|Lots of things to update you all on and I also have the luxury of a laptop (with Word!) so there shouldn't be as many spelling mistakes! It also means that we have time to tell you about some of the things that we have forgotten to mention in previous entries such as the Queenstown panel beaters - Lord of the Dings, and the New Zealand basketball team - The Tall Blacks. Whilst we've been travelling we've seen an awful lot of people carriers from a rental company called "spaceships". In an effort to be even more quirky, each of the spaceships has a name and I have attached a picture of the one we spotted at Lake Tarawera.
Anyway, on with the journal.... Our next stop was The Lodge at Lake Tarawera as recommended by our next door neighbours in Chesham! It's only about 15 minutes away from Rotorua so we spent the morning pottering about town. The first and best thing we did was visit the Polynesian Spa for a half hour float in the mineral-rich natural waters (mineral rich = eggy). In addition to the main pools there are lots of private pools available so we went in one of those, not as decadent as it sounds though as there are 17 of them and are only $10 for 30 mins. They're like deep hot tubs with hot mineral water on tap and it's fantastic to just sit and float around in the water. There's also a shower in each private area so you don't have to go around whiffing of egg for the rest of the day. Did a little bit of souvenir shopping and then a snack at the fantastic Fat Dog café and lunch at the Pig & Whistle which is an old police station converted into a pub.
On the way to The Lodge we stopped at the Buried Village of Te Wairoa, home of the famous Pink & White Terraces (the 8th Wonder of the World apparently) but all sadly destroyed when Mount Tarawera erupted in June 1886. There was no real warning about the eruption and so almost all the villagers died. You can read more about the Pink & White Terraces here at www.anheizen.com/terraces/ The village was quite interesting but we couldn't spend too long there as Steve got attacked by sandflies every time he stood still which was a bit unfortunate as they are mean little blighters. There is also a little walk down to a waterfall with good views of the lake. It's literally 2 minutes from there to The Lodge which I have to say is absolutely superb. Jeff and Janine (friends of our neighbours, Caroline and Andy) who run it couldn't have been nicer and invited us over for pre-dinner drinks which turned into a full blown dinner invite so we didn't stagger back to our little cottage until god knows what time and we both have to confess to feeling a little delicate the following morning...
Off to Auckland the next day which was a bit bittersweet as it signifies our time in New Zealand is coming to an end. Booh! First things first, we went down to The Landing café at the edge of Lake Tarawera for a kill or cure breakfast. We had the "Fishermans Fancy" which is basically a festival of meat with a bit of scrambled egg and some toast and it was superb. We were kept company by a very persistent little dog who watched every forkful until the plates were empty and even then kept up a vigil until we paid and left. We stopped off to do a circuit of the Blue Lake which is only a couple of hours stroll around the lake edge just to work off some of that brekkie, before heading to Rotorua for a last bit of shopping. It started raining really heavily and thundering when we were having a coffee which made it really cosy. There's something very comforting about sitting in a nice warm café when it's horrible outside, except when you have to run back to the car to do a 3 hour drive!