Monday 17th – rotten eggs anyone?

A day I’ve been waiting 9 years for!! Many moons ago, when I worked in Birmingham, I became good friends with a rep that came into work, a lovely guy called Darren. He went on a holiday to NZ and in return for him having looked at my Aus pictures, I looked at his NZ ones and saw the most amazing different coloured pools of water, today I’d see some for myself!

But first there was a tent to pack up, breakfast to have and a drive back through the windy roads to Rotorua and beyond.

I’m not complaining but I’ve got to do lots of the driving around NZ and I’m loving it. I’ve always loved driving, the rally driving I did last year was a highlight, but the roads here are pretty cool! We’d bought 2 CDs on our trip to Warehouse – something I’d done for Aus – music to drive to and remember the trip by – my choice was a 4cd compilation of pop songs to be played at loud volume and to be sung along to……

Some might say it was a long drive that day, but with the distraction of windy roads and the smell of sulphur in the air the journey to Wai-o-Tapu flew by.

The place was amazing amazing amazing, we were there for a good 2 hours marvelling at the colours, the smell, the heat, the eerie noises and the smell! We were too late to see the geyser they artificially set off, but they do stamp your ticket so in theory you can come back at a later date to see it. There’s also some mud pools a 5min drive away – for free – really cool!

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We stayed and had lunch in the visitors centre and paid $2 to charge our camera batteries/phones – campsites are not great for electricity!

The drive through Taupo and around the lake was amazing – it’s indescribably massive! We stopped to stock up on food for the upcoming few days – museli and coffee for breakfast, lunches of peanut butter and jam sarnies, quiche and cheese/chutney slice things, dinners of instant noodles, cans of tuna/chicken with dehydrated vegetables and snacks of peanuts, yummy mix, mini Mars bars, nature valley bars, some sweets and finally apples for some vitamins!

Drive to Whakapapa was beautiful with glimpses of thermal vents with steam coming out, odd wiffs of sulphur and finally a snow topped volcano!

We arrived at the Whakapapa Holiday Park just after the office had closed, but as promised directions to our site were in the folder. We got the tent up, sorted all our stuff – clothes for the next few days, food/snacks into what we’d eat each day, tent, sleeping bags etc – was so much!!! But we’d been good and there really wasn’t anything we didn’t need, well apart from maybe the coffee maker, but that was the only treat…..

I’d promised to try to Skype Nikki for one last time before she got back on the boat to sail to China(!). It had not occurred to me that there might not be a good enough signal, but that was sadly the case. So instead we whatsapp-ed, chatting, advising, exchanging encouragement and photos – going to be hard not having her around again, especially now I know how hard she’s really been finding it, but she’s brave and super determined so I know she’ll get through it, just needs to arrive by 8th March for my birthday Skype!! They’re due in 7-9th so keeping my fingers crossed!

Dinner was not going to be instant noodles, so went off in search of proper food and a small drinkette….. Luck was in as, attached to the super fancy looking Chateau Tongariro, was a lovely little restaurant serving the most amazing burger and a cheeky red wine – a perfect pre-tramping meal.

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Tomorrow’s part of the Northern Circuit is only 3 hours so an early start wasn’t planned!

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