Saturday, 16 April 2016

Aratiatia Rapids and Lava Glass

Prior to 1964 the Aratiatia Rapids were a highlight on the mighty Waikato River(Waikato Te Awa). Only 6 kms downstream from the Huka Falls the control gates are only opened by Mighty River Power 4 times a day releasing 80,000 litres of water per second, so that we can see this phenomenal sight. We had timed our trip from Waikite Valley to allow us plenty of time to be there for the opening at 2pm.

IMG_0867Tracey ready to walk up to the top lookout for the rapids.

With Derek opting to stay down on the bridge by the spill gates from the dam Tracey and I headed up hill to get a good vantage spot.

IMG_0870Lovely bush walk but all uphill.

We found ourselves a good vantage point to view the rapids.Tracey cannot remember being here as a young girl although I must admit it was many moons ago.  She certainly now has memories of the spectacular sight on a lovely New Zealand late summers day of the water surging through the rapids.

IMG_0880The rapids running in full swing from the control gates.

The natural scenery surrounding the Aratiatia rapids have made it a good feature in movies over the years.  The most prominent being New Zealand’s Peter Jackson’s the Hobbit.

IMG_0892Tracey in the lower Lookout with Aratiatia Rapids in the background.

After all that walking it was time for afternoon tea and where else but 5 minutes down State Highway 5 between Rotorua and Taupo we came across Lava Glass Sculpture Gardens. Opened by New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key in April 2014 it was a garden we had not visited previously. Set on an acre of beautifully manicured gardens are set over 500 glass sculptures of all shapes and sizes.  After a relaxing drink we headed off through the gate to set what it is all about.

IMG_0896Rainbow glass style.IMG_0903View across the garden.Fish trap in the centre of the pond.Fish trap in the centre of the pond.IMG_0901Beautiful colourful poppies.Glass filled rowing boat on the side of the pond.Glass balls of all colours in the rowing boat.SpheresGlass spheres.BirdsBirds.The Fairy GardenGlass Lanchwood trees.IMG_0919And finally glass pallets form the water fall. Beautiful.

Time to carry on and find a nice spot to stay in Taupo where Tracey had requested a visit to the Maori Carvings.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Welcome Home Tracey!

Daughter Tracey was here from her home in Surrey for a few weeks so we headed for Auckland to meet her off the plane. First stop was at a friends place in Taupo where we parked Gypsy Rover on the vacant section next door. After a wonderful evening with David and Lyn we drove north to Lake Karapiro and freedom camped at Horohoro Domain for the night.

IMG_0804Great accommodation and a lovely hot meal and showers in Taupo.

IMG_0806Horohoro Domain, a great place to freedom camp.

The next morning after a wake up call from fellow members of the NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Caravan Association) who were having a church service we were off in the direction of Auckland.  Our planned stop was to be Ardmore Airport before picking up Tracey on Sunday morning.  We were expected at my sister Mary and Tony’s home for lunch arriving just nicely at 12.30pm.  We had a lot to catch up on as Tracey was last here in 2011.  Unable to park anywhere close to Mary and Tony’s for the night our plan was to head back to Ardmore.  But plans are made to change and at 9pm we pulled into Pullman Park in Papakura to freedom park for the night.

Next morning we were off to Ngongotaha before the short trip to Waikite Valley Hot Pools the next morning. Tracey had originally requested Opal Hot Springs in Matamata where we had spent many happy holidays while the children were growing up.  But after the great reviews on the internet our plans were to go to Waikite Valley instead as we would be passing close by on our way to Taupo.

IMG_0811First in this morning, no parks available later in the day.

IMG_0815Lovely clean and enticing hot pools.

IMG_0854Shade available when needed.

IMG_0828Extensive hot pools set amongst the native bush.

IMG_0838Temperature in the vicinity of 98 degree here.

IMG_0820Lovely relaxing soak pool.

Next stop Lava Glass and Aratiatia Rapids.