After spending day 2 visiting the Hobbiton movie set, it was time for something a little more natural.
The weather was taking a turn for the worse as I set off and having never ridden a motorcycle with a full windscreen before, it was quite a nice contrast to the usual experience of having rain pound you in the chest and whipping at your knees. Luckily, 20 minutes or so into the ride the sun started to peak through the clouds and the temperature finally picked up enough to warm some life back into my fingers.
I pulled up at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and headed straight for Lady Knox Geyser, a smaller attraction located about 3 mins away from the main visitor centre. Unfortunately I didn’t get the memo about the 10:15 kick-off and having sunk a few beers the night before, rolled into the car park at around 11am, missing the initial show where the park attendants trigger the geyser into eruption. Still caught some steam though… Look at that sweet steam!
Neither myself or Sophie are very fond of being in front of the camera, but obligatory holiday photos are a must sometimes.
After the initial time keeping issue, we headed over to the main site where the visual impact of the terrain would have been breathtaking, if the gassy smells hadn’t already stopped you breathing on the way in. The biggest surprise was how in such a short walk around the area, the rock colours and textures changed completely and the acidic, vibrant colours that could be seen through the waters became more potent and saturated the further along you went.
Within the first 20 metres you arrive at a small pit with a bubbling pool of what looked like boiling hot mud. I was already getting a sense of what to expect the next day at the Tongariro Crossing as the dark, rocky visuals were beginning to look a lot like the textures in the Mordor scenes of ‘The Return of the King’.
Things brightened up quite quickly as you arrive at a small lake. The water was warm (I assume, I wasn’t about to touch it) and different sections had various colours of festering ooze, bubbling on the surface.
This was my favourite part. A clearly volcanic looking area where the waters edge meets land via a ledge of bright orange.
After getting quite enough crazy into us for one day, it was time to head to Taupo for an afternoon on the water. As usual, time was quickly sneaking away so I had to give it some to get to our boat tour on time.
Cue GoPro fluke shot of me leaving Rotorua…
I’ve mentioned it before, but sitting behind the screen on a long ride is bliss. It’s a controversial subject, but I’m guilty of listening to music whilst riding and the screen cuts the wind noise down but 75% making the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. I recently rode my HD Forty-Eight from Sydney to Melbourne and back in a week, and went through 3 pairs of noise cancelling headphones on that trip simply trying to cut down wind noise and not have to turn the music up to an ear ringing ’11’. Changing out the standard visor on my Bell Bullitt to a ‘bubble’ makes a lot of difference too as it seems to push the wind around your head a little more.
Arriving at Taupo, I was surprised at how vast the lake was. Google Maps really doesn’t do it any justice and I purposefully didn’t look at any photographs of it beforehand. I tend to do that a lot when I visit places as too much research can ruin the initial impact.
The highlight of the boat tour was a stop off at a beautiful Maori mural, 10 metre high carvings on the side of a flat piece of rock, tucked away Mine Bay and only accessible by water. The carvings may look like the remains of an ancient Maori village but were in fact created in the late 70s by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell as a gift to Taupo.
Here’s a closer look so you can really see the detail.
Even the rocks along side were highly decorated.
Towards the end of the sight seeing, the captain opened up the deck and allowed anyone that fancied a dip to jump off the side for a few minutes, I thought it would be rude not to…
Check back soon for the final post, Part 4 where I walk the 20km Tongariro Crossing (the set of Mordor) and take a closer look at the Road King.
If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, take a look at those or follow us on Facebook for all future updates.
If you’ve been to any of the locations in this series, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.