Hot springs and geysers, Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Rotorua

New Zealand has a long history of active volcanoes, hot springs, hot mud pools and geysers. The traditional Maori experience of the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village at Rotarua, on New Zealands north island, allowed us to get up close to the hot springs, and mud pools and to view the Pōhutu geyser from a short distance. The current guides are descendants of the original Maori guides, who formed the tourism industry in this area. The Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people live in the village and were friendly and welcoming and they allowed us to visit their valley, and appreciate a Marae, World War 11 memorial arch, their sacred burial grounds and historic churches

We watched the villagers cook their hangi meals in in-ground steam boxes with green vegetables taking mere seconds to cook, the heat of the steam is so intense. The meat was so tender it just melted in your mouth and corn cobs were cooked in thirty seconds.

The villagers use the geothermal resources to cook, heat their homes and bathe in the refreshing therapeutic waters

Swimming pools, spas and solarium

Spoilt for choice with an outdoor swimming and spas, an indoor pool, again with spas and a glassed in solarium with numerous spas, and drinks and coffee available there was no reason to be stressed. All areas had numerous lounge chairs, so whether you were a cold frog and needed to be sheltered, or you needed to brush up on your suntan with a good book, or catch up with friends, it was a beautiful area to spend a day.

Whakarewarewa Maori Living Village Tauranga NZ, Traditional Dances

We were given a warm welcome to the village, with a group lunch and after viewing the hot springs we were entertained with the dancing and with a short description of the stories and traditions behind each one, we grew to understand the culture and history of these proud New Zealand people.

The group leader relaying the history of her people, told us the story of the lovers who were on separate islands. The woman swam to the the island where her man was and they are the original leaders of the Whakarewarewa people.

In another story, she told us how the early occupants of the area, originally lived on the coast, the land was very fertile, but neighbouring tribes were always raiding, rampaging, raping and killing. So the tribal king sent a group of explorers up the river and they found beautiful lakes and fertile land, Lake Rotoraua and Lake Rotoiti. The whole tribe then packed up and moved, in their huge canoes up the river as far as they could go and then they carried their canoes and goods up mountains until they reached “the promised land”.

These stories were relayed in their dancing and singing.

Lake Rotoiti cruise

We cruised for about an hour on the Rotoiti Explorer, the scenery was magnificent, we pulled into little sandy beaches and found a hot spring trickling into the lake and sailed past luxury homes. We were served morning tea and found, hidden in reeds a black swan sitting on her nest. This would have to be the highlight of the day.

The lake also highlights Okere Falls and I would love to have more time to visit the falls and be around the lake at sunset or sunrise for magnificent lighting to reflect on the lake. However, it wasn’t to be and I have to be satisfied with our little experience that we enjoyed.

Lady Norwood Begonia House, Botanic Gardens, Wellington NZ

A magnificent old Victorian glass house creates the perfect environment for these stunning examples of begonias and delicate plants.

Then while having lunch the table next to us is invaded by disgusting sparrows, cleaning up the crumbs left by the previous diners.

Summer Fun in the Snowy Mountains

Summer is coming to an end. It is time to reminisce what we will miss during the cool months ahead, when the Snowy lives up to its name and turns from blue skies and sunny days to the snow and cold of the Snowy Mountains.

The Snowy Mountains are just as exciting in the summer as when they are bathed in white snow of winter. Waterskiing and boarding, fishing, camping, on the lakes, rivers and streams of this beautiful area of Australia

Botanic Gardens Wellington

Taking a leisurely stroll along the winding paths that took us through the Botanic Gardens, a garden of national significance we found, native forests, conifers, plant collections and seasonal plant displays. We stopped at the Lady Norwood Rose Garden for lunch and delighted in the Victorian style glass-house, the Begonia House.

Access to the top of the hill and the Botanic Gardens is via the Cable Car which runs between Lambton Quay, the main streeet, and Kelburn. The ride takes approximately 10 minutes and on the way up, there is a spectacular view of the city and beautiful homes of the surrounding suburbs. The walk is an easy downhill pleasure of sights, smells, inspiration and wonder and another beautiful day trip on our Royal Caribbean, Ovation of the Seas, New Zealand cruise

Windy Wellington NZ

In our pre-departure briefings, we were warned about “windy Wellington”. Usually “Murphys Law” applies to us to dampen our spirits, however, this time, Wellington may have been overcast and threatening, but it was calm and not a breath of wind in sight.

The shuttle buses were pulling up as we disembarked, to take us from the docks area into the city. We got off at the first stop, which was outside the most magnificent old building on the edge of the CBD.

Walking into the city we found a coffee and Wellington’s fame for the “Coffee Capital” lived up to its reputation.

Wellington’s main drag wasn’t very long and and after a short walk, we found the cable car that takes passengers up the hill to a lovely cafe, Planetarium, Cable Car Museum and Botanic Gardens and views overlooking Wellington and the harbour beyond.

Taking a leisurely stroll along the winding paths that took us through the Botanic Gardens, a garden of national significance we found, native forests, conifers, plant collections and seasonal plant displays. We stopped at the Lady Norwood Rose Garden for lunch and delighted in the Victorian style glass-house, the Begonia House.

At the lower edge of the Botanic Gardens is a colonial cemetery and if you are interested in history, gravestones and the stories of families of the early settlement of Wellington, then a stroll through the cemetery is worth the effort.

Crossing the main freeway we are walking past New Zealand Parliament buildings and the “beehive” is a very unusual exhibition of architecture in stark contrast to the original Parliament buildings.

Taking a shuttle bus, we wanted to visit the Wellington Te Papa Museum. We spent about 60 minutes in the Gallipoli: the scale of War exhibition. Being a most unusual presentation, with eight ordinary, local heroes being portrayed, through their stories and word and also giant sized sculptures, which took 24,000 hours to create.

Another beautiful day trip on our Royal Caribbean, Ovation of the Seas, New Zealand cruise

Milford Sound, Waterfalls

Following 1.6 metres of rainfall in three days, the waterfalls of Milford Sound were spectacular. On day three of our New Zealand cruise, we sailed into the Sound, aboard the Royal Caribbean luxury liner, Ovation of the Seas and were met by a couple of other ships. Probably to pickup and drop off passengers and stayed stationery for a couple of hours.

The waterfalls were in abundance on both sides of the sheer cliffs of the three sounds, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound. Our Captain sailed quite close to Bowen Falls, where the water was pounding down the cliff face in a torrent. He turned the ship around so that both sides got a spectacular view.