I am feeling a bit guilty today waiting for Sadie to get home from school. She is struggling with some sort of virus right now–something that makes her feel tired and has given her a rash, but no fever and nothing to really keep her home from school. I found out that we don’t really have health insurance while we are out here. Well, we have our US insurance, but there is a large deductible to be met so I hemmed and hawed about taking her in. I finally decided I better rule out strep, and we did, but now I am just a bit poorer and still have a slightly sick kid who I sent off to school after the doctor’s appointment–hence the feeling guilty feeling.
This is a good time to mention how great the kids have been on this journey. While they haven’t really been thanking us for taking them on an amazing, extended vacation to a warm spot during a cold NY winter, they also haven’t complained too much. I think we have done some really fun things, but we didn’t hit any amusement parks and we don’t really try to cater the vacation to them==so all in all it has been a success so far.
After Hobbiton we drove to the town of Rotorua. Rotorua is known for it’s thermals springs (think hot and smelly). Some things we read called it RotoVegas because of how touristy and crowded it can be, but we honestly found it pretty empty and quaint–not words I would use to describe Vegas. For instance check out this little hike along a spring that we found.
It also had a ton of CA coastal redwoods–they were only a century old, but already 55 m tall.
At the end of the hike there was a 50ft deep spring. The water was ice cold, but we did see some kids jumping in.
Driving around town at sunset.
About 20 minutes away was the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park.
We spent about 2 hours hiking around on the self-guided trail with the strong sulphur smell, but crazy beautiful and strange.
Sometimes the smoke and steam made it so that you couldn’t see anything.
We had our next campground practically to ourselves. It would have been perfect except for the abundance of wasps. We didn’t get stung, but they were everywhere. This was also the only campsite where we were able to have a fire.
The basic facilities .
There was a great hike right from the campground.
We went right from our campsite off to Tongariro National Park. We had been prepping the kids since Syracuse about the hike we were going to do here–an all day 20 km trek on a volcano. Before that hike we did a “leg stretcher” on a 6km hike to Taranaki Falls.
Views of the volcano (also known as Mt. Doom).
We were supposed to camp that night, but we decided to upgrade to a cabin because it was quite cold at night and we didn’t really have the best gear for it. I was happy we upgraded the next morning when we had to get up at 4:30 to get ready for our ride to the trailhead.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is supposedly the best and most popular day hike in all of New Zealand. There have been recent eruptions so there were lots of warnings about, but for our hike the volcano seemed calm.
There was awesome cloud cover that slowly rolled in.
The kids were in a pretty good mood for having woken up so early. We did pack candy bars and they seemed to want to be full speed ahead.
Much of the first part of the trail is very easy with boardwalks and stairs.
Always looming the volcano.
This was where the trail got a little tricky. There was lots of hard uphill parts, but they were stairs and the trail was easily marked. Here you just had to scramble up loose rocks. And with the with blowing my hair around I couldn’t see a thing.
One of the Emerald Lakes.
This was the scariest part of the trail for me–heading down this trail. I am having trouble uploading my video–but there was a very steep drop off on both sides and the rocks were very loose.
The active steam vents on the north side.
The kids keep a quick pace. I wonder if all of the warning signs kept them moving along?
with the big view. J took this photo. I must have been too cozy to get up.