Monday, January 30, 2017

Mount Ruapehu

Today we drove down to Mount Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park.  We wanted to take the kids on their first "hike" (I really should call it a "tramp" as that's how it's referred to here) in NZ.  We've done lots of walking but nothing too strenuous.  The kids did great!  It was only 1hour and 20 minutes but we climbed 400 meters.  The reward (except for me and one of the kids as I'm pretty terrified of heights) at the end as a chairlift ride all the way down.

A view of Lake Taupo from the south end on our drive there.

Mt. Ruapehu.  These beautiful grasses are all over - love the long tufts!

What a barren landscape!  The first bit was on a track...

Then it got really rocky and we were clambering over boulders.  The kids just loved it though!  I wasn't too optimistic of things going really well (aka complaining) for a couple of them but they loved this.

Where we came from...

And up we went...

Little bits of life...

Lava rock...

This piece looks like it's going to fall...

Our view from 3/4 of the way up...

And from the top...

Mt. Doom's tip was hidden...

We could have hiked a little further for more 360 views but we didn't want to push our luck - ha!

Here's some info from Wikipedia: "Mount Ruapehu is an active stratovolcano at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand."

Glad I didn't think too hard about that one as we were up there.  The kids and I will have to look up exactly what that means tomorrow.  We have to do some school work ;)

Thermal Pools, Huka Falls, Bungee Jumping, and Lake Taupo

On Saturday we headed towards Taupo to check out a few of the attractions in the area.
(pictures all from Tessa's camera today)

First stop: Some thermal pools from a hot water stream going into the Waikato river.  The water falling is very hot so this pool felt as hot as or even hotter than a hot tub.

As the water mixes with the river you feel little flows of warm and cold mixed.

Next, we went to the Huka Falls.  So much water!  It doesn't fall far but so much water is rushing through a pretty narrow channel here.  There's enough water going over to fill 5 Olympic swimming pools in just 1 minute!

We saw a sign for bungee jumping and a couple of the kids wanted to go watch.  So freaky!  But we got treated to gorgeous views of the river!

We ended the day at Lake Taupo for a swim and we met the notorious sandfly.  Annoying little flies biting that end up being way itchier than a mosquito and a few of us have them all over our feet and ankles.

 Tessa tried out her camera underwater - pretty neat!

And did you know they have black swans here?  Looks so strange to us!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

On the road to Mangakino

On Friday we left the biggest city in New Zealand for one of it's tiniest towns (if you can even call it that).  We're staying a holiday home backing onto a golf course and Lake Maraetei, one of 7 or 8 hydro lakes on the Waikato River.

Fun fact: These dams produce 15% of New Zealands hydro

A few pictures from our drive:
There are supposed to be so many sheep in NZ but so far I think we've seen way more cows!

Our first view of Mt. Reapehu and Mt. Ngauruhoe (aka Mt. Doom) in the distance - can you make it out?

Beautiful rolling hills

We found Hobbiton!  Or close to it anyway.  The info centre in Matamata looked pretty good to us and it was free - we may not have to go to Hobbiton anymore ;)

A gift from our Auckland neighbour - apple cucumbers.  Yum!
We ended the day with a fire in the outside fireplace...

And woke up the next morning to enjoy my morning coffee with this view!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Moving on...

We've enjoyed our last few days here on Bleakhouse Road and are excited to be moving on a little ways south to Mangakino, which is a tiny little town where we can explore both Rotorua and Lake Taupo areas.

The last few days in pictures...

A walk nearby in Mangemangeroa Park.  Lots of beautiful native trees here and birds singing.

Yesterday we went to Ambury Park - a working farm.  The kids had fun (trying to) herd sheep :)

I think Lukas has a bit of sheep dog in him - although he needs some training.

Surrounded by ocean and on volcanic rock makes for a pretty neat landscape.

Mangrove trees grow in the salty silt.  Very interesting plants!

The volcanic rock is so porous and the land is super fertile and mineral rich from the volcanic ash.

When we first arrived I was surprised at the brown grass all over when it had been fairly rainy.  It's because the soil layer is so thin on top of the volcanic rock so it dries out really fast.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Devonport, Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, and North Head Historic Reserve

Finally managed to steal the computer away from Conrad :p

On Saturday we drove to Devonport where we peeked in the shops, spending some time in the used book store and a quilt shop!  Fun for us - not as much for the kids - haha!
I found a couple NZ prints.  The bird fabric has a Tui bird on it - we hear this bird as we wake up every morning.
Best plaque ever!
From there we went to the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum.  A great little museum with miniatures of the ships from WWI and WWII.  The kids enjoyed that much more!

We also explored the tunnels and battery on North Head that were built starting in 1885 in response to fears of a Russian attack.  Here's a great fact sheet if you're interested: North Head fact sheet.

Pretty sure the peninsula extending the furthest is Musik Point where we were standing a few days earlier.  

View of Auckland downtown.  
A good place for a photo op; just not in the right mood.  So separate groups it is :)

We've seen this a few times.  It's called a Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily :)