The morning after the hike I felt like I had aged 60 years. I rolled out of bed moaning barely able to lift myself upright. I felt like I had done 10,000 squats the day before. Walking anywhere became more of a waddle as I could barely find the strength to bend in any direction.
Some how Kevin was doing pretty okay.
I was supposed to be the younger more vibrant one of the two of us! Perhaps it was good he met me when he did…
Needless to say, the next day was a slow start. Eventually, we loaded back up into our campervan and continued on!
On our way out the park, we stopped into Te Porere A Rereao. This was a historical site recommended by our lodge hosts and was a short walk to a military battle site of 1869. It is a site where Te Kooti and his followers were overcome by the Pakeha government forces with their Maori allies. The picture below below shows a structure that was constructed as an outpost to the main military position that remains.
Afterwards, we had plans to drive to Lake Taupo and spend the day walking around the lake. While the drive from Tongariro National Park to the lake was great, a long walk seemed like far too much effort after the energy it took for the quick walk just to view Te Porere A Rereao.
Pathetic, I know.
Feeling like we should explore something in the area, I found a small walk through Spa Thermal Park at the east side of the lake.
I should be able to do that, I thought!
When we arrived and started walking, it was apparent that I was not going to last very long. First off, I could not even get my shoes on my feet as my heels were so tender from the day before. Then my knee started aching about 2 minutes in.
We did manage to walk down to the thermal creek flowing into the Waikato River. The water from the creek was steaming hot but created the perfect temperature in the sections where the creek meets the river.
After enjoying the thermals which felt wonderful on my feet, we decided it was time to continue on towards Rotorua to view the geysers!
There are two major thermal parks in Rotorua: Te Puia Thermal Park (most touristy spot run by the government) and Whakarewarewa Thermal Village (more authentic cultural experience run by the Tuhourangi tribe).
From my research, Whakarewarewa and Te Puia were once one body but are now separated by a bolted gate. The separation came when the government decided they wanted to go in a different direction from the Tuhourangi tribe.
Kevin and I decided to visit Whakarewarewa as we liked the idea of supporting the local tribe. The admission price also included a tour through the village providing a great source of information about the thermal activity in the area and how the tribe LIVES among it.
Among the village are fenced off areas of steam holes and hot pools.
Some of the steam holes are boxed off and used as communal “steam boxes” to cook dinner. It operates like a slow cooker allowing those in the village to prepare a roast with vegetables and potatoes in the morning, drop it off in the steam box and pickup it after work for dinner. Because of the steam and moisture, it is impossible to burn what ever is being cooked!
One of the fenced off hot pools is even used exclusively to cook vegetables. Generally with your ticket admission, you get a boiled cob of corn from the thermal pool but because we arrived shortly before closing, we never got the chance to have one.
Too bad. I had actually been craving corn lately. Go figure.
Another cool thing in the village, is the bathing pools that are still in use by the locals in the village (after 5pm of course when the tourists are gone)! These are outdoor tubs that are filled with water from the hot springs.
Oh and then there are the geysers.
From the village, we got a great view of the two geysers!
Overall, it was a great tour through the village. It is really incredible that they continue to live among these hot pools and geysers.
Speaking of houses, tomorrow we were visiting the coolest houses ever. Hobbiton houses from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.
I could NOT wait!