So yes, off to the Polynesian Spa we went! This was NOT free, but Becky, having never been to a spa before, really wanted to go…and so did I! We were famished after walking all over the park early in the morning and then hiking up the mountain late in the morning, so lunch was of the utmost priority. We had a nice spa lunch in their outdoor pavilion of the spa. My sandwich included avocado. Did you know that avocados are grown in New Zealand? They are not watery, they are a wonderful creamy goodness, on par with California avocados….soooo tasty. My guess is that they are not imported to the US because after such a long trip, they would be totally grody to the max. I digress on the fab avocados though…moving on…. We went to the Adult Pools and Priest Spa part of this place and it was NIIIIICE. There were several soaking opportunities to take advantage of, and if I remember correctly, we took advantage of ALL of them. We were almost like kids…. “Hey! Lets to go this pool! Let’s go to that pool now! Oh, this one is HOT!” “Ha ha ha – This one is stinky!” LOL. Some “adults” we were!!! Here’s what it looked like, along with some individual pics of us in the pool closest to Lake Rotorua. That one was awesome to sit in and look out over Lake Rotorua and see all the neat birds in the bird sanctuary there.
The last pic is actually of the old tiled baths that date back to 1931 (the first hand-excavated pools were dug back in the 1870’s and could apparently cure most anything (and I mean ANYTHING!!!)). The acidic water still bubbles up through the pumice stone at the bottom of those old 1931 pools. They were closed in 2003 and are now protected as a historic feature. The new pools that we actually soaked in surrounded the old ones, but the water is the same. So after we turned into total prunes, we showered, got dressed and continued our journey south.
There was something I REALLY wanted to see, and it was called Mud Pool. I read about it in NZ Frenzy and just had to experience it. This was yet another free attraction and one of the biggest boiling pools of mud around! Upon our arrival at Mud Pool, we were disappointed to find a big ‘ol fence that had been put up around to keep visitors out. It looked as if someone had been doing some construction and built brand new viewing platforms, which were not open to the public. Luckily, there were a few other visitors there and they showed us how to maneuver stealthily through the woods and around the fence to get in. And that we did. 🙂
Mud Pool had all sorts of high notes and low bass notes of percussion to it. I found the bass notes to be hilarious…almost like someone belching, but a LOT. It doesn’t take much to make me laugh I guess. 🙂 BUT, time’s a wastin’! Gotta get a move on! We snaked our way back around the fence and sat in the van figuring out our next leg of our journey. Whilst doing so, a van load of friendly men folk (locals, I guess? They had NZ accents) parked next to us and tried to strike up a conversation and even offered us beers. We thanked them kindly, but declined – we really wanted to make it to the southern part of Lake Taupo, and to do so, we needed to go go go! They probably thought that American chicks were big meanies, but we were at least cordial to them!
Next stop? Huka Falls! Yet another attraction mentioned in NZ Frenzy. The water was moving incredibly fast and was a gorgeous topaz blue. Check it out!
We went down closer to the falls and it was so loud that we almost had to yell at each other just to be able to hear. It was very powerful, yet very pretty.
After Huka Falls, we continued south to Lake Taupo. This is the largest fresh water lake in the Southern Hemisphere! It’s really pretty.
We continued on along the coast of Lake Taupo on Route 1, all the way to the southern tip of the lake…a fairly long way. We then headed north on 41 for about 5km to Tokaanu, to our final destination for the day, Oasis Motel and Campground. Why here? Well, they had their own geo-thermal pools that we could soak in! I guess we didn’t get enough at the Polynesian Spa earlier in the day. The other interesting thing is that Becky and I were finally going to camp in our van for the first time! YAY! We arrived at camp, got situated, then went to the little restaurant next door for some fish and chips. After our dinner, we went back to the van and began to get ready for our night “outside”. Here’s a few pics from the campground:
Shown below is Becky soaking her toes in the camp’s hot mineral pool (which we took full advantage of later that night!)
We basically just camped in a field. The pasture next door had horses!
Here’s our RV set up for night night.
Sunset at the Oasis Campground
Here is Becky journaling outside. It was chilly and the mosquitoes got a little too hungry, but we persevered!
To help get our core temperatures back up, we went for a soak in the camp’s mineral pools. There were several older folks in there, but they were very friendly. Why do we always find ourselves hanging out with old people?!?!? Not that it’s a bad thing, but an interesting fact nonetheless. Anyway, the bath was just the thing to make us warm and groggy, so afterward, off to bed we went. I sure hoped it would be comfortable in the van and that we would sleep well in our little bed. We had a LOT of driving to do to get to Wellington the next day, at the very southern tip of the North Island. More on that on Day 6!