We agreed the previous night to sleep in some and we took full advantage of it. The gang didn’t end up out the door until 9:30 a.m. after a morning full of breakfast, showers, and lunch preparations. Oh yeah, and we had to decide what we were doing. Some thought had been put in the night before, but nothing was solidified until this morning.
The game plan included a hike, visiting Huka Falls, seeing geysers and we had a full day to do it. We began the day at Spa Thermal Park, taking in the beautiful crystal clear green-blue water of the Waikato River as we made our way towards Huka Falls. To kick off the hike we took advantage of the extra photographers and did some good simultaneous handstanding (Phil later decreed that Lynn still won). The walk to the falls was intended to be an hour long, but may have turned out a bit longer thanks to our newcomers. The surrounding ferns, wildlife, and beautiful water are apparently old news to us. While we were busy getting our walk on, the rest of the gang were taking in the environment and accurately naming the various flora and fauna. What we call the machine gun bird, they call a “Tui” and what we call purple bells, they call “foxglove.” We are wary of using these names since they do not accurately portray the species, but we may play along.
We reached the falls and immediately deemed it more rapids-like than falls-like from standing on the overlook bridge, though nonetheless impressive. Further down we realized that we were a bit too quick with our judgement and found the real falls. While it may not be the tallest falls, the volume of water flowing through it was quite substantial. So much so that they have downstream boat rides set up to get you up close and personal with the rushing water. One such boat was a seat-gripping jet boat which initially barreled into the falls area going quite quickly and finishing with a sharp 360 spin. Hmmm, maybe we would need to get in on that action.
When we’d had enough of the falls and the groups of people doing their best model poses, we took the same route back to Spa Thermal Park. Before completing the route, we checked out the thermal pools that lead into the river to see just how hot they were. Indeed, very hot, though people seemed to be enjoying it just fine in their bathing gear. None of us had the supplies to partake, so we settled for eating our picnic lunch under a nearby tree.
Now it was time for some geysers! Taking a short 30 minute ride north we arrived at Orekei Korako Geothermal Park where we intended to see some. We took a quick 5 minute boat ride across the Bay of Plenty where we were wholly impressed by the driver’s boat maneuvers before being deposited on shore. And off we went, over silica terraces, past inactive geysers, up lookouts, all the way crossing our fingers for a really good burst. Despite a good 10 minutes of staring at a fairly active field of bubbling water pools and doing our best Fantasia impressions, we were unable to get a geyser to go off for us. That’s OK though because we discovered mud pools, very active puddles of mud that made plopping sounds as the bubbles burst. It was enough to satisfy.
By this point we’d done a fair amount of walking so we agreed to head back to the house for some rest. Lynn took a solid nap while the rest of the crew attempted to brainstorm for possible jobs for her, most of which seemed to be in cold, cold Minnesota.
Around 5 p.m. Doug and Lynn started cooking and served sun-dried tomato, feta, and walnut stuffed chicken, roasted potatoes (with Thai sweet chili sauce and sour cream), and broccoli. Then we decided another walk was in order, so we took a somewhat convoluted route through the neighborhood to the river which we then followed into town. From there we followed a main road towards Lake Taupo to take in the sunset (but not before getting some ice cream). We wrapped up the evening with a dusk walk back to the house, where Doug worked on making some meatballs for tomorrow’s meal while Lynn did some blog writing.
Daily Walking Mileage: 11.5
- Our title today comes from a Maori proverb that was developed after a chief nearly died trying to navigate Huka Falls.
- The orange color of the silica terraces is thanks to thermal algae that can grow in the boiling temperatures. We also saw birds and bugs enjoying the very warm water. We may have found super beings.
- To add to the excitement of the day, we had a fire in our home’s staircase. It seems one of the stair bulbs fell facing its wooden support beam, leading to some smoke. Thankfully, with the assistance of the whole group (minus Lynn), we were able to stop it in time from burning down the entire wooden house.