Wellington lived up to its nickname of the Windy City. Whilst the campsite we used just out of town was well sheltered (but as a DOC and v low cost, was inhabited with a bunch of German lads drunkenly, loudly and increasingly desperately trying to pull some traveller girls camped there too until 0230hrs…), Wellington requires you to lean in to the wind.
We met up with the Belgium family at the wonderful Otaga Museum and spent the whole day there, wandering around the halls. As it was a school day, the crowds were light and we had no queues to stand in to get in to the museum’s major exhibit on Gallipoli. Yet again Sir Peter Jackson had got involved and the exhibit was terrific. It took a couple of hours just to go around it and I could have happily gone around again, there being so much information on offer.
Saying our goodbyes again and a promise to try and meet up again at Coremandel, we did a big jump N towards Rotarua, famous for its hot pools and geysers.
We had been given the details of a thermal river, about 30km S of Rotarua that you could go and soak in by the Ranger at the Wellington Campsite and we headed for that. Three or four miles down a dirt track took us to a small car park and a track down to the smoking stream. We visited a couple of the pools and loved the heat. We thought the water must have been around the 40C mark. We shared the top pool with a bunch of Korean ladies, gabbering away, everyone talking at once and saved one’s phone after she fell in to everyone’s amusement, trying to get that perfect shot of the rest. A good humoured lot!
The next morning, much to the kids delight, we surprised them by heading off the main road and taking them to a “Go Ape” tree runners centre. Technically, Hannah was allowed only to do the first two of the six levels because of her height but the staff was happy for her to try the harder stuff as long as Dad went too. I thought it a fair cop. The courses started small, gradually getting longer, more complex and higher off the ground. Needless to say, she did us proud, nervelessly throwing herself over the courses and the staff were a little surprised to hear her screaming her way down the big death slide (called “flying foxes” in NZ – no idea why) with a ecstatic smile at the end of level four! Eleanor and I completed level five but we ran out of time to complete last level.
We had a timetable to keep with a dry Hobbiton and with 60km to get there and a little over an hour to get there, we needed to move – fast!