Return to Rotorua
Return to Rotorua
We awoke to the sound of Tui calling to eachother across the campsite and managed to stow an almost dry tent. The timing was perfect, as we sat in the empty communal kitchen munching toast the heavens opened once again but all our gear was now inside our little Tui.
Flying low across numerous hill ranges including Ahimanawa and Waipunga and through little towns and villages such as Te Haroto, Tarawera, Pohukura and Rangitaiki, all easier to type than say, we were in the company of many double loggers and camper vans travelling for work and play along State Highway 5.
Logging was big business here and the scraped hillsides were in places re-planted and I wondered if the more mature re-growth areas were natural or part of some commercial plan or maybe even an attempt to restore native forest, who knows.
Tui skipped sideways across her half, or so it felt, as the winds buffeted her in our descent to Lake Taupo. Always a windy lake from what we’ve seen both now and on our previous visit with our family last April during Cyclone Cook’s reign.
The contours of the hills were replaced with flat plains and intensive dairy farms. Hundreds of cows standing shoulder to shoulder on shadeless paddocks with hardly enough room to lower their heads and graze. That’s all changing though gradually. As Rob said if they have a few trees where they are grazing cows and sheep will choose the shade to rest in away from the sun so how uncomfortable they must be when there is no shade. To these ‘farmers’ cows are industrial objects.
One estate had literally ‘set aside’ a tiny area in each field alongside the fence and popped a handful of trees in it. Was this some new requirement we wondered to which they were paying lip service or was it just decorative, certainly planted tight up to the fence the trees were of no use to the animals.
Then we were leaving the flat plains and smaller farms and fields with trees and streams spread randomly over the lightly grazed land farmed by families still living in the farmhouses predominated the area.
It was lunchtime and The Pig and Whistle provided us with very generous portions of fish, chips and salad and a welcome pint. You would never have known it was a pub except for the Green Canopy near the entrance with the familiar ‘English’ pub name written on it. Built with 37 tons of reinforcing steel inside 18 inch concrete walls faced with red brick this purpose built police station was clearly designed to have strength to match its purpose as a police station, except the designers forget to draw in any cells! Opened in 1940 the features include some nice Maori and art deco touches and it is, even today, an impressive construct. It has been a pub for 25 years, almost as long as it was a cop shop.
Well-nourished we went off to explore Rotorua for the first time. When we were here before we camped at Cosy Cottage Holiday Camp on warm ground from the subterranean thermal activity and engrossed ourselves in Maori culture for the night at the Mitai Experience but we never went into the town.
The rain was holding off so we wandered the pretty lakeshore with its mudpools and sulphur aroma giving way to cooler water and birdlife. Mokoia Island is now a bird sanctuary and has a delightful legend I will tell you another time. It lay a few miles into the Lake, a gently sloping, almost round forested mound just beckoning us for a visit, another time maybe. We were keen to find lodgings for the night as the weather was threatening to be stormy still.
On our way back to the centre and the i-Site we passed a magnificent building with vertical and horizontal brown painted Tudor style ‘beams’ on the cream walls. It was barricaded and although it looked in perfect condition it had been deemed to not reach earthquake standards and the Rotorua Museum had been closed for two years. The staff at the i-Site had no idea what was happening or where the exhibits were and there seemed to be no alternative location. For such a prominent area as this, with its long and fascinating history to be without a museum to tell its story seemed very strange to us.
We queued at the very popular i-Site to book a Duck Tour onto three of the eighteen lakes the next day at 2.00pm and then went to settle into our cabin at the town centre Top 10. The last time we were here, at Cosy Cottage, Rob and I languished in one of two hot water pools set in an enclosed area with a roof and lots of tropical plants but here as the pools were outside and with the air quite chilly we gave them a miss.