The road down to Napier via yet more Hot Thermal Springs
04.01.2009 - 04.01.2009 28 °C
Sunday 4th January 2009
We decided to go the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park on the way out of Rotorua so checked out sharpish and zoomed down the road to get there before their main attraction, the Lady Knox Geyser ( no relation to you Ray ??) 'errupted' at 10.15am. This is where I get a little cynical, as the 'erruption' was actually orchestrated by one of the park guides who has the job of putting soap powder down a hole into the Geyser every day to ensure it errupts bang on schedule in front of all the tourists. When I heard about this I was less than impressed, and fairly sceptical of the whole thing, however it was a beautiful sunny day and I was detremined to be positive.
To be fair it was, as ever with Rotorua, a very well organised affair with the tourists literally playing "Wacky Races" to get into the visitors centre, queue for their entry tickets then drive the 2km back out to the Geyser, park their cars and scramble for the best viewing on some rather dodgey wooden benches. We both found it hilarious and got well into the spirit of things fighting off Japanese tourists for a bench. The guide almost acted like a Master of Ceremonies and kept the tension building while he gave us a historical premable about the geyser followed by a technical description about how the soap powder like subtstance triggered the erruption of water from the Geyser ( the soap powder reduces the waters surface tension and this then forces the hot steam and water to the surface in a forceful jet of up to 10 metres - gee's, dont I sound like a clever scientist ?? !!)
The whole thing took on comedy status when just before the erruption all we could see from our seats was bellowing hot steam, covering everything and everyone. I thought it was hilarious watching everyone ( including Valerie) trying to get their video shots by jostling into position only to have it thwarted by lots of steam. To be fair I think I managed to get one or two half decent shots and it was certainly far 'gush-ier' than any of the ones I saw in Chile, although the fact that it was kick started kind of detracts a little from the whole experience.There was also no mention of dead tourists here in Wai-O-Tapu, which was an added bonus. Have to say though that I dont think Id be rushing back to see a geyser of any shape, size or description after my two most recent experiences.
Valerie and I returned to the car and round two of "Wacky Races" as we frantically tried to get to the other car park and commence the walk around the Geo- thermal park. This was a pleasant enough walk around formations, thermal pools and more hot springs - all of which had very grand sounding names such as "Devil's Ink Pots" and "Champagne Pool". Im thinking some of the names were maybe just a bit on the grand side, however it was a good hour and a half walk and we took loads of photos.
After a quick bite to eat in the Cafe we headed off on the road to Napier, stopping only at Lake Taupo on the way (begs me to ask why on earth didnt we opt to stay at Taupo insted of Rotorua - seems much much nicer and has a beautiful lake, the largest in New Zealand and bigger than Singapore !!). Next time for sure !!!
Got to Napier around 4.20pm and I LOVED it from the minute we drove into it ; its a lovely sleepy kind of town with the most amazing Art Deco buildings ( largest concentration of them in the world). All stems from the town being completely rebuilt in less than 2 yeras after the great earthquake of 1931. The buildings were all fashioned in the style of the time (and that was by chance Art Deco). Napier has since managed to make a whole tourist industy on its architecture, although I reckon the glorious sunshine has something to do with it as well.
Was a bit thin on the ground in terms of decent restaurants though ; we ended up eating at a new-ish restaurant just along from our hotel on the promenade called Med. Not a bad meal and the menu was fairly extensive.
Need to mention the hotel room, staying at Te Pania ( a Scenic Circle hotel), and our room impressed us by having two windows facing out onto the promenade and the beach - quite impressive views, almost a total 180 degree view.
Napier is definitely what I thought New Zealand would be like - and the sunshine is just a total bonus ; been told its full of old people but reckon if my friend Lynn can have a wild night or two here then so can we, and besides its seriously classy. The shops are all a bit quirky and different and the people we've met so far are incredibly friendly. Like Ive already said, I JUST LOVE IT !!!!