Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kuratau to Whakatane: Taupo, Huka Falls, Wai-O-Tapu, & Zorb

Another driving least one filled with some fun stops and activities! After leaving the bach in Kuratau, we headed north around Lake Taupo to the city of Taupo. Vicky had recommended that we try the 'Replete' cafe for coffee and a light something to eat, which we did. Again, the coffee didn't disappoint. We had a little trouble finding the cafe and asked one of the store-workers on the main drag who told us it was the 'awesomest cafe ever'.

Then we moved on to Huka Falls, which is a narrow canyon that tries to squeeze a lot of water through it:

After that we stopped for quite a while at the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland. We had been seeing geothermal activity for the past couple of days, but this park is one of the best examples of the different kinds of pools and mineral deposits that can occur. Here is Dana standing in front of one of the craters caused by superheated water eroding the ground from the bottom:

There was a strong sulpher smell all throughout the park and in fact throughout most of the drive today - it drove me nuts!

These are called the Devil's Ink Pots:

And here are a couple of shots of the Champagne Pool, one of the more famous pools in the park:

We took the long trail, about an hour and a half.

At the end is Devil's Bath, which is green because of excess water from the Champagne Pool mixing with sulphur and ferrous salts:

After getting our fill of sulpher smells we got out of there and headed on to north of Rotorua where we hoped to try zorbing. Unfortunately the 'dry zorb' run wasn't available today because of high winds so we watched a couple of people do the 'wet zorb' and decided it wasn't quite the right time to do that, and so we pressed on.

We arrived in Whakatane around 5 and were able to find Steve and Vicky's place, where we were treated to a great meal, a lovely guest room, and wireless internet! Life is good :).

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