We have since moved on from Taipa after spending a very good time with my parent’s friends up there. And we would like to thank them again for showing us around, putting us up in a flat, taking us fishing, and everything else in between! So thank you Mark and Ann and your friends! And we hope you enjoy your holidays back home in Estes.

- Pictured above left is Mark and Ann, and above right is their neighbor Keith who took us out fishing. -

After leaving from up North we thought it best to get things sorted for the holidays before everything filled up and left us to celebrate it in the streets. Thus we made towards Rotorua with a quick stop in Matakohe along the way. Once there I got to show my parents around and let them see a couple things I enjoyed during my time such as the Redwoods Forest there and experience a couple things I didn’t get to as well like Wai-O-Tapu and the gondola and louge rides.

Wai-O-Tapu - This is a large volcanic and or thermal area wreaking of sulfur smell and bound by endless unnatural, yet natural colors that you ordinarily wouldn’t find elsewhere. There were formations of brilliant yellows and reds, boiling lakes of greens, red algae covering the surface of almost all the trees, and my personal favorite was Champagne Pool which constantly steams and has a deep aqua blue center framed by fiery orangish-red color and a crusted edge. I wish I could remember all the different mineral makeups that formed these awesome creations, but they have slipped my memory. I might have to look at my brochure
again if I can find it…….

- To the left is the famous Champagne Pool and to the right is me Mum and I in front of I think Devil’s Hot Tub or Devil’s Bath. I can’t remember for sure because Devil this and Devil that were of high use. -

The one picture I wish I could have gotten, but missed because I was too slow, was of my Dad sticking his foot in a thermal pool. It was right off one of the trails, was clearly marked to stay to the trail too, but he “wanted to see how hot it really was” and burned his foot in the process. Turns out it was, “damn hot(!)” and quite amusing to my Mom and I. =) And hopefully teaches everyone else out there not to stick your foot in boiling thermal pool.

Gondola and Louge Rides - The ride up to the top of the mountain in the gondola was nice and gave an excellent view of the city, lake, and surrounding area from the top. The louge rides were fun, but a bit disappointing. On one track you picked up a good deal of speed, enough to blow your helmet back, but the fun was soon cut short as they placed crisscrossed 2×4’s across the track to make you lose your speed as you zigzagged in between them and the speed could then never be recovered.

- Here’s my Dad and I wearing our sweet safety helmets as we tried rock the lift back up to the top, and the other is a partial view out of the gondola down upon Rotorua. -

During all this and a few other things we managed to get sorted for Christmas. We will be staying in Taupo for a few days during which, if all goes according to plan, we plan to go zorbing, bungy jumping, and experience a traditional native Maori dinner on my birthday with Rachel after she gets in on the 23rd, resting on Christmas day, and catching a ride on the ferry to the South Island the following day in the evening.

Waitomo Caves - This was one of my favorite places on the North Island and thought my parents would enjoy it as well. So they got to experience the glowworm night walk along a stretch of small river intertwined with small cave tunnels off it’s banks, walk through the natural land bridge, see Marakopa Falls, and even took off on their own for a day with a local tour company where they got to rappel, go caving, black water rafting (tubing through caves), see even better glowworms underground as they floated along in their tubes, and climbing.

- Here they are in their stylish wetsuits as they rappel down to the stream below. -

Now we are in a town called Whatamanga on the coast of the Bay of Plenty where we have been for the past few days, and prolly will stay until we go to Taupo. It’s a nice central location to a number of sites in the area and allows us to have a home base to travel from. Yesterday we drove to a nearby gorge where hiked among numerous old gold mines, even ventured into some bigger ones despite the lack of flashlights and were just thankful to be out of the rain because we got absolutely drenched while outside on the trail.

Today was super nice out and we took a drive up to the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula and followed a trail up to a lookout point for some stunning views like the ones pictured below.

The Parents Are Coming!

Actually the parents are here! And have been for quite some time. Almost a week in fact, I guess I’ve been slacking on updates because of it!

- Here we are at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with a Maori carving substituted for my bro who couldn’t make it out here. -

Anyway, Me Ma and Pops got in just fine last Friday, and didn’t suffer too much from the effect of a long flight. We’ve been doing a variety of things. First we got out of the big city and headed up North to a town called Whangerai. Stayed in a nice Bed and Breakfast our first night and did a couple easy hikes in the area there to get a feel for things. And moved on to Paihia in the Bay of Islands, my first stop on my own, where we stayed for another night before coming up here to our current destination of Taipa. Taipa is a very small town and not touristy at all which is just fine. My parents have friends here, Mark and Ann Perry, that we’re staying with at the moment who are actually from Estes, and have been coming here for 21 years if I remember correctly.  They have been great and are showing us a good time. Our first day we ticky-toured up to the Northern tip of the North Island to Cape Reinga stopping off at Spirits Bay and the sand dunes along the way. The sand dunes were fun. My Dad and rented a boogey-board to ride down on them. No one else was up for I guess, but we had fun as they watched us from down below. My Dad must have felt I was a little kid during the experience because at one point he held the board for me while I climbed on to go shooting down the sand to a vicious spill and sliding halt on my rear. It didn’t stop me from getting back on though and ending up in a stream below before getting off. And then on the way back down we took Ninety-Mile Beach which was awesome. Driving on the beach was so much more relaxing surprisingly than the curvy, bumpy roads of New Zealand. The beach was nice, straight, only a few bumps, we could watch the waves beat in on the sand, see
seagulls pick up small shells to about 20 feet in the air before releasing them to the ground below in hopes of breaking them open for a small treat, and so forth.

- Here’s a picture of my Dad wiping out on the dunes. -

We’ve also been out fishing in Doubtless Bay where we caught Red Snapper and a number of other fish that I can’t recall there names at the moment. I caught four of them, and was happy with that(!) because when we usually go deep sea fishing in Mexico or something we usually don’t catch anything at all, or everybody else does and I don’t get squat. So we had a local restaurant fix some of the catch last night which was fresh and delicious!

- This is one of Mark’s catches of the day. -

What else….oh yes, we’ve been oystering as well when the tide is out. Yesterday we brought in bucket after bucket of the little guys, which are quite good steamed or even cooked on the grill with a little sauce. So all in all things have been going very well and we’ve been enjoying living on the sea if you will. We plan to move on shortly though South of here and figure out where we’re going to stay for Christmas before everything books up! Hope everyone is doing well back home in cold Estes Park! We heard today that it was 17 below there! Yikes