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Day 19 : Wednesday 23rd March 2005

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Napier - Taupo - Rotorua - Auckland

We took breakfast early in the same adjoining restaurant where we had had supper the night before. Today was probably our longest day of driving in the whole holiday as we traversed the North Island and headed up to Auckland in the North.

We headed off on the No. 5 Highway up to Taupo, hindered for a short while by another road obstruction, an overturned truck. We reached Taupo within a couple of hours, but didn't stop in the town, as we knew our main destination on the way was going to be Rotorua. However we did detour to a nearby set of Falls, the Huka Falls. A narrow channel of white water ends spectacularly in a large, violent waterfall.

Further up the road on the way to Rotorua, we spotted a sign for "Craters of the Moon". More through curiosity than any plan, we detoured and found a large thermal area. Given that it was free to enter, we ended up walking round for nearly an hour. Not in our plan, but very interesting nevertheless and it would reduce the time we would spend viewing such things in Rotorua. The majority of attractions were simply holes in the ground belching steam (which smelt of rotten eggs ) but there was also a large, bubbling mudpool at the far side of the area.

With time marching on, we headed on the road up to Rotorua, only about another hour's drive and got parked in a multi-story car park in the city centre. Lunch was at a small sandwich cafe and after that we walked down to the Government Gardens which were beautifully kept. Rotorua, being also on top of a large geo-thermal area, stinks of rotten eggs similarly to Craters of the Moon. But one gradually becomes acclimatised to it and its nauseous effect wanes after a while!

We then headed down to the lakeshore for a quick walk, but were soon heading back to the car, mindful that we still had 4 hours driving ahead of us to get to Auckland.

The rest of the day was taken up with this drive - indeed we got a bit lost in Auckland before we found our hotel - the very upmarket and swanky Hyatt Regency. After all our driving, we were pretty tired, but we decided to head down to the Viaduct Harbour where many of Auckland's eateries are situated. We selected a lovely restaurant and ate a good meal, but unfortunately after we had finished, the service seemed to disappear, and I eventually had to approach the counter to pay the bill. Bizarre.

Huka Falls

Craters of the Moon