To the end….

….. Of the Thermal Explorer Highway, well that was our objective of today.

It was a later start this morning, the fumaroles noxious gases really knocked us out for the night (well the Tui might have helped).

Starting off deep in the Volcano Experience, we got to feeling the force of the earthquake that shook Christchurch and the wider Canterbury area. Watching the accompanying video brought home that 46 seconds of shaking can bring terrible devastation. Couple that with 4 reasonably active volcanoes and you get a view of New Zealand life that is probably seldom thought about by the traveller.

The Huka Falls (below) demonstrates another aspect of the raw power of Mother Nature in NZ. It is essentially the newest islands on the planet.

On the lighter side, we then went honey tasting. Hmmmm Manuka is nice, might be expensive, but is lovely. This was swiftly followed up be Lava Glass, watching Lynden Over blow a huge glad eye that had been commissioned to be part of an “illuminati” sign in someone’s livingroom!! Masonic or what? @maccagraeme then proceeded to get the heavy sales pitch for a half hour, with a personal tour of the shop. $500 wee glass vase anyone?

From there was our last hike across the Thermal Explorer Highway, aka SH5. Putting it frankly our Glenshee, Applecross and such roads don’t have a patch the last stage of SH5. This was alpine in nature and somewhat alarming when attempting it in an automatic 4 berther. A short lunch pit stop showed off some beautiful, and well hidden, waterfalls.

Napier, once over the mountains and safely down the other side is on the Specific side of the island, in fact our site tonight looks past that tree and out onto the vast expanse of the Specific. The town is famed for it’s Art Deco architecture, as i am reliably informed by @maccagraeme, that it was rebuilt in the early 1930s after, yes you guessed it, an earthquake.

So here i am, on the edge of the Specific, literally, in an earthquake zone. Oh i will sleep well.

Bubbling mud pit Batboy!

On my post Hobbiton come down we ventured into the caldera that is Lake Rotorua. Rotorua is the pleasant little lakeside city that has one added attraction; sulphurous clouds of eggy gas wafting over the downtown area and lakeside.

So after picking @maccagraeme up from a bout of dizzy nausea after a particularly tasty cloud wafted over him, we had a meander along the a fantastically impressive geothermal lakeside. Bubbling mud pits, boiling pools of water and sulphuric vents that make the water cloudy and very like milk.

It is a spa town, made famous by Mdm Rachael and a Priest, read in to that what you like 😉, but I do think that the potential for either getting stained coffee brown from mud pit bathing or poached in a boiling pool, both after passing out from sulphurous gases is a mugs game. Give me a good old jacuzzi any day, playing with geothermals on the Ring of Fire in an notorious earthquake zone…. Dodgy.

Hobbiton….. 10!

Acknowledged this was my geeky day.

The Hobbiton Movie Set was pretty amazing. Though @maccagraeme got pretty fed up with my excessive camera snapping (the new Nikon is going down a treat, btw) and general oh look and wow all the time, it is fair to say it was one of my special events. Yeah, i did say geeky.

It is Bagend for heaven sake…. BAGEND, who wouldn’t be excited? Gandalf below a smoke ship on the seat out front!!

Warm and sunny

Day two, well really three but i did crash out for 14 hours after the flight….
Yesterday was a trip into Christchurch centre, it is a real mixture of empty buildings waiting to come down post earthquake and recovery, with lots of new buildings and rather cool temp shops made out of cargo containers.

A trip to the beach followed and the Pacific from the other side (last time was the American west coast). Lots of surfers and beautiful sand.

Today, up the hills, with some real crazies cycling up some really step winding mountain roads and then further nutters running up…. But the views from the top are pretty beautiful.



And so it begins

Every time i fly with @maccagraeme i have to remind myself he is a, well, going to mildly freak out at my, sometimes excessive, lackasdaisiness. I probably do it to wind him up as well, cause in the start it is fun.

So we are here, Glasgow airport with a billion hours to kill before the flight. At least he has bought me breakfast and suggested Bloody Marys for our stop over in Heathrow.