So for those of you who didn’t know – New Zealand has 2 main islands; North and South Islands. So far we’ve been on the North Island in Auckland since the beginning of September but we travelled south a couple of weeks later towards central North Island (Taupo & Rotorua) and then west coast (New Plymouth).

We were going to up north from Auckland but decided to stalk our new Soton friends for a little longer (they leave New Zealand earlier). So Lake Taupo is located in a crater of a volcano (created when it went off 26,000 years ago). The last time an eruption happened in AD 186 even the people in Rome and China could see it – the skies were red.

Here is Chris in front of Lake Taupo. Luckily not much was happening.

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We visited some geothermal stuff in the Rotorua area which was about an hour’s drive away. It was kind of similar to Yellowstone although the Lady Grey Geyser was given a ‘helping hand’ to make it go off at a regular time each day. The landscape is pretty interesting as you can see from the pictures below.

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There’s a lot going on in these waters, from memory the Champagne pool below has stuff like arsenic, mercury and gold amongst other things.

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This is the Devil’s bath below. The photos don’t do it justice – the green is as bright as a highlighter green!

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We saw some impressive mud pools although I wouldn’t dip my toes in it, it’s hot enough to boil you – the steam can reach 100 degrees celcius…

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After this, we visited the nearby Redwood forest. Yes there are other Redwoods in the world, which made me glad as we missed the Californian ones. These in NZ are of course just baby ones planted around 100 years or so ago. Speaking of age, it’s kind of amusing when people in America or NZ say this is old (e.g. house or castle) but to us in the UK it’s young by comparison. I remember staying in this awesome Welsh cottage where part of it was built in the 16th century.

In the second picture below, you can almost imagine the dead ones in Lord of the Rings…

img_8268img_8283img_8289The picture above of the models was at the entrance of the park. Interesting choice of clothing.

Well most of the time in Taupo, it’s been wet and cold but it isn’t so bad when your airbnb place has a fireplace! (Also a massive shiny smart tv).

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Luckily there was a really good day so we tramped to Huka Falls nearby. The water is so clear.

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We went for a tramp in the Tongariro National Park and saw Mount Doom.(Mt Ngauruhoe). I didn’t see why Frodo had so much trouble, it looked like a fairly straighforward hike.

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The clouds lifted just as we left, argh!

So what do you do when the weather is rubbish? (Aside from making fires and watching Downton Abbey on Netflix..) Why you pop down to the local McD and have a meal in the plane!

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We also got invited by our Airbnb host (Paulette) and her mother (Peggy) for a roast lamb dinner. Yum. They’re such lovely people and Peggy was just awesome telling us loads of stories. Peggy’s grandparents (mid-19th century) took 5 months by boat to get to NZ from the UK. When Peggy went travelling ito the UK in her 20s, it took her 5 weeks via the Panama canal and now its about 26 hours by plane. Insane.

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There’s some really cool murals around Taupo if you go for a wander.

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So we decided to head west towards New Plymouth (where Mt Taranaki is). On our way we stopped off at a lagoon in Pureora Forest. It was a hairy drive but one of the best things I’ve experienced in New Zealand. You park up yor car, start walking through the forest, which apart from the path there seemed to exist in another world; everything was so green even the trees had green plants growing on them and you can only hear the call of the birds. And then the lagoon. It was so beautiful and just a quiet drip drip sound from the rain collecting onto the trees with the occassional call from the birds.

Well worth doing.

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We found some sunshine on the way to New Plymouth!

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Our Airbnb garden! Such a lovely place. Too bad it kept raining >.<

There was a lemon tree in the garden and I made some hot lemon tea with it 🙂 I want my own lemon tree one day!

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We explored the coast around Mt Taranaki over a couple of days. There was a place covered with mugs…

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74 metre fall – Damper Fallsimg_8570

Admiring the view from inside as it was so wet.img_8593img_8600

Everytime you go into a forest, the first thing that strikes you is how green everything is. I mentioned before how the trees have lots of stuf growing on them, here’s a couple of examples below.

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Celebrating our anniversary with a yummy south indian meal. I had a giant dosa.

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We finally saw Mt Taranaki (well some of it) before we left the coast! It’s been covered in cloud the few days we were there.

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So to end with New Plymouth, which is a cool little town with awesome murals (I won’t lie, I used Pokemon Go to find some of them – Pokemon Go marks out landmarks and art works).

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It’s a cool little town and if you’re ever there, try the cupcakes from Humdinger cake shop (about 10 minutes away from the main street). It’s worth it.

I end with this picture. Enjoy.

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