Sunday, October 25, 2015

Himatangi Beach

Every time I see one of these, I wonder who made it and why... Was it a solitary endeavour by someone grieving? Or was it a joyous group construction...

And, where did the wood come from? What kind of journey down rivers and along sea shores did it have to arrive here? And how long will it stay standing?

There' a stream nearby as well, with a line of 'flotsam and jetsam' - shells and bits of driftwood- that tell a tale of floodwaters and tides. What will happen to it? How long until it's part of the sand that I walk on?

I think we're really lucky in the Manawatu. We've got these lovely long beaches to walk along- and mostly quite empty of crowds...


Saturday, October 10, 2015


"Joy is the echo of God's life in us." 
~St Columba of Iona

Stand and be blessed...

On the walkway around Lake Rotorua

 "Sometimes, I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.” 

~Mary Oliver

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Waitomo, Hamilton, Otumoetai

The holiday is approaching its end... From Rotorua I traveled a back country route across to Waitomo, mostly SH30, that was enjoyable and interesting. I passed the Waikato River in a place where it was surrounded by some high bluffs, and I drove through Benneydale, where I'd never been before. I realised I was close to Pureora Forest, but it was raining lightly, and I had no idea where walking tracks were, so I kept heading to Waitomo.

Once there I decided to do a 'combo' of the 'main' historic trip, and Ruakuri Cave. I had been to Waitomo once before, what felt like 'not long ago', but then I realised it must have been 15 years or so. I had skipped the main tourist cave then, because it seemed too touristy, and indeed it was. I had clearly arrived at the same time as bus loads... So the tour took longer than expected, as only 22 or so can go on each boatload, and you need to get on singly. It gave a good intro to cave formation, and glow-worms etc from a very good guide, but I got the same info in my next cave visit as well.

Ruakuri was a different experience, and I just loved it. Tours used to go in another entrance, but that was near an important chief's gravesite. Heaps of amazing engineering has gone into making a spiral ramp entrance to this cave, seven levels or so of it, and it is wheelchair accessible.

They also had a clever lighting system that came on while we were close to different areas to show off various formations. It was mind blowing to realise how slow growing these were, and how much time it had taken for them to form.

Near the end we could see Blackwater rafters passing far below, floating along in their inner tubes. This was an experience I'd had my first time, and loved it, but I didn't feel like getting wet today!

In Hamilton I stayed with friends, and we shared a Camino dinner with a couple I knew from student days, who have recently walked it. A precious evening, that was far too short...

Next morning I visited Hamilton Gardens, my first time visit there in spring-time. They are beautiful, and there is so much variation...

Finally I drove on to Tauranga, and am staying at motel not far from my cousin's place, which is near the harbourfront at Otumoetai. I had a peaceful end to the day watching the birds feed on the sand as the tide lowered, while I looked across to Mt Maunganui.


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Walking in Rotorua

Rotorua is a fascinating place, but it's not cheap, with prices set for the overseas tourist market. So today I decided I would do some walking exploring in the city. It turned out to be fascinating, and also I got sunburned! Ooopps!

I started by heading from the motel for Kuirau Park. As it happened it was market day there, and I enjoyed buying a crepe with lemon juice and sugar. Then it was time for more thermal wanderings amongst the steam, boiling water and mud.

There's been a lot of work done in this park since I was last here, and it was easy to follow a route through it. And there were informative boards along the way.

Once I'd reached the end of the park I found I was quite close to the road down to Ohinemutu where I was planning to go.

There was a very special church there, filled with carvings, tukutuku panels, stained glass with Maori motifs, and some kowhaiwhai panels.

Next I headed down along the lake front, and was amazed by how much bird life was down there. Once past the wharf area it was a very peaceful walk, much of it through kanuka and other plants that clearly like the thermal conditions.
But the absolute treat of the day, completely unexpected, was when I came to an area with many birds, and realised shags were nesting. I had to get my zoom lens out to properly see some of the action.
I read somewhere it is St Francs feast day- an appropriate kind of day to be spending time just watching birds...

And gulls were noisily there as well...

It took me a while to reach the Government Gardens, which are looking beautiful for a tulips festival. This last photo shows some tulips down the middle of one of the main streets.



Friday, October 02, 2015


Full day in Rotorua today, but the day began with rain... So I turned on TV and caught the France-Canada game. Well played by the Canadians- it was a close game until near the end. First game I have watched, as the motel has Sky, but at home I don't...

Despite the rain I had decided today would be a geothermal day, and as it turns out, lots of overseas tourists had the same idea. I went to Wai-o-Tapu last time I was in Rotorua and thought I might go to Whakarewarewa this time, but that place has been split in two, and one look at the price made me change my mind...

I stopped at the Wai-o-Tapu mud pools first. With the rain coming down, there was lots of steam, and the mud was wet and dramatic looking. (Amazing how you can still take photos with an umbrella up!)

I have always loved the drama in the landscape at Wai-o-Tapu, and I was glad to discover that in springtime the colours seemed even more dramatic. Maybe they look brighter without too much sunshine?

I have seen the Champagne Pools quite a few times now, and they still take my breath away.

There is quite an ethereal feel to it all, especially with fewer people around.

The colour of Lake Ngakoro quite took my breath away. I had never seen it so emerald green.

I paid a bit of attention to the bird life on Frying Pan flat. I wonder if the pied stilts have a nest somewhere... Meanwhile they seem to walk amongst the thermal activity with impunity...

And there were finches eating up large from the ground as well.

Devil's Bath was another pool that took my breath away: I had never seen it this green.

I finished my visit by stopping at the Wai-o-tapu tavern for lunch. It was a quiet day in there because of the rain... And this evening I had a very relaxing soak in the adult pools at the Polynesian Spa complex. We kiwis were an endangered breed there! But I'll be back tomorrow evening for another dose!
Now, the All Blacks play at 7am tomorrow I am told. So the motel Sky will see service again in the morning, so I had better climb into bed now...


Taupo to Rotorua

With the yacht trip finished, I decided I wanted to check out the Spa Rd thermal park before I left Taupo. Turned out this was another opportunity to see the Waikato River in its 'infancy' before it got to Huka Falls.

Down the hill was a thermal stream that people were bathing in. And as you can see the brand new river is not exactly small.

As it turned out, I could have walked to Huka Falls from here, a 3km walk. But I hadn't known that and my lunch was back in my car up the hill...

So I drove on to Huka Falls, where this baby river gets squeezed through a very hard rock channel...

...before all that water flounces out to widen out again.

It was time to drive to Rotorua.

I caught the last of the daY's sunshine on the blossom tree over the road from the motel. The forecast is for rain and even thunder...

I had a quick look near the lake. Was surprised to realise how many birds use the thermal end of the lake near the hot pools.

It all looked like an alien landscape down there, enhanced by the grey clouds.

I wandered back through a part of the Government Gardens. Even with grey skies it looked impressive round there.

It looks like I will be re-looking at Wai-oTapu, my favourite thermal area, in the rain tomorrow...