January 15 -- Pampered at Hell's Gate

written by bryan on January 21st, 2009 @ 12:06 AM

Bethany from Auckland

Alas our last New Zealand destination. Only two more sleeps and we are heading back over the international date line again.

Today was a little about pampering. Bryan and I were initially eager to try to see north of Auckland but realized that we didn’t have enough time left to see Northland properly. So we had all day to make the drive from Rotorua.

We started the day with a tour of thr Hell’s Gate geothermal area complete with the world’s tallest mud volcanoe. There were mud baths bubbling away at 120 degrees Celcius. We submerged ourselves in our own mud bath (of a non-cooking temperature) followed by a hot mineral bath. The mud bath wasn’t quite what I expected. I though there would be more mud! Instead the pool was mostly murky water with a thin layer of mud on the bottom. It did feel good to massage the mud over the body and I followed my self-administered massage by one done by a pro while Bryan read the paper.

After our spa experience, we hit the road. We passed through one of the prime kiwifruit zones and this was evident in the kiwifruits featured in the road safety signs. We did wonder if one sign stating “clvr kws dnt txt n drv”, wasn’t perhaps just as distracting as the activity they were advising against.

We lunched in Mount Maunganui and had a swim in the ocean. And then onwards to Auckland.

We booked our accommodation through one of the i-Sites, or tourist info sites. I have to say that they did a fabulous job as our accommodation last night and here in Auckland are worth more than we paid. Our place tonight is in an short-term apartment hotel which has just opened and was discounted because the building isn’t fully finished. But our “studio apartment” is fabulous – washer/dryer, kitchen with oven, dishwasher, and cooking utensils. Unfortunately I fear wireless internet is one of the hotel’s incomplete items. Bryan did wander the streets looking for a connection but in the end only looked silly and confused a few taxi drivers.

On TV we are watching Maori TV. Only word I can recognize is “waka”. But I do have some visual clues as currentloy airing is a 5-man canoe race complete with some pretty impressive 180 degree turns.

Tomorrow will come too soon.

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