Today was a wonderfully lazy and relaxing day. We picked a few destinations out on our way to Rotorua and packed up the car. A new friend from our hostel in Taupo joined us for the first leg of the trip, getting out to continue hitchhiking once we left the highway.
Our first stop was the perhaps too strongly worded Wai-O-Tapu, a thermal wonderland.
We spent just under ninety minutes walking around the “thermal wonderland”, marveling at the sights and trying as hard as we could not to take in the smells.
From there we drove to a small thermally heated stream just off the highway. There are no pictures to share for this part because we didn’t bring our phones along, but I can try to paint the scene regardless. After walking down a small wooded path alongside a stream for a few hundred feet we came to a small five foot tall waterfall. At the bottom was a large shallow pool, about thirty feet in diameter and three feet deep. The water, a translucent brown from the mixed in dirt and minerals, was heated to just above body temperature, akin to a hot but not scalding shower. Steam was rising from the whole pool, making the air wet and warm. We walked gingerly down a staircase like structure made of rocks and into the pool and lounged around contentedly for around half an hour. After touring Wai-O-Tapu, I barely registered the light sulfur smell of the stream. It was truly sublime. We eventually pulled ourselves out of the water as we grew too hungry and too prune-y to stay.
We drove the last bit to Rotorua, the town we are staying in tonight. Once there, we tried to eat at an Italian pizza place, but found it closing just as we arrived. Undeterred, we quickly found a nearby brewpub and sat down to eat. I ordered a brunch-all-day pizza, topped with traditional omelette ingredients. Though the crust was a bit thin for my liking, the sauce, cheese, and toppings were all excellent. Additionally, the portion size was just right – I was hungry for all of it, but full by the end.
We tried to go to a few other destinations we had on our list, but found them all closed by the time we got there. Why does everything seem to close by 5:00 in New Zealand? Regardless, we managed to walk around a redwood forest for a brief twenty minutes before it got dark enough to force us back to the car. We then drove to our hostel and checked in, caught up on the internet happenings for the day, and ate dinner in the kitchen. I’m somehow tired despite having done relatively little today, so that’s all for now. One more day in New Zealand, and then off to Thailand!