Monday: ‘No big goodbyes’

Originally I pencilled a piece called ‘no big goodbyes’, because I just didn’t expect to meet people I would really click with after my experience of the South Island, not in the way other people had. Of course it was sad to leave people behind, but I never had the time with people.

I was either hopping off or they were. I met some fantastic people, I just never formed one solid group for an extended time. Although reflecting on the group from Franz Josef to Queenstown, that doesn’t quite feel like the right phrase.

Today I said goodbye to a lovely lovely person. We really clicked, and we’ve been on the same bus for the last week. Tomorrow I will say goodbye to the rest of my group. I really dislike goodbyes, they’re so final. I’m really going to miss the people on my final bus. I’m so so happy I got to spend the last week and a half with them. I’m so happy to have had a variety of experiences on this trip. 

I’m tempted to write; ‘I wish I was starting my trip over with these guys, on this bus’ but then I’d never have met all of the lovely people before. And I’m leaving here with so many great memories, with the best people.

Te Puia

I knew they’d be the chance to witness first hand the geothermic activity in Rotorua. Thing is, I was under the impression there was a national park you could walk through for free. This was not the case. The only free hot springs to view were opposite the hostel I didn’t stay in last night because I was at the Maori village.

So I’ve paid $32 to enter Te Puia to see mud pools, hot springs and kiwi birds (and to have a guided tour for an hour or two).

Before I left, aside from the ‘no list’ of activities my parents would rather I didn’t do (bungy jumping for example – which I personally have no desire to do anyway), my Dad told me about a geography lesson he had at school, where he saw photos of these hot pools in Rotorua. He told me I had to come and see them. I promised him a photo and seeing as I couldn’t snap the glow works in the cave the other day (a postcard will have to do), I’m excited to send him actual photos of this!

It’s a Maori cultural centre too so it’s all pretty interesting. The guide is going to get some fresh eggs, place them in a woven basket and will cook them in a hot pool to demonstrate how hot it is! How nuts is that?!

Traditional Maori store house – raised off the ground to keep birds out (remember: NZ only had two endemic mammals, two species of bat). Therefore the only creatures they had to deter were birds.
Maori only carve trees that are 800-1000 years one because they’re more likely to naturally fall down, it’s illegal to cut them down.

In some of the hot pools, it can be 95 degrees – way too hot to bath in, so they’re just used for cooking – there’s no bacteria in the water and the smell of sulphur doesn’t taint the food. 

These hot pools are dotted all over Rotorua as its actually inside the crust of a volcanic crater, hence all of the geothermic activity. They can be quite dangerous though, because the volcanic crust here can be pretty thin. Geysers sometimes just appear out of no where! Apparently, about 4 months ago, one just appeared. 

Taking away the water reduces the activity, which is why there’s a plant out of Rotorua on the way to Taupo, which tempers it. 

Rotorua was seen as a good place to build a town because of the natural heat and energy, (it was cold then). 

Sometimes geysers can pop up in houses! Our guide said: imagine a lightening bolt, it zig zags to find its way to ground, that’s what happens with geysers. If this activity didn’t naturally occur, it would be replaced with serious earthquakes – of 8 or 9 in scale. 

3 years ago this track was walkable but an earthquake moved it

This used to be the biggest geyser in the works, reaching 90 feet! But now it remains dormant because of all of the digging down in previous years gone by.
This geyser acts as an indicator as to when the big geyser (Pubutu) will erupt! At full eruption, it is 30-40 metres for 5-10 minutes! Geyser water has a lot of minerals in it, which can be seen in the face of the rocks.

Puhutu is a natural geyser and is therefore a little impossible to predict. 

The largest mud pool is 500 years old and 95-100 degrees. The moisture infuses with the steam and gas and it bubbles. It’s turned into mud masks because it’s so rich in minerals.

North island brown kiwi – they were massive! But I have to admit, this was my least favourite Kiwi encounter in New Zealand, the centre at Franz Josef was far superior simply because I felt I got really close to the birds, whereas here, they were behind thick glass and we were asked to keep the line moving.

90% of NZ resources are renewably sourced, almost 100% and the 5 stations around Taupo are enough for almost half a million homes.
14 rivers flow into lake Taupo and only one flowing out of it, the longest in New Zealand which flows north to Hamilton up to Raglan. It’s wide as it exits the lake but it really narrow in parts, which creates a waterfall with over 1000 litres of water passing by per second! 

 I’m back in Taupo, and it’s as lovely as it was last time. 

The only difference really, apart from my direction of travel, is that I’m not hopping back on the kiwi bus. Not tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that.

I’m going to get a bus directly from Taupo to Wellington (meaning I’m skipping out River Valley).

Many people told me that this was their favourite stop of the trip, largely because of the grade 5 White water rafting. But those of you who have been following my blog know my feelings towards water sports: I’m glad I’ve done all the ones I’ve done but I feel no need or desire to ever do them again. I am far happier on land!

It’s not just that. I’m tired. And I’ve spent more than I originally wanted / planned / budgeted so essentially, I want to go to Wellington, to do my laundry, to say goodbye to old friends and to relax. I want to do nothing. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Of course, I’ve questioned if I’m doing the right thing, if I’ll regret it down the line, but I think this is the right thing for me. I’ve been pretty tired and feeling run down since Kaikoura. 

A few bad sleeps make a big difference when you’re moving every day. It’s ironic though, that I spent so long looking for a group, which I then found, and am now leaving early. But in saying that, many of them said they were staying in other places longer, and I didn’t want to spend my last night in River Valley with random people because I’ll be finishing the next day.

So I chose to jump ship early.

Tomorrow I’m hiking up Mount Doom at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It’s said to take between 7-9 hours. I think I’ll need the extra rest days in Wellington. And while I won’t hop on the kiwi experience again, I will spend the day with my group, and set off on my own on Wednesday.

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