pool and its margins are teeming with microbial life."