Thursday, March 30, 2017

NZ/Aus Day 12: Are We There Yet?

With our longest driving day yet ahead of us, we hit the road as soon as we could in the morning. Our main reason for coming to New Zealand was to see the landscapes, so although anxious to get to our destinations, we were enjoying the drives all the same.

Today would take us from the pastures and vineyards of Martinborough through some very moody hills (thanks to the rainy skies above) to our lunch destination of Napier.

Napier is unique for its art-deco style, having been rebuilt after an earthquake in the 20's. The rain lifted enough for us to enjoy walking along the waterfront and through a quaint pedestrain street before stopping to get lunch. A highlight for Erin was finding an allergen-free bakery, Hapi, where she stocked up on desserts for the days ahead.

Feeling slightly guilty about putting Baby back in the car seat, we forged onwards through a mountainous stretch with way too many construction zones. We found a roadside pull-out to nurse at with views of the forest below, then continued on. It was a relief when we saw Lake Taupo as we knew we were getting close, but we were much later than expected, so we couldn't afford a stop there as well. With aching backs and a cranky companion, we entered Rotorua.

At one of our rest stops
Rotorua is an important Maori cultural centre. It's situated on a large lake and in the heart of a rich geothermal region. Everywhere we turned there seemed to be steam rising off a creekbed or spouting out from a storm drain. The sulphur smell overtook us making it much more difficult to tell if someone in the backseat was in need of a change.

We passed a lodge that seemed engulfed in thick smoke and enviously read the sign that it housed its own hot springs pools, then let out exasperated sighs as Google seemed to lose our destination. After going around in circles and down some questionable side streets, we finally realized that that lodge WAS our destination (and also the cheapest option in town, thank you Craig)!

Though rundown in appearance, the sulphur pool alongside the river made up for what the room lacked. We quickly unpacked and made a surprisingly good meal using what the miniscule "kitchenette" provided.

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