Thursday, July 21, 2011
The next day, after a freezing breakfast, we were off to Rotorua. But first I wanted to stop at the ski hill of Whakapapa (read: Fa-ka-pa-pa). The name was very intriguing. The ski hill is quite small and the village even smaller. There wasn’t too much to look at. To get to Rotorua we had to backtrack about 100km’s, but I really wanted to see the hot mud pools and geysers. For some reason there’s a lot of different thermal activity in that area. Our first stop was Te Puia. This is a park geared to educate people about the Maori history as well as to showcase the mud pools and geysers. The tour guide was free to so we decided to visit the park with him. It’s a good thing too because otherwise there wouldn’t have been much to see. Except for a couple of mud pools and one active geyser, there wasn’t much to see. But the guide takes you through the history of the Maori people and that was very interesting, but not interesting enough to pay $40 per person. I was a little disappointed in the whole experience. We were going to stay in Rotorua overnight, but the town is quite small and there wasn’t much more for us to do, so we ate some food and moved on to the area near the Waitomo caves. This is a popular area to see glow worms but the prices are ridiculous (over $100 per person) and were way out of our price range so we just stayed at the hostel for the night (I grilled the lady on the phone about the conditions of the hostel and inspected it before we even considered staying there. She thought I was crazy). We spent a relaxing evening in front of the T.V. The next day as we were about to leave the hostel, I noticed a lonely cow standing in the field that belonged to the hostel (I think). I was sure it was going to run away as I came up to it, but no, he stood right where he was and was very happy to have me pet him and rub his head. He (I think it was a he) kept pushing his head into my palm and Andrew and I had a blast giving him the rubbies. He was very cute. And then, I turn around and I see a big pig in its pen. And there’s a little piggy with it. I coaxed it into coming over, but surprisingly cows are a lot softer than pigs. After all the petting, Andrew and I smelled like a farm. The goal was to reach Wellington that day so we didn’t have a lot of time to waste as it was an 8 hour drive. We did get to drive by Mt. Teranaki and I’m glad to say it did not erupt and it was only an illusion we had seen during our Tongariro Crossing.