Saturday, February 28, 2009

Steaming Cliffs At Hells Gate Geothermal Park

This pool is the hottest in the park at 256 degrees Fahrenheit. We took a video of this one since it was really boiling.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Saturday we drove to the town of Rotorua, otherwise known as Rotovegas, since it's a bit over the top as a tourist destination.

The main reason the town is such a destination hot spot is because of it's geothermal activities. There are numerous steam vents, sulfur pools, geysers, mud pools.... in the area.

Today we decided to play tourist and booked ourselves in for the "Ultimud Spa Package". Before our spa session began though, we spent 45 minutes walking around the grounds and checking out all the geothermal sites.

We were at Hells Gate Geothermal Park, which got it's name from well known British Playwright George Bernard Shaw when he visited here in the early 1900's.

Here's Dave at Hells Gate Geothermal Park.

Kelly amongst the various boiling pools of water.

This is called the Devils Cauldron and is 248 degrees F.

This is a mud volcano which is nearly 8 feet high. It continues to grow as it discharges mud lahars and lava bombs every so often.

Kakahi Falls is the largest hot water falls in the southern hemisphere.

Dave walking through Hells Gate Park

After our walk, we spent 20 minutes in a mud bath as shown in the photos here. After this we spent 1/2 an hour in the sulfur pools before we went in for our one hour Wai Ora traditional massage.
We were pretty sore after our hike on Friday and we definitely felt better after all of this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Tongariro Crossing

We left Wellington on Thursday morning and drove to the town of Turangi. It's tucked in just north of Tongariro National Park and just South of Lake Taupo.

The day we arrived we decided to do the Tongariro Crossing the next day since bad weather was suppose to be coming the day after that.

The Crossing is the most popular trek in New Zealand. It's 12.6 miles long and goes up and over step terrain between the two volcanoes of Mt. Ngauruhoe & Mt. Tongariro.

It's listed as a seven hour hike, but we did it in four hours and 50 minutes. Had we known that we would have to wait two hours for the bus to take us back to town, we would have taken our time. Here's Kelly at the start of the trek.

Here's Kelly on a boardwalk shortly after we started.

A few flowers we found growing along the way.

Kelly coming up the trail as we gain elevation.

Dave & Kelly at the highest point on the trek.
Emerald Lakes on the Tongariro Crossing.

Just as we got to the top and looked down on the Emerald Lakes, a helicopter landed. We both looked at each other and said "Norman's Here!"
For those of you who don't know Norman, he's a friend of ours who surprises us at times with visits in his helicopter or private Jets. (or so he likes to believe)

Dave checking out the trail map.

Some of the beautiful volcanic scenery on the trek.

The top of Mt. Ngauruhoe as some clouds moved through.
This mountain was used in the final Lord of the Rings film as the mountain where Frodo & Sam climbed to to get rid of the ring.

The side of Mt. Ngauruhoe.

Dave on the Tongariro Crossing.

This boardwalk through the forest was at the end of our long hike. We were happy to finally reach the end, but thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful trek.

Wellington, New Zealand

After leaving New Plymouth on Tuesday morning we drove to the town of Palmerston North for one night and then drove to Wellington on Wednesday morning.

Wellington is the Capital and a beautiful city with a small town feel. I think the population is somewhere around 175,00 or so.

We stayed at a downtown Motel and spent the day walking around, mostly down along the water.

This first photo here shows the walkway that goes along the coastline and is very popular with walkers and runners. The Te Papa Museum is also shown here. It was a beautiful building, but we didn't actually go inside.

Here are a few more photos we took. There was a lot of cool art and sculptures throughout the City to look at.

This wooden sculpture was part of an overpass walkway that went over the city streets below.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Plymouth, New Zealand

Sunday morning we got our rental car and hightailed it out of Auckland. We headed south to the coastal town of New Plymouth.

We both really liked it there and decided pretty much right away to stay a second night.

There was a 7 kilometer coastal trail which we walked and is shown here in this first picture.

There are some great museums which we enjoyed as well as some art that was along the coastal trail.

This kinetic sculpture by Len Lye moves around in the wind.

Kelly & Dave in Pukekura Park. The Tom Cruise film "The Last Samurai" was shot here.

Lake & Bridge in Pukekura Park.

Our last night we got fish & chips for dinner and drove out to watch the sunset. Unfortunately by the time we got our dinner and drove to a viewing spot the sky had clouded over. We did however see the sun again here just as it disappeared.

Beach area just south of New Plymouth.

Devenport Wine & Food Festival

Saturday was the best day we had during our stay in Auckland.

We took a 12 minute ferry ride to the community of Devenport where they were having a Wine & Food Festival. There were 20 different wineries there and numerous food vendors to enjoy, but the highlight for us was the music.

The Swedish Abba cover band Bjorn Again was there and they did the 3:30 to 5:00 set playing all our favorite Abba songs.

The area was packed when they were playing and everyone was having fun singing along and dancing to the music.

The venue was right on the beach and next to the Devonport Ferry terminal.

Here the crowd is enjoying the music of Bjorn Again.

Dave & Kelly at the Festival.

The beach stage area before the crowds showed up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spending Time in Auckland

We flew to Auckland on Wednesday the 18th and are staying in a studio apartment right downtown.

We spent our first day walking around the wharf area. Of all the things we've seen so far Kelly has been most excited about the cars. Here are a few photos of one of his favorites, an Aston Martin DBS.

Here are some more photos from the wharf area. Auckland is known as the City of Sails and there's no shortage of yachts here.
Here are some photos of the area and the Sky Tower which dominates the skyline.

Our favorite yacht, which was launched just a little over two weeks ago. It's over 125' long!!