It’s really all my own fault.
If I’d stuck to Plan A, I’d have arrived in New Zealand in fifteen months’ time, in the middle of summer. As it is, I’m stuck with spring, which means the same as at home: entirely unpredictable weather which can change several times a day. What a difference from the US, where the only real question was ‘will it be hot today, or very hot?’
It was bucketing down when I crawled out of my pit this morning, ready to get on the bike and head off to Lake Taupo. And local opinion and the weather forecast agreed that it was going to stay wet all day. I rate local advice. I went back to bed. I’m not in that much of a hurry, anyway. Needless to say, it was dry by half-past eleven, and this afternoon was perfect cycling weather. Doh!
Still, tomorrow looks nice (which presumably means hail and thunder by breakfast time), and at least I can fill you in on Rotorua in the meantime.
I used my planned rest day yesterday (obviously in dazzling sunshine) to visit Te Puia, which is only a couple of miles out of town. Basically, you stroll out past the pristine racecourse, the famous chip shop, and a thousand motels, and into the charming green countryside. And then you’re suddenly confronted by a huge park full of boiling mud and sulphurous moonscapes.
The park has a lot of Maori cultural stuff going on, which is really interesting. But for me, the highlight was the Pohutu geyser, which is absolutely spectacular. The shot below has some tiny people on the left of the picture to show the size; steam is nearly as difficult to scale on photos as the Grand Canyon…
As earlier posts have probably indicated, I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with my uncanny ability to avoid seeing any interesting wildlife (alive, at least; the road-kill count is epic). Fortunately, the domed structure behind the statue (below) had an enclosed, and extremely dark, habitat for a Kiwi inside. Even without my wildlife-avoidance skills, I’d struggle to see one of these shy, nocturnal birds. But with one trapped in a concrete dome, even I couldn’t miss.
Knowing my luck, the wildlife drought will end suddenly in Australia, where pretty much every creature is out to kill you. In the meantime, I’m increasingly thinking of going to a decent zoo, and faking sightings of all the animals I should have seen. As far as New Zealand’s concerned, this slightly aggressive-looking black swan (or possibly a black swan with a sore neck; how could I know?) is as good as it’s got so far. And he shot off as soon as I saw him…
Assuming the weather forecast for Tuesday is a tad more accurate than today’s, I’m back on the road south. Lake Taupo, then the big hills before Whanganui on the coast, which I need to reach to hit my mandatory pair of antipodal points. I’ll leave the insanely boring explanation of what an antipodal point is, and why a pair is mandatory, for later.
I can tell the suspense is killing you, and I’m sorry. But I might need the ammunition if the weather turns again. Which, I’m afraid, it almost certainly will…