Spent most of the morning in the dining area at the holiday park, trying to load journal and photos. It was very slow going. The morning was gray, but not rainy, and finally a little sun came through.
We started off for our first hike, a short one to some mounds which are claimed to be left by a “debris avalanche” from one of the volcanoes a long time ago. Maybeso. The lookout at the end is supposed to give a view of one or more of the volcanic peaks, but the tops remained shrouded in clouds.
Our next trail was slightly longer, to Tawhei Falls (pronounced ta-FAY). The water falls over a lava cliff. Very nice, very peaceful. We left in harmony with the universe. ☺
Then we went back to the visitor center. They had an exhibit of a kiwi and a kiwi egg. Note the relative sizes. Apparently the mama can’t even eat for the last few days before she lays it. Then the male gets to sit on it until it hatches. (Poor male, left holding the bag again. ☺ The size of the egg says to me that the kiwi was once a much bigger creature – which I think is true – and that the adult shrank, maybe because of food scarcity, but the egg didn’t. L)
As explained on this sign, the Maori held most property in common, and did not have individual land rights. The local Maori chief was worried that the 3 volcanoes, which had great spiritual significance to the Maori, would be broken up into private lots. So he donated the 3 mountains to the NZ government in the late 1800s, and they became the basis of the first national park in NZ, and the 4th in the world. Amazing prescience.
After the visitor center, we hit the road for Taupo, while I researched where the heck we were going. I settled on the Taupo DeBretts Holiday Park, which had hot pools, and seemed to be about the same otherwise as the others in the area. Were we surprised when we got here that there was a Hilton here! But there is also a holiday park, which seems very nice. We even have a view!
After securing a place for the night, we drove to the Craters of the Moon. This is a very non-commercialized, non-profit operation. They charge $8 a person to follow a well-maintained trail around a thermal area with fumaroles, craters, and mud craters. Lots of steam, and very impressive. If you haven’t seen a geo-thermal area and you get a chance, be sure to take it!
While we were there, a thunderstorm started up to our east, on the other side of a ridge. It didn’t seem to be moving toward us, but we could hear the thunder loudly, and there was no cover to be had! But we finished the trail with no problem, and headed back to the park. This evening we will take a dip in the hot pools (eat your hearts out Clintonites) and finish uploading journal and photos.