We journeyed a little farther afield today, to Rotorua, about an hour’s drive south from our B&B. On the way we stopped where there was a congregation of parked cars, thinking it must be a great spot, and it was! Okere Falls Track, a trail along a string of waterfalls on the Kaituna river, we learned is New Zealand’s premier white water rafting destination. One falls along the river, Tutea falls, is the highest commercially rafted falls in the world at 7 meters (22 ft. 11 in.)!
We hiked the track, about 5 miles total through a wonderful canopy of tree ferns along the river, catching glimpses of the river below us.
We returned on the ridge track, up and down, in more sun as we had views over the forest to the hillsides beyond, dotted with sheep. In the parking lot we saw one more place of interest, the start for the zipline tours! We headed over and went down the steep stairway to see the river rushing by, on it’s way to flow down the chute of Tutea Falls! We also saw some kayakers zooming by!
We continued our trip around the east edge of Lake Rotorua, into the town of Rotorua on the south shore of the lake. The smell of sulphur hot springs was in the air! We headed to Government Gardens and the viewpoint at Motutara Point overlooking the lake. It was quiet and fairly empty at the parking area. There is a paddlewheel boat drydocked at the point with a for sale sign on it. I googled it and found out the “Lakeland Queen has been indefinitely closed since October 2021 with the boat dry-docked at Sulphur Point. It’s not known when or if it will operate again.” Covid must have killed it. What a shame, a click on the boat’s name above gives a description of the cruise with lovely pictures.
We drove the short way back to Government Gardens and walked around. The impressive building at the center of the gardens is unfortunately closed. It housed the Rotorua Museum until an earthquake in 2016 forced it’s closure. A plan is now in place to reinforce the structure and eventually reopen it.
There is a trail behind the building along Lake Rotorua’s geothermal section. There is lots of construction going on to upgrade the trail and the sections we could visit had such a strong vapor that my eyes were stinging and watering, as if I had chopped onions, although the smell was not offensive.We moved on to Kuirau Park nearby to walk around the geothermal areas, practically in the middle of town! They have a lovely ‘fragrance garden’, probably to try to counteract the sulphur smell from the bubbling fumaroles, hot springs, mud pots, etc. in the park!
At the north end of the park is Kuirau Lake, a large steaming bubbling lake.
They even have an area with two small concrete shallow pools with benches around them for communal foot soaking! We took advantage, with a dozen or so fellow foot soakers from all over the world from the accents we heard! We headed home after a wonderful day for dinner and another fabulous sunset!Later in the evening we heard distant explosions and looked out to see fireworks exploding down below us, probably from Maketu Beach. We could also see some fireworks way out towards Tauranga to the northwest! We heard and saw some fireworks last night too. What was going on? Google it! November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, a celebration of the arrest (and subsequent death by hanging, then being drawn and quartered!) of Guy Fawkes, a conspirator in the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of Nov. 5, 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament to end the persecution of Catholics in Protestant England! His arrest foiled the plot and has become a reason to celebrate throughout the English colonies. An obviously abandoned celebration in the American colonies after the Revolution!