Journal of a visit to New Zealand, via Singapore

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This page last updated: 31st December 2006.
Day 23: Rotorua Map

Day 23 I awake early. Outside, dawn is breaking. Across the lake, the city is covered with clouds. In the foreground a black swan and her cygnets are swimming. The lawn is covered with dew.

We have breakfast in the lounge. Christina has arranged for Ellie, a mobile hairdresser to come and cut Christine's hair at 9 a.m. Whilst this is going on, I discuss with Christina the things we'd like to do today and she rings around and arranges it all.

Adrian from Clearwater Charters arrives at 10 a.m. with his 24ft pontoon boat. He takes us across Lake Rotorua past the north side of Mokoia Island and into the Ohau channel. In these tranquil waters we see heron, grebe and swans. The channel leads into Lake Rotoiti. On the far side of the lake are the Manupirua Springs. These hot springs are inaccessible by road and exclusively for the use of those arriving by boat. There are three different pools, very cold, warm and very hot. Christine checks out the very hot pool. She finds it relaxing and invigorating at the same time. There is a slight smell of sulphur in the air. She doesn't need a towel afterwards, as she dries out naturally in the sun.

Fishing on the lake is managed to maintain the numbers of brown trout. The only trout allowed to be cooked is that caught by fishermen. It is not to be seen on restaurant menus. After leaving the pools, Adrian shows Christine how to handle the rod. This is her first ever attempt. An instrument on board the boat does soundings that indicate not only the depth of the water, but also detects the presence of fish. After a few false alarms when she hooks bits of vegetation, finally she catches a fish. She plays with it for a little while, and successfully manages to reel it into the side of the boat. Adrian gets a keep-net ready, but just as the fish hits the surface, it gives an almighty tug on the line and breaks free. It has broken an 8lb line. I see it as it surfaces but am not quick enough to photograph it. It must have been around a 12lb fish.

Christine would have liked to have carried on fishing, but it is time to head back. Where the channel into Lake Rotorua crosses under the main road at Mourea, some children are diving off the bridge into the river. We sail south of Mokoia Island back to Kawaha Point, where talk is only of "the one that got away".

It is a short drive up to "Mountain Action" at Ngongotaha, where Christine is booked on a half-hour trek. Her horse is called "Dancer". Riding boots and head-gear are provided. She has some difficulty mounting the horse, but once aboard, I don't see her for thirty minutes. She goes up the hill and back, but is too busy concentrating on the riding to admire the view.

It is extremely warm. Instead of heading straight back to Swiss Lodge, we take a drive around the lake via Ngongotaha and Hamurana. The road around the north side of the lake is rural and pleasant, but there are no lake views. The western side is the main road from Tauranga, quite busy and leading past an industrial area. We stop in town for a bite to eat before making our way back.

While Christine rests, I sit outside watching the swans, scaups and shags in the water. For a short while a grey heron comes and perches on the jetty. I only go inside when it starts to get dark.

Later I go up to "Jane & Eddies Takeaway". They sell fish, chips, sausages, burgers, toasted sandwiches, but surprisingly no pies. Eddie is originally from Grimsby. They don't have cod, haddock or plaice but hoki, dory or tarakihi. He recommends I try the latter. They don't have anything like mushy peas. Eddie tries to explain what they are to Jane, but she isn't impressed. Back at the lodge, Christina provides us with plates and cutlery and makes a pot of tea. We enjoy our feast of fish-an'-chips.

Journal - Day 24 Photographs - Day 23