Up early and on the road by 8ish, we got to Wai-o-tapu in time to get tickets and make our way over to see the Lady Knox geyser presentation (and actual geyser) at 10:15. If left alone, it would go off on its own every day or two, but by pouring something soap-like in, they break the surface tension and the geyser erupts on a visitor-friendly schedule. The story goes that some nearby prisoners discovered this effect by accident when attempting to wash their clothes in what they apparently thought was just a normal hot spring.
We planned to stick around to see how long the geyser would last, but when it was still going about 40 minutes later, we decided to mosey on. We wandered around the rest of the park and saw, smelled, and heard lots of evidence of geothermal activity.
We drove over to Kerosene Creek (a hot river!) where we sat on the banks and enjoyed a free hot foot bath for awhile.
Then, into the town of Rotorua, where we stopped at the “i-Site” to book tickets for an evening Maori cultural event, and had a late lunch at a nearby cafe. Kiwi’s fish sandwich was nearly as tall as she was!
It was hot in the cafe, so after we left, we spent the rest of the afternoon seeking shade and cool breezes, and just relaxing in town. We had wanted to find a spot near the lake, but there were a lot of geese and not enough shade, there, so we wound up near the government building, where we found a good spot to lie on the grass and stare up at the sky for awhile.
The evening show was entertaining, and it was great to hear Kiwi’s reactions (“we learned these songs in school!” / “this is really quite typical…” etc). Dinner was a buffet that included “hangi” style roast meat, as well as a huge variety of other dishes. The smoked eel and shrimp salad were my favorites. We were serenaded while we ate, and they sang songs from several visitors’ countries.
After dinner, we went down to another geothermal area (the geyser here did not perform for us on schedule, but we did get hot chocolate and heated seats).
Then, a twisty and dark drive back to Tauranga. I kept up with the car in front of us, so I could use their lights to see around the corners a bit.
Back at Kiwi’s mum’s place, I ate the New Zealand trifecta dessert: trifle, pavlova, and hokey pokey ice cream. Diabetes never tasted so good.