I took quite a few pictures on this trip - which have been uploaded to my scrapbook. I'll provide a commented subset as I go on here (as usual).
I tried taking some pictures out the car window on the drive, with mediocre success. First off, here's downtown Auckland, as we drove south:
Not too surprisingly for the distance, there's quite a variety of countryside. From European-looking pastureland
to odd formations
to lush forest
We eventually made it to Rotorua, and started to become acquainted with the smell. Rotorua is at least theoretically Maori-owned, and has been a tourist destination for over a century. A tourist destination for the mineral baths. It's on the edge of Lake Rotorua, which is a huge (10 mile diameter) active caldera, bringing forth a continuous supply of hydrogen sulfide laden water.
The whole town smells like rotten eggs.
Note that calderas aren't exactly rare in New Zealand. The lake Stuart&Frida's house fronts on, lake Pupuke, is an extinct (Or at least considerably less active) caldera.
In any case, we found our way to the Government Gardens, and the Rotorua Museum:
From there I could take a picture of the aforementioned Government Gardens:
One can see a couple of bowling greens, and a glimpse of the Blue Baths, which I apparently didn't photograph.
We thought of soaking there, but decided instead to head down the shoreline a short ways to the Polynesian Spa. We soaked in a very comfortable pool bordered and paved in stone, next to a waterfall, and overlooking the lake. It was extremely nice, if a little hard on my ongoing sunburn. I, of course, have no pictures of my own from the interior of the spa, though the main picture on this page is pretty close - we were a couple of pools over. I did, however, take a later picture of the place from the lakeshore:
Which leads to the next activity. After cleaning back up, we set out on part of a walking tour around the lake. Most of it was through some densish brush
It had some good views of the lake and the hills behind it
And at one point, a nice selection of active fumaroles
There are also several natural pools that
And here's the "coffee pot," that people would have themselves lowered into, despite it semi-permanently staining their skin:
That's the photographs for Monday. We certainly did do more - we checked ourselves into the Sudima Hotel, and after freshening up a bit took part in a reasonable simulation of a Maori Hangi, or feast.
After the show, we went back to our rooms. Stuart did some network connecting, and I, in my disconnected state, did a little more work on the KoC website design - as well as processing the day's photos.
Then sleep, followed by a new day. Tuesday, we only really did one touristy thing, which was go and visit Te Wairoa, a Maori village that was one of several destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1886. You'd not think it to look at the grounds
The Wairoa stream runs through the grounds
before becoming the Wairere falls
and then heading out into the Waitoharuru valley and, eventually, lake Tarawera.
And that's the pictures I've taken, which don't even do vague justice to the experience. The drive to and from the location goes through high mountains densely covered with forests that include many pongas, or tree ferns. As Stuart says, you half expect a dinosaur to wander up the road and start munching.
From there we drove back home. I might have taken more pictures out the window, except I wasn't thrilled about the quality of Monday's pictures, and quite frankly, I kept nodding out.
Tuesday evening was pretty uneventful, except for some more website progress, and photo processing.
Today (Which, remember, is Wednesday on this side of the dateline) has been relatively uneventful, if only because I've spent so much of it working on this particular post. The three of us had lunch at a nice Belgian bar, where I had yet another in a long line of good ginger beers.
Ginger beer is very popular over here, and there are a lot of varieties, all with some actual ginger kick. Kiwis apparently have an appreciation for other flavors than "cloyingly sweet."
I may grab my camera and head to the beach side of Milford - I haven't been there yet, and there's a fair amount of afternoon left.