004.19th March 2005. It’s ours but first a holiday…

The best negotiations we could sort out would be final settlement and collect the motorhome (from here on it shall be known as MH) on 26th March. The excitement mounts but of course I was already committed to a New Zealand conference for my work. I would be in Auckland on that day and Donnis would be flying in to meet me. Daughter Averyl and her husband Paul, had offered to take a holiday to pick up the MH and do a little travelling on the Gold Coast. The plan was a few days there and a slow trip home. I understand it mostly worked out that way but the driving cabin does not have AC and even with windows open and fan blowing they said it became uncomfortably hot. So hot that Averyl had to go back and lay down on the bed while Paul drove. Of course Donnis and I were still in NZ. The week long conference wound to a close on the Saturday and Donnis arrived about dinnertime. From then on we had a week to explore NZ starting from Auckland.

City Tower from Harbour. Auckland. NZ

We drove North East to Paihia then directly West to Hokiangi Harbour along the West Coast ,

Opononi Harbour. North Island West Coast NZ

through Auckland once more and headed for Waitomo Caves. We stayed at Waitomo Caves House

Waitomo Caves House. North Island NZ

While in the Waitomo area we did a Black Water rafting Trip. Now this is something different. They fit you out in a pretty thick rubber suit with rubber booties and big rubber gumboots or “Wellies” as the locals call them. Then a Rubber head piece and a crash hat with light and an inflated rubber tube. No cameras allowed. In fact no personal items allowed. Then they take you by van to a hillside grazing property and suddenly behind some bushes is a steep track which leads to a hole in the ground. I suppose cave opening would be more appropriate. Then we descend into the darkness on wet, slippery, muddy very steep, sharp rocks. The only light is from our headlamps. Some of us get a bit boisterous and throw our rubber tube into the giant hole and get a perverse pleasure listening to it bounce down the rocks. Of course we then have to go and look for the thing cause we are gunna need it! Finally we wade into very cold and dark knee deep water  carrying our rubber tube (Hereinafter calle RT). This is not so bad. The bottom is very uneven but our Wellies are up to the task although they have filled with water and are quite heavy. Still carrying our RT we move forward. Uh Oh! the water is getting deeper. Up to the waist and then the chest and then the chin and boy am I glad to have that RT. We float along in darkness with lots of headlights nodding around the wet walls. We are told to turn off our headlights and WOW! there are glow worms only inches from our face hanging from the cave ceiling. The thought creeps into my mind. “Its been raining all week. What if there is a deluge and the creeks fill up and we are down here?”  Time to think positive thoughts. Next we hear what we think is a  waterfall and sure enough there is a small waterfall with a stainless ladder to climb down. The water is too shallow and jumping was not recommended. Darn! The water became shallow again then another waterfall this time with a slippery dip built into it. Then a bit more trudging and swimming and shivering and we were climbing up to sunlight again. Sure beat the alternative river cave in a pontoon boat and all very safe and civilised. While staying at the hotel we took an afternoon to visit a black sand beach at Marokopa Beach.

Black sand at Marokopa Beach. North Island NZ

Time to move on to the hot mud, and steamy geysers and sulphur fumes at Rotorua.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Area near Rotorua

A side trip took us to a local swimming pool where boiling waterfalls plummeted down crevices into natural creek beds where it is harnessed and cooled to 34 degrees.

Boiling Waterfall. Waikito. North Island. NZ

We took a gondola ride to the top of a monster hill overlooking Rotorua. Hundreds of people lined up for an hour or more to be able to take a  Luge ride down the hill only to pick a gondola or chair lift to the top to line up and do it again. I would have loved to have a go but did not care for the queue up.

Frank & Donnis on Gondola above Rotorua. North Island NZ.

We loved Rotorua despite the constant smell although to be honest we forgot the smell after a short while and there always sems to be lots of places to see and things to do. It was also centrally located and all other places are easily driven to. In fact everywhere we went was an easy drive. Not hard considering it is a small place and we only visited the North Island.

After Rotorua we had a scenic drive on our way back to Auckland for our flight home.

The excitement of seeing the MH took over from the excitement of being in NZ.


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