09.02.2008 20 °C
One final early start for me on this stunning coastline before the long drive down to Rotorua.
We picked up a straggler from the hostel by the name of Sebastian, a to the point German lad who certainly didn't beat around the bush......honesty is a good thing I guess though! I think he felt really bad though when we got onto the topic of Guernsey and, inevitably, the German occupation!!
The drive was incredible, even more twisty than the initial drive into the region and poor old Matt (the car) was struggling under the full load on even the slightest incline, while refusing to slow down on the steep drops!
We dropped Seb off at Tauranga, Coromandel's principle port, and headed on down to Rotorua. The landscape suddenly changed as we left Coromandel, into a much lower but confused region of hillocks when compared to the grandeur and scale of what we had left behind.
The hostel, Treks, is really nice. Very clean, modern and well thought out with plenty of Kitchen space. The town itself, to me, is a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps it's the weather but it has a really weird feel to it.
We visited the Mauri village at Whakarewarera (Wh is pronounced Th so say that even before a few beers!) and I just didn't feel comfortable. It felt as if we were just nosy tourists watching how these people are “supposed” to live. I couldn't help thinking it may be a bit of an act for the tourists and felt we'd been a bit jaded in what we expected to see! Don't get me wrong, the area they live in and the way they have made uses for all the thermal activity and regard them as places of worship is amazing but I'd have found more interest and felt more informed from a standard museum set-up......I guess the lure of seeing a geyser (Pohutu) was just too much though!
After the thermal activity we drove to Lake Tarawera, scene of a huge, huge volcanic eruption not even 130 years ago. What was a popular tourist venue for many early world travellers looking to bathe in Pink and White Terraces (multi-levelled hot silica pools) were totally destroyed as Mt Tarawera blew its top. It was a beautiful setting now though, with thick forest everywhere and, the now dormant, Mt Tarawera flanking its sides. Sadly the trip was called off a little short as it seems Sarah tastes really good to sand flies! The poor bugger is bitten to pieces!
A slap up meal cheered here up no end though once we got back to hostel and were hoping the weather clears up a little for tomorrows trip down to Taupo.