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  • Writer's pictureClaire

04/04/24 Waikite Pools to Coromandel Hot Water Beach

Still feeling a little jaded but in a good way, I was back in the hot pools by 645hrs. Bloody fabulous! Overnight I’d needed to use the loo, and getting to the toilets which were literally right next to us, was like going through a scene from the hound of the Baskerville! Thick heavy steam hung in the air, the moonlight giving it a really ghostly air, it was seriously creepy. All I could hear was the bubbling of the pools and hissing steam. Ok so I’m a scaredy cat! Si didn’t come in this morning, he’s not a fan of them, and was contentedly sat on the cafe terrace drinking tea whilst I plonked myself in the hottest pool. A couple joined me and we got chatting, he was a kiwi and she was from Bristol, and hadn’t lost her accent. They lived in the UK until their kids were two and three then decided they really didn’t want to bring up kids in the uk, they could see the writing on the wall. So they moved out 25 years ago and haven’t looked back. They were full of useful information, and advice on places to go and things to see. They also had the best advice. See what you really want to see and then anything else is a bonus. Never has a truer word been uttered. I was getting increasingly frustrated by the little amount we’d seen of the country, I’ve now adopted their slant on it, which I suspect will make a significant difference. After soaking till my fingers were wrinkled and the time was ticking in towards when the public would be let in, I hauled myself out and got changed. Once dressed we went to locate the spring that feeds the pools. It is a short walk and we were engulfed by some of the most lush and beautiful landscapes while learning about the different elements of the area. At the end of the trail is the exquisite Te Manaroa Spring which discharges into the Otamaakokore Stream and then feeds the pools. There is useful information posted the whole way which I obviously have photographs of and it was absolutely fascinating. If you’re interested in loosing a week of your life and viewing the pics then please, fill your boots on our return!

After a further brew for Si and half a gallon of water for me, we packed up Ismene and drove to our first stop of the day, Rainbow mountain and it’s beautiful Crater Lake. It’s one of those places, that when you see photographs you instantly think it’s photoshopped. My day was made because the photos I captured are magnificent, the colour of the lake is the purest opaque turquiose. It’s simply beautiful. The area is very peaceful, the multicoloured rocks accentuated by the vibrant green foliage and native shrubs, and large puffs of steam leaking from cracks and crevices from deep underground. It’s a  magical sight to behold. 


The summit is about 1.5 hours by foot from the crater lakes, and, from here you can see Mt Tarawera; Lakes Tarawera, Rotomahana and Rerewhakaaitu to the north; Paeroa Range to the west; the Te Urewera Ranges and Kaimanawa Forest to the east; and Mt Tauhara, Lake Taupo and the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park to the south. Obviously we didn’t do that, my skills are awe inspiring but are not up to that!! Best of all it is a free activity, and there are (long drop) toilet facilities at the beginning of the track… in a little shed

Jumping back into Ismene we backtracked on ourselves (because I’m stupid) and drove to Wai-O-Taupo Geothermal Wonderland attraction. However, the wonderland resort was not our destination, just before it there are freebie mud pools that you can visit. They’re all fenced off and have boardwalks so you can see the pools up close and also in relative safety. The mud is a bit ploppy, so there is the potential to get splashed and burned if you are too close.  These bubbling mud pools offer a tremendous show of geothermal forces at work, and once again I am left in awe at how powerful and untameable Mother Nature is.

We had already decided to give the geothermal wonderland miss and headed towards the next stop of the day,  Rotorua’s main drawcard, Whakarewarewa (pronounced ‘fah-kah-reh-wah-reh-wah’) which is a geothermal area just south of the city centre. It’s full name is Te Whakarewarewa Tanga o te Ope Taua a Wāhiao, meaning ‘The War Dance of the War Party of Wāhiao’. There are more than 500 springs here, including the Pōhutu geyser. The active area is split between the still-lived-in Māori village of Whakarewarewa and the Te Puia complex, which are separated from each other by a fence. Both places offer cultural performances and geothermal activity galore; the village is cheaper to visit but Te Puia has Pōhutu, a geyser that erupts around 20 times a day, spurting hot water up to 30m skyward. It erupts in tandem with the adjoining Prince of Wales’ Feathers geyser. We had decided to visit Te Puia for a coffee because I had read online that you could in fact see the geyser erupt from the coffee shop, for the price of a tasty coffee.  So not only did we save ourselves $150 we had food, drink and saw Pōhutu go up. Winner winner chicken dinner! Our plan was to see the geyser go up and then go to the Māori village of Whakarewarewa and see the cultural show. That didn’t happen, as it was booked up, apart from the last tour of the day, which we would have made, but would have meant a very late arrival at our final destination.  So, as Si wasn’t mad keen on the idea anyway, and I’ve seen it before we decided to try and book the next tourist attraction. Hobbiton. I love the Lord of the Rings and all things Hobbit so was looking forward to this bit of New Zealand a great deal.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, there were tours available, but unfortunately Mildred needed to give them 48 hours notice before they would let her in. Even after the 48 hrs notice we wouldn’t have been able to see all parts of Hobbiton.  So to my mind I couldn’t see the point in forking out $400 dollars to see very little. Bah humbug, or words that sounded nothing like that at all… 

Onwards and upwards. It was definitely upwards we went! taking the road up the left side (as you look at the map of NZ) of  Lake Rotorua, which is the largest of the district’s 18 lakes. Lo and behold, lurking beneath all that water is a spent volcano no less.  Near the centre of the lake is Mokoia Island, a bird sanctuary that was for centuries occupied by various subtribes of the area.  Passing through Matanata, the home of Hobbiton and turning right at Kopu, just below Thames to Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Hot Water Beach is exactly what it says it is, a patch of thermal water bubbling just beneath the surface of the beach at low tide. Apparently the Beach has achieved “cult-like status“ as a worldwide wonder and it comes in to its own two hours either side of low tide. The hot water brings people in droves, every day, (and nights with a full moon)  industriously digging a small pool or soaking in the rewarding results of theirs or someone else’s earlier efforts.  The water is hot - up to 64 degrees Celsius. Toasty! Today, because I’m a bit wiped out by the pool’s excursion and starting to struggle a bit with the damper autumn nights, we decided we’d wait until the low tide in the morning to experience it. 

Instead we checked into the campsite and as a special bonus for being Top ten members we are entitled to borrow the shovels for free! We decided we’d pick them up in the morning rather than leave them lying around and in the way in the van. Once again, the staff were lovely, couldn’t have been more helpful in providing routes to the beach etc, and locating us near the facilities. Once we’d located our spot we headed into the ‘village’  to see what was happening. The answer - not a blimin lot ! We located a restaraunt and bar so after a very long day for Si again went in for a beer. It looked a nice place for food and the tables overlooking the ocean were all laid up for bookings. Deciding we had enough food in Ismene to keep us going tonight we just stuck to beer. Which was local brew and exceptionally refreshing. Drinking up, we drove the quick 2 minutes to the site, parked up and got food on the go in the large camp kitchen.  Not a bad day at all. VERY long but utterly worth it.

Much Love


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