We got to Rotorua early
afternoon. This place is known for its natural thermal activity
going on. So in many places you see steam just gushing out
filling the air with a hhmm nice sulphur smell! There are
always new thermal findings happening. We stopped at a park
that had quite a few blow holes in it. These were only
‘discovered’ in 2001, blowing without warning and sending mud
and all a good 200m in the sky. So there are plenty of fenced
off strange bubbling mud holes.
A good thing to do here though
is to go to a thermal spa. We went to the famous Polynesian Spa
in the town and apart from just going into the various hot pools
we had a wet massage. A strange experience as while being
massaged you are being sprayed with very strong water jets.
Very nice feeling. Poor woman though getting soaked every time
she has to do that!
After what was a very cold
night in the campervan we headed into Lake Taupo. This is the
North Island’s main activity centre. Their info centre is huge
with a million and one things you can do in and around the
area. We had seen the town were having their Half Marathon on
the Sunday when in Rotorua so we asked if we could pay on the
day. The answer was ‘yes’ which meant we had just (willingly)
signed up to 13.1 miles of agony… We decided we would head off
to Napier to spend the night and come back.
Napier is known for its wine
region and the town being designed throughout in an Art Deco
style. We were tempted to taste some wine, but with the race
only a few days away we thought we’d better not. The town gets
its Art Deco touch from being nearly flattened in the 1920’s
from an earthquake so they rebuilt the city to the latest modern
theme. All you need is Bugsy Malone and a few gangsters to
finish it off! We did the short drive to Hastings where you can
drive up this very steep, narrow road to a point where you can
see so much around. Very high. We got there just in time to
see the area lighting up for the night. We headed back to
Napier for the night for some pre-race pasta!
Next day being a Saturday we
came back to Lake Taupo in time to pre-register for the race on
Sunday. One of us also had in our goody bags a lucky draw
leaflet! There was a huge array of prizes up for grabs in the
draw so we were very excited for five mins and expected to get a
garden chair set or something of no use and something we
certainly couldn’t put in our bag. Our excitement soon
disappeared as our prize wasn’t a nice bit of Orca kit but a
glossy brochure on something or other that we could have
probably got next door in the info centre! Hey ho after that we
just vegged out watching the serious queuing of people
collecting their race entry packs.
That night we parked up in the
race car park ready for the race and ate some more pasta… We
woke up to a cold over cast day with threatening rain. Well
after a bit of a breakfast and a warm up we gave our legs a good
talking to. “You may not have run since Brazil and certainly
not that sort of distance, but mentally you should get us
It was a big race field for NZ
standards with lots of locals turning out. We both set off on
our own just plodding along hoping that would be enough to get
us home ok. By about 15km the legs sure knew something was
happening and by the last few km’s the brain knew what needed to
be done but the legs weren’t having any of it! Ouch! We
crossed the line still in respectable times and luckily in time
before the heavens opened.
So after much needed hot soup
and bread we stayed for what was a great race prize giving. Not
just the medals for the winners but another huge prize giving.
The field was full of people waiting for their race number to be
called out. Anything from overseas holidays, white goods, tv’s
No more prizes for us so we
headed like many others to the local Taupo spa for a good hot
tub soak and a shower. After doing some laundry while eating
some more fush’n’chups we headed south and pulled up for the
night after a couple of hours driving.
Next day we got to
Martinborough which is an area known for some great wines. This
was a very quiet small little village/town. We parked up the
camper and got the walking wine tour guide and walked around the
various wineries of different sizes for an afternoon of wine
tasting. We finished up in the wine centre tasting some more
and being educated by a lady who left England many years ago.
There was only us around being a Monday but it was good though!
So NO driving that night…
The following day we headed for
Wellington. After getting our ferry ticket all sorted out for
the early evening crossing we headed for the national museum
called Te Papa. Great museum very well done! With the sun
shining we wondered around the town, got some lunch and ate it
up the top of Mt Victoria. Some great views across the city.
Later on we made our way to the ferry port for our crossing over
to the South Island to Picton…