The Buried Village of Te Wairoa

Mt Tarawera erupted in the early hours of the morning of 10th June 1886 followed by the explosion of Lake Rotomahana which buried Te Wairoa village under a blanket of mud nearly 2 metres deep.  Around 150 lives were lost.


A walk around the popular archaeological site reveals parts of the excavated village which lay undiscovered for around 130 years.  Several of the houses have had their entrances dug out and you can go inside, which gives a good idea as to how deeply they were buried in mud.


Scenic paths lead to the Waterfall trail where we descended 117 steps to stand beside Wairere Falls, very impressive.  Some of the steps were carved out of rock and quite steep but we took our time as we were walking right next to the waterfall and they were slippery with moss and spray.  We stopped often just to take in the beauty of our surroundings and glimpses of Lake Tarawera.



The Te Wairoa Stream where trout swim in season





Only 100 more steps to the top …… and a coffee break!!!

There is a very informative museum with various items discovered during the excavation and you can learn about the fate of the pink and white terraces, a natural landmark, popular with tourists in the day and completely destroyed in one of New Zealand’s greatest natural disasters.

Lunch at the café was a nice finish to a very enjoyable morning.  I highly recommend a visit.






The Gods Were So Angry That They Made The Lake Boil


Rotorua is a place of myths and legends and we enjoyed hearing some of them whilst we travelled around, as a way of understanding the local way of life.  Here is a legend about the boiling lake in the local public park.  In case the writing on the sign is hard to read, it basically goes like this:

Back when the lake was cool enough to bathe in, it was called Lake Tawakahu and a beautiful young lady named Kuirau used to swim there.  Kuirau’s husband said that the lake belonged to her, but a large Taniwha (sea monster) lived in this lake and one day seized her.  It’s not known whether she died of fright or was taken back to Taniwha’s lair, but she was never seen again.  The Gods were so angry that they made the lake boil to get rid of the Taniwha.  

From that day on, the lake was called Lake Kuirau in memory of the beautiful lady who used to swim in its waters.


On our first day in New Zealand, we were driving around Rotorua with the intention of stocking up at the supermarket, when our attention was drawn to steam rising from the park.   This was Kuirau Park, a free site where you can stroll along the boardwalk quite close to the steaming, hissing, bubbling activity, located surprisingly close to the city centre.



As we were driving off, we noticed steam rising from a few backyards nearby and steam puffs from gutter drains on the edge of the road.  A very unusual sight.

Rotorua, New Zealand


A few weeks ago we spent a very enjoyable week in New Zealand.  We chose Rotorua as our base, situated in the North Island on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua and a 3 hour drive from Auckland.  Rotorua is a major tourist destination mainly due to the amazing geothermal activity, with geysers and mud pools located in and around the town.

I love New Zealand – the majestic lakes, hot springs, friendly people, lovely green rolling hills and rain!  Such a change from Australia with everything so dry and brown at the moment.  It rained at some stage every day of our stay, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm and I was glad that I remembered to pack us each an umbrella.



We stayed here off-season, so I was able to enjoy watching the little black ducks in the canal rather than boats!

Let me tell you about our accommodation.  We belong to a timeshare company, WorldMark, which has resorts all over the world, so it wasn’t by chance that we stayed at the Ramada Resort Rotorua Marama;  chalet type accommodation on the edge of a boat canal with Lake Rotorua on the other side.  It was very comfortable and spacious, fully self contained with 3 bedrooms (why not, we had credits to spare!).  Our level of membership also covered free movies and wi fi, always a bonus on holidays.


I was a bit wary of the two resident black swans when they started to follow me up and down the boardwalk, but they were very friendly.  I think they were hoping I was bringing some food!



Such beautiful, spacious grounds right on the lake.  We didn’t have far to go in order to admire the scenery.

Not a lot a lot going on in Rotorua itself, but luckily we had made arrangements to pick up a rental car at the airport, and with the help of the sat nav, had no trouble finding our way around,  exploring the beautiful countryside and visiting some very interesting places.  More on those later.










Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Fri, August 30

Bay of Islands is a tender port, so we were a bit worried that either the wind might pick up or the sea become rough, which would mean not stopping there. Luckily, we need not have been concerned, as we awoke to a nice fine day and it was not long before we dropped anchor and the ship’s tender boat transferred us to Waitangi Wharf.

Our half-day tour began by taking us on a 45 minute drive to the oldest stone building, the Stone Store and Kemp House, New Zealand’s oldest surviving house built of kauri. On the way we saw the grounds where the Waitangi Treaty was signed.

Next stop was Puketi Forest for a guided walk on a boardwalk to marvel at the massive kauri trees. When the old trees fall, we were told that this timber does not decay and one particular tree that had fallen in the forest provided enough timber for 10 houses. It was a wonderful experience to get up close and personal with these massive trees that are over 1200 years old.

Our next destination was to the town of Kawakawa where we had some free time to sample the driver’s recommendation of doughnuts and cream (no hole in these doughnuts) which were excellent. It was only a short stroll from the bakery to what the town is best known for – believe me, we were very surprised to find that toilets could be a tourist attraction. Nevertheless we did find out some interesting information about this little town.

Kawakawa’s most productive years were in the 1800’s as a coal-mining town and for most of the twentieth century it had large meat and dairy processing plants, providing many jobs. However in recent years with industry restructure, many people lost their jobs but with the creation of the Hundertwasser Park Trust, this town is now getting a new lease of life…. all due to the public toilets!!!

Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) was born in Austria, and became New Zealand’s adopted son; internationally regarded architect and ecologist. He lived near Kawakawa for 25 years and was commissioned to design and build the public toilets in the town’s main street. He used local labour and talent, bricks from local buildings and the windows were constructed using old bottles from the district.
The result is quite eye-catching with the light shining through the glass, internal mosaic walls and garden on the roof.

Last but not least was our final destination, the Kawiti Glow-worm Caves. We were taken on a guided walk on a boardwalk through the caves where we saw a galaxy of glow-worm lights, impressive limestone walls and magnificent delicate stalactites and stalagmites. When the lamps went out it was magic to see all the little lights above our heads as we stood in total darkness; the only sound to be heard was the stream rushing over the rocks beneath our feet and the feel of an occasional drip of icy water on my face as I looked up! Of course we could not take photos of the glow-worms, but it will be yet another lovely memory from our trip.

We are so glad we had the opportunity to visit the Bay of Islands, such beautiful scenery of the coastline and the mountains and thickly forested areas vying with emerald green fields dotted with dairy cattle and sheep.

Sadly, this was our final destination and we have reluctantly started to pack – next stop in two days time: Sydney.

But this is not the end – watch this space

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The stone store

The stone store

A walk in the forest

A walk in the forest

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Hundertwasser Toilets

Hundertwasser Toilets

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Entering the glow worm caves

Entering the glow worm caves

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Auckland, New Zealand

Thu, August 29

Auckland – City of Sails – so named because of its large harbour holding hundreds of yachts. Princess Wharf was a familiar sight from a previous visit a few years ago when we explored the city and the Maritime Museum.

This time we decided to take the ferry to Devonport; unfortunately the weather caught up with us at last and it was quite a shock to go from barmy, warm Fiji to cold and rainy Auckland! Anyway, amidst grey skies and gusts of wind, we made our way out of the terminal from downtown Auckland onto the ferry, and in 10 short minutes we were in the heart of this historic seaside village which we immediately fell in love with.

There was a minibus waiting for us for a one hour commentated tour around the main sights, including North Head where we were able to take in the spectacular city and harbour views in spite of showers of rain. We also walked through one of the many tunnels, started at the end of the 19th century in response to the Russian threat and extended during WWI and WWII. Gun embankments and bunkers are still evident. We then drove up to Mt Victoria where we also had great views (in between the showers of rain!)

As we made our way back around the bay, we were amazed to see a school of dolphins – unfortunately it was raining at the time and we weren’t able to get photos from the bus.

Once back in the main street, we stopped to warm up with a coffee before starting to explore the many galleries, displaying oils and watercolours, glass, ceramics and jewellery. One gallery in particular caught our eye, and that was the Peter Raos Gallery containing many lovely original pieces of art glass. Website – We loved the charming mix of cafes and shops situated in mostly old heritage buildings, and when I found two little shops, one with yarn and the other with patchwork fabrics, my day was nearly complete. There was just one more stop to make……

As we walked on, admiring Devonport’s collection of many late 19th century villas, the sun came out and just around the corner we came across the Chocolate Factory – and free samples! The owner explained how the family business came about 20 years ago and we spent some time watching the chocolates being through the viewing window, before making our way back to the ferry.

Once back in Auckland, we found a Thai restaurant for lunch – and we timed it well, as half-way through our meal the weather changed once again and there was a brief hailstorm! By the time we had finished lunch and explored a few more shops, the sun was out again with patches of blue sky. We thought Melbourne was the place that had four seasons in one day – now we know that Auckland is a definite contender for the title!

I must admit it was nice to get back on board at this point into our air conditioned comfort zone. After 3 months of summer weather, the sudden drop in temperature to 13oC was a shock to the system. However, we had a very enjoyable day exploring Devonport – Auckland’s crown jewel.

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North Head tunnel

North Head tunnel

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Cushla's Village Fabrics

Cushla’s Village Fabrics



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The Chocolate Factory

The Chocolate Factory



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