Exploding geyser 3

Today we drove through some of the most stunning scenery and scenery that was really stark. Before we started on the road to Wellington we went to see the geyser erupt as we were unable to see it when we were at the thermal pools.

Exploding geyser 3The geyser explodes

The geyser is situated at another site from the pools further up the road. There was a very large crowd but plenty of parking and seating. The geyser is active but has been ‘treated’ so as not to erupt by itself. Once a day, at 10:30, it is manually operated to erupt by putting in a large quantity of soap. Although it took a few minutes to react when it did, it was amazing.

Exploding geyser 5The geyser dies down

Thereafter we got on to the road south. The scenery within a very short time became lush and green. New Zealand (NZ) receives a lot of rain and so the vegetation is generally very lush and beautiful. We were to discover further on this trip that not all of the land is like this. Our first stop was near the town of Taupo which is built around the lake of the same name.

Taupo and snow on mountainsTown of Taupo with the Lake and snow covered mountains as a background

Lake Taupo is the largest lake in NZ. It is a volcanic caldera (collapsed crater) formed after a major eruption about 1800 years ago. There was a viewing site up on a hill near the road where we stopped to take some photos of the town the lake and the snow covered mountains as a beautiful backdrop.

Lake Taupo 3Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo with snow on mountainsGorgeous view of Lake Taupo

Our agent’s manual told us that not far from the town were the Huka Falls. We took a wrong turn when we first left the highway but this meant that we got to see the Huka Prawn Park as well. This is actually a Prawn Farm with huge dams as well as picnic area with lots of play equipment for children and a restaurant. The size of the prawns on the plates we saw being served we had to take a photo. An employee of the Prawn Park gave us directions to the Falls which were small but very beautiful – definitely worth stopping to see then.

Ent to Prawn ParkEntrance to Huka Prawn Park

Jetty at Prawn pondOne of the Prawn breeding ponds

Huka Falls 2The Huka Falls

Continuing along the highway we climbed down a mountain pass which was not too steep but very windy so one had to be careful when negotiating the corners. We came to the bottom of the pass and as we climbed the other side the scenery changed quite dramatically. The land was much drier and the grass brown as we were so high up. It was the Rangipo Desert. Although quite different, the scenery was stunning. 

We gradually descended from this high mountain desert discovering lush farm land but were surprised as how few sheep we saw having been told that there are more sheep than people in NZ. What we did begin to see more and more of were windbreaks; hedges of very tall trees.

Wind breakPortion of a windbreak

Coming in to WellingtonApproach to Wellington

As we came closer to Wellington it started to rain very gently which increased overnight. On arrival at the hotel we found that there was nowhere to park the car close to the hotel and parking fees were exorbitant – NZ$4.50/hr. For once luck was on our side as a car came out of a parking bay as we arrived at it and there were 20mins left on the clock. We made our way through the rain down the 2 blocks back to the hotel. When we registered we were surprised to learn that there was no hotel parking available. They said that we could park at a garage about half a km away and we would pay the bill at the hotel. This way we could enter and exit the garage without having to pay every time. The cost was NZ$35.00/24hrs but that fee started every time the car left and re-entered. Not such a great deal as we could come and go 3 or 4 times in the next 36 hours. We discovered that there is NO FREE parking bay ANYWHERE at ANYTIME in Wellington.

Wellington Cenotaph 3The Duke of Wellington Cenotaph

Once we had used their garage to unpack Trevor went out into the now pouring rain to find parking for the night. He was successful for the exception that he had to move the car before 08:00 as we were in the middle of the city. We found another parking for an hour while we had breakfast and then went out into the pouring rain.

Ent to RC MonasteryEntrance to RC Monastery

St Pauls Old ChurchOld St Paul’s Church

 Info on St Pauls

Information on St Paul’s Church

Even though the travel agent had recommended various activities in and around the city but the weather made it impossible. We drove around and took many photos, mainly from the inside the car, as it was quite impossible to step out. After about an hour we returned to the hotel having decided to spend the day resting and preparing for the next big leg of our journey to the South Island. Trevor enquired at Reception and we finally had some luck. There had been cancelation and we could have a parking at the hotel.

Sculptures outside museumSculptures outside the Museum

Sculpture of boatSculpture of an old Maori boat at the entrance to the Museum

The next day we were we to go through the Milford Sound which we had heard was positively beautiful.