The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

30 April, 2017

Reflections of NZ

We are near the end of 7 weeks of house sitting in NZ and packing to head back to Australia. Back to the caravan and continue our travels.

We had been exposed to fruits we hadn't tried before seen cultural life completely different to what we would see in Australia. We have been able to share some experiences with friends we have meet in Australia in their own country.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in NZ qnd will definitely be back to explore more areas.

Zulu in the backyard

One of Zulu favourite spots in the clothes basket, while Helen enjoys the sunshine in the conservatory. 

Waiting for the rain to stop, where's the sun gone!

Nice sunny day, lawns mowed and edges trimmed 

Zulu hiding in the Countdown bag, in Australia it's Woolworths!

Feijoa from the garden. Helen stewed some - great with ice cream

Baked Marrow  (Zucchini) fresh from the garden

 Aussie and Kiwi mix for breakfast, fresh avocado on toast with Vegemite and pepper!

27 April, 2017

Riptide - fishing

We were asked by Kathy & Neville to help get their boat, Riptide, onto dry dock for maintenence.  We thought this would be interesting as we had not experienced seeing a boat lifted onto dry dock.  After arriving at their Marina berth I became a deck hand, and after releasing from the dock we motored around to the cradle lift. 

Over the next few days we popped down and helped out where we could - sanding down, priming and painting. Did have a habit of turning up around coffee time, only to make sure they stopped for a break! 

The boat looked great going back into the water - Neville & Kathy had worked constantly for 5 days doing maintenance and giving her a fresh coat of paint.  During this time the weather stayed fine and warm which they had not experienced when doing previous dry docking, so were really happy they were able to get the work done with no rain interruption. 

We were fortunate to be invited out on the first outing after the maintenance was completed.

Releasing the moorings

Boat being lifted out of the water 

High pressure cleaning to get scale off hull

Riptide being positioned on the dry dock cradle where maintennce work can be done

Before I knew it I was working on the hull

With a fresh coat of paint and maintenance completed  it was time to go back in the water
Went out for an afternoon fishing trip in Tauranga Harbour and experienced nice weather and successful fishing - even pulling in a double header!
Enjoying the ride and harbour view on way to a fishing spot 

Helen supervised the fishing!

Successful afternoon fishing 

Check out these little babies - Kahawai which were smoked and enjoyed for dinner! 

21 April, 2017


From Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland we continued along SH5 to Taupo. The town is situated on the northern side of Lake Taupo. As we needed to be back in Tauranga that evening we decided to have lunch overlooking the lake and a quick look around before heading back along SH 1 through Tokoroa and Putaruru then turning of the highway to cross the Kaimai Range back to Tauranga. Lake Taupo is a major tourist destination offering many activities including parasailing, jet boat rides, trout fishing.

Taupo and Lake Taupo (Taupomoana)

Very pleasant down by the lake

One of the attractions was this golf hole in one. If you got a hole in one on the pontoon you would win $10,000. This chap gave it a good go and was landing on the pontoon on many occasions,  but walked away empty handed.

Other activities on the lake included parasailing

After lunch we headed out from Taupo onto SH1. This was a bit of a change in pace as had to contend with a lot more traffic and some B-doubles as this is the main highway to travel connecting the north and south. We hadn't traveled this way before so was nice to take in the scenery and travel through some different towns. All was going nicely until we passed through Tokora and about 5km north of town we encountered a traffic hold up. As it turned out there had been a serious accident on the highway and traffic was being diverted through a side road. Even though the delay made it a little later getting back we did get to see some more country side and made it to the Kaimai lookout just before sunset.

View from lookout as we crossed Kaimai Range

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

After our stay in Rotorua at our first Airbnb, we left early morning to travel to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland to see the eruption of Lady Knox Geyser which is scheduled to erupt every morning at 10.15 am. This seemed amusing as it was always 10.15 am, even during daylight saving times!

We took the road to Taupo and travelled about 27km to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Arrived early enough to have a quick look around the thermal pools, enduring the bad smell - hydrogen sulphide - before driving to Lady Knox for the 10.15am eruption. 

At 10am we gathered with many other tourists in anticipation for 10.15am eruption. The Wai-O-Tapu guide arrived and gave a presentation on the history and explained what causes the eruption, part of which explained how they induce the geyser every day at 10.15am. So now I know why it erupts on time every day!! They drop down environmental soap into the geyser which enduces a reaction and makes the geyser erupt. Lady Knox geyser naturally erupts at other random times during the day.

A park guide describes the history and how the geyser is enduced to erupt 

Lady Knox Geyser as it erupts for the audience 
After the demonstration we headed back to the reception at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland  for a coffee and a further look around the pools and craters - more civilised this time as the majority of the tourists viewed the area prior to 10am (they then viewed the geyser eruption before getting on a bus and off to see something else!). It was fascinating looking around at the various craters and the bubbling pools of 100°C water from the underground stream. At times the smell from the sulphur was most unpleasant to say the least.

From the lookout which overlooks the thermal park reception and steam from the many craters

Artist Palette

The smell can be quite over powering at times!

Artist Palette - overflowing water draws with it minerals, as the water cools the minerals are exposed to the atmosphere and show as various colours depending on the depth of water. 

Champagne Pools
The Champagne Pool is the larges spring in the district, being 65m in dia and 62m deep. The surface temp is 74°C and bubbles are due to carbon dioxide. Minerals contained in the water are gold, silver, mercury, sulphur, arsenic, thallium and are depositing in the sinter ledge.

Walkway passes the Sulphur Cave. You can see the sulphur crystal formations on the cave wall above the vents.

Champagne pool and the sinter ledge.

Devil's Bath, a large ruggedly edge crater. The natural water colour is a result from excess water from Champagne Pool mixing with sulphur and ferrous salts.

As we drove out of the park there was one more stop at the mud pools. Mud pools are two distinctive geothermal features, one is the pools are fed by deep geothermal fluids directed to the surface and the other is from steam and gas boiling deep under the earth - these interact to form discoloured pools and mud pots. Helen was totally enthralled with these mud pools.

The mud pools

Some of the gases as they erupt out of the mud making a spectacular blurp!

20 April, 2017

Mitai Maori Village

Planned another road trip for two days to experience a Maori culture show and visit Lake Taupo. Drove to Rotorua and ate our sandwiches overlooking the Lake watching the Lakeland Queen (stern-wheel paddle driven vessel) disembark taking people on a cruise around the lake. Walked to main street through an area known as 'Eat Streat' consisting of various restaurants and cafes.  Drove to our Airbnb and was happy to find it clean and tidy! Freshened up ready for our Maori Cultural Show at Mitai.

Mitai is situated in a natural bush setting and on arrival we were greeted and entertained by the MC for the evening before going for a walk to see Warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (Waka) down the Wai-o-Whiro stream. On our way to the Cultural Show we stopped at a Waka where we were advised on different carvings on the canoe, then looked at the traditionally cooked hangi which we were having for dinner.

Throughly enjoyed the Cultural Show where we were greeted by a Chief who told stories and enlightened us on Maori past, carvings, ta moko (tattoo art), weaponry and combat.  The performers entertained us with their singing and dancing including the poi dance and haka. A wonderful night of entertainment!  After the show we were ushered back to the dining area where we helped ourselves to hangi. There was so much food and it was very, very tasty.  After the meal we were taken outside and walked around the natural bush looking at glow worms, village huts, various trees and was pleased to see a silver fern.  What a great night!

Mitai Maori Dancer performing the haka

The Maori canoe called a Waka 

Traditionally cooked hangi

Warriors in traditional dress - just paddled down the stream and will participate in the Cultural Show

Chief in charge of the Cultural Show 

Entertained by traditional dancing and singing

Poi dance

The cool water spring which feeds into the Wai-o-Whiro stream

A Silver Fern

16 April, 2017

Te Kopia Scenic Reserve

Te Kopia Road
Our friends Kathy & Neville invited us to their weekend retreat by Lake Ohakuri for the day. We followed them south from Tauranga passing through Rotorua then another half hour drive through Te Kopia Scenic Reserve.  We stopped at Tikiroa O Paeroa which is a thermal area overlooking the bubbling mud pools. With recent rains the water appeared milky instead of the brown mud - however it facinated us watching the mud boil and also seeing all the steam coming out of the mountain range.

Te Kopia Scenic Reserve

Tikiroa O Paeroa thermal area

We drove onto Rotota where they have an onsite caravan which overlooks Lake Ohakuri. Before lunch we had a nice walk around the area, stopping for a sit in the hot tub which is fed by natural thermal water from Lake Ohakuri. From the hot tub you have a fantastic view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Timed it nicely as was back having lunch when a thunder storm came over.  We left around 4.30pm when the air was starting to get chilly and had a great drive home as the steam was quite prominent pouring out from the Range, and driving through the gorges with low cloud created an erie atmosphere.

Lake Ohakuri