A short-sleeve day in Rotarua 11/24/16
We spent a not-too-comfortable night at the Copthorne Hotel because we couldn't get our room cool enough, but we managed. Every place we stop has a different configuration for the heating/cooling, and obviously we didn't figure this one out. Or, perhaps the A/C didn't work at night. Up and atem anyway, and on our coach at the early hour of 8am to Waimangu Valley. Where's that, you ask? Southeast of Rotorua and one of it's premier attractions, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, was created by Mount Tarawera's 1886 eruption that destroyed the world-famous Pink and White Terraces. Look that up yourselves, it's interesting.
A misty morning getaway.
Our first destination was a boat trip on Lake Rotomahana to see various geothermal sites. The lake was like glass, and we were sure the early morning clouds would evaporate, but we needed our jackets on for the boat ride.
Black Swans, reintroduced from Australia in the 1860's, made for a lovely lake scene.
Nope, the trees aren't on fire.
Stinky steam rises from one of many geothermal vents seen along the 2,000 acre lake.
Albert, our intrepid guide, is a joy to have around.
Who expected to see an Australian Coot (Fulica atra australis) on the lake?
After our boat ride, we picked up a new guide, named Matt, for our long hike. He was full of information and show 'n tell for a young guy, really expert on many levels. And -- good news -- it was a downhill hike, where our coach awaited at the end for the ride back to the top!
Inferno Crater - hot, hot, hot!
Endemic New Zealand Tree Ferns rise to incredible heights. New Zealand has so many ferns of all sizes from wee to these tall guys, including the Silver Fern (or Ponga), named for it's silvery undersides (and the national symbol of NZ).
Gang's all here! What a great group!
White star-shaped Manuka tree blossoms are honey-makers for bees in springtime.
These trees are wide-spread on both North and South Islands (and the honey is expensive).
At Echo Crater. Stay on the path!
It was a terrific hike, albeit a little (whew!) warm.
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We transferred back into Rotorua for lunch at Princes Gate Hotel, and as soon as lunch was finished, we wandered across the road to explore the Government Gardens. That was fun, too! Their flower beds were outstanding. BTW, crossing roads here is a challenge. We're told every day to look both ways (like children), because the vehicles we think are coming this way, aren't ... they're going that way. So far, no one has been run over! (insert smiley face!)
At the gardens we spotted this magnificent "sun dog" -- and it even had a double!
Garrett, Linda, Ibby, Bernice and Jimmy in Government Gardens.
Look at that tree in the background.
The ladies playing croquet ... a throw-back in time for many of us Americans.
Wonderful old building at back.
Pukeko is the New Zealand name for the purple swamphen, a goofy-looking bird. It had big chicken feet. Didn't expect to see one, but here it is! After this, we hopped back on the bus (travelers, not tourists, you know) to Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, but that's for another post. It was a grand day, so far!