Week 9 Day 55 Hamilton, Rotorua, Te Kuiti, Waitomo Caves, and Taumarunui

hamilton new zealand
A Geothermal Spring

A Geothermal Spring

A protest of GMO's down the streets of Hamilton

A protest of GMO’s down the streets of Hamilton

Week 9 Day 55

Taumarunui 38.8833° S, 175.2617° E

Tom and I finished our day in Hamilton buying food at the New World Market and heading over to a lake park on Lake Rotoroa in Hamilton to cook and settle in for the night.  We switched up our nightly routine of reading and card playing by watching Lord of the Rings, which Tom had downloaded while we were in town working.

Saturday morning started off, what would be a week of almost non-stop terenchal down pour rain and wind.  I took full advantage of this cold spring morning to hop into Bikram Yoga Hamilton for class, while Tom sat at Columbus Coffee in Hamilton and did some work.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Sylvia, a girl from my Fall 2012 teacher training teaching class!  Following class and catching up with Sylvia, Tom and I headed to the Salvation Army to pick up some much needed gear.

Since I am sitting here in Taumarunui writing this post after just taking a LONG shower I can admit, that Tom and I went one week and one day without a shower.–I guess I took a sink shower, fully washing up hair and all after taking Bikram last Saturday, but still a shower felt divine!


One hack for surviving with limited showers, are hats.  This is one thing I didn’t pack, so that was a must on our trip to the Salvation Army, as well as an oven mitt that I’m excitedly showing off.←

Prior to the oven mitt, I had been using one of Tom’s shirts to cook.  I was super happy for the $.50 upgrade!

Our big plan for the day was to attend a Rugby game that evening.  Since it was raining really hard (you will find this to be the theme of the week!)  We decided to post up in the free parking spot we found near the stadium, tail gate with our sausages and beans, and read until game time.  Since I last posted, I’ve read Tom The Husband’s Secret and The School Revolution.

We also wasted time by taking a couple selfies...I apoolgize, but my mom wanted me to make sure I was getting enough pictures of myself into the blog. Mom this one's for you! Do you like me new hat???

We also wasted time by taking selfies…I apologize, but my mom wanted me to make sure I was getting enough pictures of myself into the blog. Mom this one’s for you! Do you like my new hat???

The Husband’s Secret was a fiction book that happened to coincidentally be set in Australia (our next location on our trip).  It wasn’t the best book, but there were enough twists and turns to keep us entertained.

The School Revolution has been a good read for Tom and I as a newlywed couple.  It has sparked long discussions about how we plan to educate our future children.

I realize it may sound boring to some reading this blog, but one of my favorite things about this trip with Tom is the time we’ve spent reading together.  My love for a good page turner and Tom’s love of self-education make a great mix to pass the hours…especially when it’s pouring down rain, you’re trying to avoid spending money, and you’re living out of a car.


Tom's favorite picture of the night. He went to the bathroom and came back to find me surrounded!

Tom’s favorite picture of the night. He went to the bathroom and came back to find me surrounded!

Anyways back to the game.  It was a lot of fun to see a Rugby game live.  We were a little surprised at the small turnout, but tickets were cheap and we quickly made friends with some Taranaki fans.

Waikato led the entire match, but Taranaki made it interesting by holding Waikato to their 22 pts. the second half and going on a 14 point come back run.

We woke up Sunday morning and continued on our North Island Road trip to Rotorua.

We had your typical Sunday in Rotorua.

We went to Church, made brunch, and swam in a geothermal waterfall.

20131013_112410Rotorua may be the coolest town we’ve been to so far.  (The next town we hit, Waitomo rivaled it but I haven’t gotten there yet!)


One of the best things we did in Rotorua, was just walk around Kuirau Park.  It is a free Geothermal Park, right in the heart of the city.

20131013_11372720131013_112010We had a blast walking through the park, seeing all the different pools, steam, bubbling mud pits, and the effects of all these things over time.

As you can see from some of the pictures, the water was surprisingly really clear, so you could see the rock formations underneath really well.


The park itself also had some pretty bushes, trees, and flowers that were all starting to bloom.  I guess on the southern side of the world, October showers bring November Flowers??

The other funny thing that happened in Kuirau Park was that we ran into our friends from the Rugby Game!

They happened to be passing through too on their way back to Taranaki from the game the night before.

We soaked our feet in some of the mini geothermal, foot hottubs together with our friends from the previous night before setting out to explore the rest of the park.

20131013_114523Another cool thing we found in the park was, the New Zealand Pukeko, Tom’s favorite bird of the trip so far.  (We have seen some pretty crazy birds, both in Hawaii and in New Zealand.  Remember the Lovebirds of Maui, and

Check out it's crazy legs!!

Check out it’s crazy legs!!

though I’ve yet to get a picture, Tom and I have both seen a crazy lime green bird, The Red-Crowned Parakeet,  flying around!)

The little, man-made hot tubs of Kuirau Park weren’t going to do it for us.  If you stay at a Hotel in Rotorua you can find full sized Geothermal tubs, but Tom and I wanted to see a natural one!

Reading up on what to do in Rotorua, I was able to find us a natural Geothermal Spring that was safe to swim in!

20131013_133451We headed a little bit out of town and within 1/2 an hour we were at Kerosine Creek!

It wasn’t hot tub hot, but we were surprised to be sitting under a waterfall of bath tub warm water!

20131013_133943Unfortunately, as soon as we got there, a tour bus full of tourists also arrived.

I guess you could say it was bad timing, but it ended up working out for us as we headed upstream to our own private waterfall pool for two!

We ended up parking our car for the night back at Kuirau Park.

20131014_085135We took one more opportunity to walk around the park the next morning, stopping for a bit to start the day with some yoga near one of the steamy ponds.

Before heading out of town, there were a couple of things we wanted to hit up.  We headed slightly east of town to Blue and Green Lake (Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokakai).

20131014_094634The picture above doesn’t quite show the vibrant differences in color, but Green Lake is actually green due to it’s shallow, sandy bottom, while Blue lake appears to be blue due to reflection of it’s white rhyolite and pumice lake floor.

Green Lake is actually a privately owned lake.  It is owned by the  Te Arawa Māori, and they don’t allow access.  Blue Lake, however, has a lot of rec areas, including a cool little running/trekking trail that runs around the perimeter of Blue Lake.

20131014_095711We continued on from Blue/Green Lake to the Buried Village of Te Wairoa.

You can’t see the Volcano that buried the village, because the crater is in the clouds, but it would be just to the right of lake in the distance.  →

We headed back into town from the buried village with one more stop to make at the Whakarewarewa Forest, to see the giant Redwoods.

It ended up being somewhat of a bust, given that the Redwoods we saw in California were much bigger and older.  The oldest Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa were planted in 1901.

A Geothermal Spring

We did see this ← super cool geothermal spring though on our trek through the park.

After trekking around the Whakarewarewa Forest and stocking up on apples at a local produce market (the produce markets are much cheaper for fruit than the grocery stores, so we stock up on $1 bags of apples when we can!) we continued south-west through the North Island toward the Waitomo Caves.

20131014_130907Along the way we saw a sign for the largest Totara Tree so we had to stop!

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but driving around New Zealand is really fun because there are so many crazy sites just 10-20 minutes walk from the road.

20131014_130852All these sites are great ways to walk around and stretch your legs after sitting in the car for the long periods of time we sometimes do to get from town to town.

The Pouakani Totara was nowhere near as big as Tune Mahuta we saw last week, but it was still pretty cool.

20131014_130917On the way back to the car Tom stubbed his toe 🙁


But he was ok.

We reached Waitomo around 5 Monday evening, only to be welcomed by yet again another rain storm.   We had been planning to do a couple of the hikes in the area, but with the pouring down rain, we were once again stuck reading in the car.

We ended up meeting 2 other fellow travelers, Simon and Claudia from Germany, and spent the evening hanging by their campervan.

The rain cleared for a bit around 9 and we took a lantern lit bushwalk through Ruakuri Cave so we could see the glowworms that illuminate the trail at night!

We had hoped the weather would clear over night, but we woke up once again to another rain storm.

Needing to charge up our devices and perhaps get some work done, we headed to Marokopa on the coast in search of an internet bar or cafe and perhaps some sunshine.

Cool rocks along the road on the way to Marokopa.

Cool rocks along the road on the way to Marokopa.

We unfortunately found neither.  It continued to storm the entire way to the coast and Marokopa happened to be a middle of nowhere town.

20131016_122215There was a really cool waterfall!

DCIM100GOPROThere were also fields upon fields of cows, goats, and sheep.  The town of Marokopa, however, hardly had a convenient store and definitely didn’t have any WIFI or even a place to charge our cell phones.

More selfies as we waited the rain out in our car preparing to do the Ruakuri Cave Bushwalk. These are the best New Zealand Beers we've found!

More selfies as we waited the rain out in our car preparing to do the Ruakuri Cave Bushwalk. These are the best New Zealand Beers we’ve found!

We headed back through Waitomo to the town of Te Kuiti where we did find a bar with unlimited WIFI, a lunch special, and $5.50 draft beers.  After getting some work done, eating a meal cooked with more than one burner and pot, charging up our phones, cameras, and labtops, and downloading a movie to entertain us during the storm we headed back to our Waitomo Campsite for the night.

All ready to go, GOPRO and all!

All ready to go, GOPRO and all!

We lucked out, because shortly after we got back to our Waitomo campsite the weather cleared and we were able to do the Ruakuri Cave Bushwalk in the day!

20131015_183724The Bushwalk in daylight didn’t disappoint either, despite being our second time through!

20131015_191112The natural viewing platform that the trail leads to is super cool.  In it you overlook a huge cave with water rushing through beneath you!

Tom climbing into the cave!

Tom climbing into the cave!

The best park of the hike though, was the cave we found off to the side of the trail.

20131015_183724It was actually a pretty deep cave with a river running beneath as well!

Tom and I were both amazed by the caves!

It was so much fun to be able to explore something so cool without a tour guide.  (There are plenty of guided tours, but once again they are quite expensive.  The one benefit to doing a guided tour though is that you get to abseil down into the cave.  To abseil, we learned from our German friends Claudia and Simon the night before means to rope down.  It is a German term that the New Zealand Waitomo Cave Tours have adopted.  Since both Tom and I have had the opportunity to rappel, we were both content to stick the the free version without a guide!)

20131015_183845Each cave seemed to have corners and turns that kept going and going.

20131015_184212It is amazing how much time you can spend exploring the caves.

They were pretty unreal!

Look for Tom's headlamp peeking out of the rock!

Look for Tom’s headlamp peeking out of the rock!

20131015_185533This hike was definitely one of the best ones Tom and I have ever done! 20131015_184624Not only was there so much new terrain that neither one of us had ever explored, but the normal trail was very pretty too! The rain started once more, just as we were finishing our hike! We quickly made some dinner on our little camp stove before settling in for the night to read and watch Watchmen. We woke up Wednesday morning with a plan to get some good exercise in since we would finally be getting a shower that afternoon!!!!!!! We headed out on a muddy hike through the Waitomo farmlands. We were able to get about 6 miles of a run/hike, but there wasn’t too much to see on this trek. The highlight of the trek was the log bridge Tom and I had fun doing yoga on, testing our balance over the river. 20131016_084529

Tom doing Balancing Stick.

20131016_084250My Standing Bow

20131016_115458After making a quick breakfast of sausage and eggs on our camp stove, we headed off to the next adventure, the Mangapohue Natural Bridge.

It was another quick 1 mile run, but it had an awesome view in the middle!


  20131016_115638After seeing the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, we started our drive to Stone Throw Lodge, a Bed and Breakfast my mom and dad booked for us.

They had stayed there a couple years earlier and had a blast, so they sent us back to enjoy this spot ourselves.


A Mama and her little baby colt.

A Mama and her little baby colt.

As usual, we saw gorgeous scenery the whole way there!  I like the picture above because it has my favorite tree, the tree fern or Dicksonia squarrosa.  They make every hillside and forest that has them so much more interesting to me.

We stopped in the small town of Taumarunui to pick up dinner and arrived mid afternoon, good and sweaty from our hikes and super ready for a shower!!


We spent the evening warming up, being incredibly happy to be clean, making a dinner (Green Thai Chicken Curry with actual veggies!), washing clothes, and watching sheep eat grass along the Wanganui River.

Stone Throw is an awesome little gem!  Run by local Taumarunui couple Nadine and Charlie, Stone Throw was like stepping into my parents cabin–just on the other side of the world!

Sitting on the river, the little mother-in-law unit they have has a mini kitchen, an river front view, sheep to make friends with, and cool little towel heaters in the bathroom!


The Stone Throw Property

It’s currently 12:24, about 3 hours later than we been staying up, but Tom and I have both enjoyed having electricity and neither one of us seems tired.  It’s our goal to wake up by 7  tomorrow to take advantage of being able to get a good workout before our last shower, a kitchen to cook breakfast in, maybe the motorboat we get access to (assuming the weather is good!), and of course a couple more minutes of free WIFI!–I;ll let you know how that goes tomorrow before we leave!

The friends I made this morning. It's crazy how long Sheep will just stand there staring at you...I guess a new person hanging around is more exciting than eating grass.

The friends I made this morning. It’s crazy how long Sheep will just stand there staring at you…I guess a new person hanging around is more exciting than eating grass.

We did get up around 7:15.  (After pressing snooze a couple times!)  Surprising too because after I finished writing for the night, we started This is the End and I actually stayed awake for the whole movie–A super rare occurrence for me.  I think Tom has seen this movie 4 times now, because I’ve fallen asleep in the beginning that many times.

This morning, I wandered out to the riverside to check out the sheep upclose.  Sheep are funny creatures.  They like to play Red Light/ Green Light with you.  They would stand and watch me, if I was watching them.  The second I turned around, however, they would start creeping towards me slowly but surely.  These 3 to the right were the ones daring enough to get closest to me.

Tom was able to get a couple calls in, we went for a run, made a hearty breakfast, bahhed at some sheep, and it was time to hit the road.

DCIM100GOPROThat’s all we have for you this week.  Tom will post soon!  His next post will be worth the wait!  He plans to edit some of the video footage we’ve gotten so far!

What town do you think was cooler, Waitomo or Rotorua?

Comments 8

  1. Mom

    Yes, I love the selfies!!!!!! I like your new hat too…….hope you checked it for lice first! This was a fun, fun, fun post to read. You should see me sitting on this plane grinning from ear to ear as I enjoyed “being with you”, reading about all you’ve done!! The sheep (lamb-y lambies in my speak) ARE so funny. Baaah!

  2. Megan D.

    I remember the glory of getting a shower after a week or so…one of the best feelings in the world. What an awesome little place your parents booked for you and Tom! Did you do any fly fishing while you were there? Looking forward to Toms video editing skills next week!

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  4. Kathy Howard

    What an adventure. Just tuned in today. Looks like you two are having a grand time.

    Kevin and I did a (somewhat) similar thing after we were married. Learned a lot about each other!! In a good way!

    Have fun.

    We love you,
    Uncle Kevin and Aunty Kathy

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  6. Aunt T

    OMG! Another fascinating post! I don’t know where to start with this interesting update.
    Like that hat–no lice i’m sure. I bought a cool red sweater from goodwill and didn’t wash it. That was 5 months ago and no ill effects. (I hope no one but you is reading this! 🙂
    Love those lambies that stare at you and play red light -green light.

    Recently read a post about why your cats stare at you. My cat Sophia does this all the time. It’s because they love you and love studying your face. Does my sweet nephew Colby jack stare at you? Bet he does!!

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