(September 14, 2012) Rotorua and Tongariro N.P.
This day is the one with more kilometers to cover. In this
route from the North of the island to the South we probably will stop
for lunching in Taupo. In our way that morning we pass through
beautiful volcanic areas, different than anything we’ve seen before.
The candidates to be visited are: Waimangu, Wai O Tapu and Craters of
The main visit, and likely the first, would be Wai O Tapu.
There is a geiser in there, called Lady Know, which is activated with
soup every morning at 10:30h.
Afternoon would be dedicated to Tongariro National
Park, where we will be able to enjoying the view of the three volcanoes
there. Tongariro is the one gives its name to the park, but Ngauruhoe
is the one used in “Lord of the rings” trilogy as Mount Doom, where the
ring should be destroyed. We will stop there to watch the landscapes
which will recall Mordor ones.
Then we ideally would drive to Eketahuna, where
there is a cheap and – based on the reviews – fantastic Holyday Park
close to the first visit of the next day. If we reach it we
will win a valuable time for the next day.
If we complete this itinerary we will cover 450
Km, which will take around 6 hours approximately.
Waimangu admission fee:
Wai O Tapu admission fee:
Craters of the Moon admission fee: 6 NZD
As the sun rises we are there for shower and breakfast. My
bizarre sleep, which still makes me waking up around 4 AM, allows me to
write another page for this web site.
Today is the day we must drive more time in the whole travel, but it
will be basically at afternoon. Now we are going to see this city and
visit the geothermal areas around. First step then is going to the
museum, a beautiful building, and using the nearby i-site to get the
We drive to there but, as parking
three motorhomes is not easy, we get into the “Countdown” supermarket
car park. That makes things easier, as we all needed to get some
goodies. I go to i-site and the rest will perform their shopping. I
find the i-site just in the clock tower building, a little further than
I thought, after around four long blocks of shops closed some minutes
past 8 AM. Somehow, when I’m coming back with the tickets around 9 AM,
shops are opened and there are several for souvenirs with good prices.
I get into one and do a quick purchase of stuffed kiwis.
I go into the supermarket, as the group is still there, and explain
about the souvenirs shops as I know they want their gifts too. We then
decide to forget about geyser at 10:15h to be able of do some shopping
finally in this travel.
This city stinks,
literally, but we’re getting used to the peculiar smell of rotten eggs
of this whole area, which we already noticed yesterday and it is still
With this, we leave Rotorua around noon and, in 15 minutes, we’re in Wai O Tapu, the main geothermal attraction.
We do the whole itinerary in Wai O Tapu, walking through craters with
the known smell, only it is stronger as per, in some moments, needing
to use our hand to close nose and mouth. This is essential when
reaching Champagne Pool, the beautiful bubbled pool green with orange
borders, which gives a dense smoke off practically unbreathable. But it
is big and wonderful and the most steaming place in the whole Wai O
Tapu. There is a wooden platform to go across it to follow the path.
Apart of this highlight, the area is full of pools with impossible
colors depending of the minerals coming from the deepest part of the
earth. There are endless and colorful craters as the one in the
picture labeled as "Devil's Home" but, being there, I really thing is
just the toilet. Vegetation is affected too and shows parts in brown or
orange making part of the path a creepy look, as for a fairy tale
forest. This is unique in the world and you feel like it is.
We leave the place amazed, but wishing to get this smell off of our
clothes, and we drive directly to Taupo Lake with just a single stop in
the way in Huka Falls, a spectacular falls because of their volume of
flow more than the height, which make them strong and noisy. Once in
Taupo, we use the “Countdown” car park twice today, but with so little
space this time.
Taupo is the largest lake in New
Zealand and names the city in its shore which we are. It’s a kind of
town with a lot of live but, as we’re passing along a lot of
restaurants, they’re mostly closed and, the ones which are not are
closing now, at 15:30h.
We finally manage to lunch
shawarmas in a small Turkish place with just a few chairs outside. The
restaurants are mainly Japanese or Thais around here.
With a full stomach we can go on with our drive. Next stop is a
National Park with three volcanoes on it. One of them was used on “Lord
of the rings” trilogy as Mount Doom and, therefore, all its surrounding
area has been renamed as “Mordor”, as those are the landscapes of that
fictional… I don’t know… country?
Here is the sun
which marks the end time for our visit and, although we could see - or sense - the
volcanoes from the road since time ago, we take the long gravel
road at dusk.
On this drive, we can feel the loneliness of the place,
in a path in the middle of the vast flats surface full of small and
brown vegetation, with the shape of the base of the hidden mountain in
front, completely white. We end in a parking area which seems to be in
improvements. There is absolutely nobody here and we can find
toilettes, water and the start of the Tongariro track. Snow is close to
us, but it is not that cold as we could expect. It’s a pity we cannot
enjoy the full view of Ruapehu.
We leave the place
on time of getting the road before dark, we must miss then the road to
Whakapapa and driving as far as possible. If we manage to reach
Erekahuna today, we’ve practically crossed Northern Island vertically
in one day.
And we do it. Around 23:00h we arrive
to the lonely and dark Holyday Park, after five hours driving from
Tongariro and fighting against the sleep on the last ones. Now, we only
have to plug our motorhomes and rest.