Leaving Lake Taupo behind me to the south, I set a course for Rotorua. Scarcely was I post the Taupo town limits when a signpost informed me of the grandly titled “Craters of the Moon”. “Well, as far as detours are concerned, it’s just one small step of for man”, I thought and then laughed at my own joke.
The short version of this story is “Craters of the Moon was dull. Don’t go.” You’ll have to resort to trick photography to amuse yourself.
To keep the cosmic balance of good and evil, I also stopped at the Huka Falls a few miles further up the road and this time felt the application of the handbrake to have been worthwhile.
Whakarewarewa (a greatly abbreviated version of the full name) is a traditional Mauri geothermal village and was my first scheduled stop in Rotorua. Arriving 45 minutes prior to the guided tour, I had time to tuck into a hangi lunch. Hangi cooking uses the steam vents and hot pools in the village to boil and stream the food, often leaving it more succulent than if it had been cooked by other methods.
Once my hangi was hungi, I met the village guide and joined a group to learn the traditions and history of the locale. At the end of the tour we were treated to some traditional Maori dancing and singing which, though hopelessly contrived in the context, was still quite fun.
Onwards thence to the Skyline – a gondola lift to the top of a steep hill with a view over Lake Rotorua. Into the hillside had been cut a luge track and mountain bike trails. Being the big kid that I am I did the luge. Five times.
As the bike trails looked pretty extreme, I decided to hire a bike the following day in the redwood forests where beginner and intermediate level tracks could also be found. Here is an amusing recording of me to talk you through how that went. I was to have yet another fall after filming this.
Purely by good fortune, it turned out Rotorua was hosting a street food festival and, after watching some street dancing where four out of five dancers performed perfect backflips and the fifth landed a perfect face-plant, I tucked into several tasty morsels from different countries of origin.
Mount Maunganui next up: a large, extinct volcano on the east coast of the north island. I hadn’t left myself huge amounts of time to explore here so I turned a walk uphill into a painful, uphill training run, spent five minutes admiring the view, took a pic and ran down again. A short shower later and I was wending my way back to Auckland for my flight to Christchurch on the south island.