Dec 29


As planned, we came back to Rotorua to the cultural evening. The day off was great and we decided to spoil ourselves in the spa. Hot natural pools (up to 42 degrees celsius) were built long ago and went through renovations over the years. The pools are in the open and the view of the lake and the mountains around adds to the experience.

I already wrote about the Tamaki experience but I'll write again with more details this time. At 18:45 we set off to the Tamaki village. On the way the driver was eager to teach us some words in the Mauri language and also chose a Chief to represent us in the welcoming ceremony. I must say that the ceremony was more impressive than I expected. After the ceremony we were invited to the village. There are few village houses, in each one Mauri people explain on their culture: food, games, surviving skill and more, all with humor and the visitors get to participate. I tried to dance their dance, it was fun, but as they said, I should keep my day job. The dinner was excellent, Maya and I enjoyed it very much so we went for a second round, well, with buffet we always go for second rounds, but it was really good.

The day after, we drove to New Plymouth on "The Forgotten Road" - route 43. The view was nice, simillar to some roads in the north. In the middle there is a republic with great population of 30 people. An iconic hotel offers some refreshments as cold bear and ice cream, and you can see photos of the presidents, the bachelor of the year and also that for a few years a goat was the president of the republic.

Route 43 Route 43

Route 43 - 74 meters waterfall Route 43 - 74 meters waterfall

Route 43 Route 43

Route 43 - The Republic Route 43 - The Republic

New Plymouth was quite dead. I don't know if that was xmas comming, but the streets were empty. The hostel we stayed at, Ducks and Drakes, was excellent, a lot of shared places to sit and talk with other travellers, watch TV and cook. We planned hiking the Taranaki track (Agmont), but the weather was not that good so we rested another day. When we got up in the morning we found out that xmas is already here, we don't have food and nothing is open but McDonalds, so McDonalds it was. On the 26th, we strated the Pouakai circuit track. The first day was horrible, we walked in the clouds and didn't see a thing, only blank, white view. Just before arriving to the Pouakai hut the sky started to clear and we could see the mountain. As suggested by the lady in the DOC office at the park, we decided to come back the same way on the next day because the most beautiful view is in the first day of the track. At 20:00 after dinner we went to the Tarns, which are 2 ponds with great reflection of the mountain. It's recommended to go there at sunset or sunrise, so we were quite lucky to had such clear weather close to the sunset.

Taranaki Taranaki

Taranaki Tarns Taranaki Tarns

Taranaki Tarns Taranaki Tarns

Taranaki - The View From The Visitors Center Taranaki - The View From The Visitors Center

The second day was perfect, we saw the mountain most of the day and it looked like a different path than the one we walked the day before. It was a really nice track, but I wouldn't say it's a must in New Zealand, the mountain can be seen from the visitors center on a good day but it's not too hard to walk the Pouakai circuit, so if you have time to spare in that area go for it. You can also climb to the peak, but it requires ice walking gear and climbing more than 1500 meters and comming back the same day.

From New Plymouth we continued to Wellington, about 4 and a half hours drive. We only got to taste the great Pomodoro Pizza (open only 4 hours a day in the evening 17:00 - 21:00) and the next day we took the ferry to Picton, which is the only way to go with a car from the north island to the south island.

Pizza Pomodoro Pizza Pomodoro

Next are wine tasting and the Queen Charlotte track.