Tauranga is the principle city of the Bay of Plenty and one of the largest export ports in NZ. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in NZ and is the principle kiwi fruit region.
We arrived at Nicki and Kent's and they were very welcoming. We caught up on our travels before heading down the pub for a pub quiz ! Largely due to Kents knowledge we did quite well, and were one question away from winning $40.
We drove to Rotorua the next day, the most commercialised destination on the North Island. Nicknamed 'Sulphur City' it has the most energetic thermal activity in the country, with bubbling mud pools and gurgling hot springs. It is scenically located on the shores of lake Rotorua which teems with trout.
We first decided to do some Lugeing which involved sitting on a little cart and hurtling down a track on the side of a mountain. A chair lift then takes you back to the top. There were three different tracks and the advanced was certainly the best. It was great fun to speed down and it was possible to take the luge up onto two wheels in some places !
There was a good view of the town and lake from the top as well, and we had to take a gondola up to get there.
We then headed into town and had lunch in a park surrounded by thermal springs. The sulphur smell was a little overpowering but it was nice sitting out in the park. We then carried on to Hells gate. This reserve covers 10 hectares with a 2.5km track to the various attractions including the largest hot thermal waterfall int he southern hemisphere. We took a walk around these attractions and saw the thermal volcano, many bubbling mud pools and lots of sulphur lakes.
We then decided to have a mud bath, and were submerged in mud in our own private bath for half an hour. After a cold shower we were put in a hot sulphur spring, all this supposed to be good for your health and skin. While we were in the spring one of the masseurs came up to us and offered us a free half hour massage as they were doing some training ! We immediately accepted and had a very relaxing massage from head to foot !
We returned to Tauranga in the evening and had spaghetti bolognaise. After a few beers we headed for bed.
we spent the next day in Tauranga looking around the shops. Monica got her first hair cut of the holiday and they did an excellent job.
Nicki and Kent were heading down to Wellington for the weekend but left us the hous keys. So we relaxed around the house in the evening and had a bit of NZ wine !