Let’s step back a week to the time after we picked up the campervan in Rotorua and before we got to the Kapiti Coast. This was the exploration of the thermal area in New Zealand. One of the reasons I’ve been fascinated with New Zealand and wanted to visit is that there are volcanoes to glaciers in two small islands (not to mention all the beautiful sea coasts and mountains and other natural marvels in between).

Walking in Rotorua, there are spots like this venting steam from the ground.

We stopped to see things like this boiling mud pit. A picture can hardly capture the bubbles bursting to the top as the mud spits and hisses. I was happy not to get too close. Here it looks more like the moon, but believe me it is hot!

Here we are in this amazing hot pool out in the middle of the country – surrounded by pastures. We got a tip from a fellow traveler and the Wiki Camps New Zealand app. We were the only ones there so we had this beautiful hot pool all to ourselves.

Paul going over the finer points of the difference between a gold  Pluto Platter (50th anniversary edition), a red fastback and a Cool Planet Leopard golf disc with the staff at the Top Ten Blue Lake Holiday Parks where we were looking up the location of the Rotorua Disc Golf Course. Later that afternoon Mindy and I found the course in the middle of a dog park and a Redwood Forest – yes, giant California Redwoods. The course was so hidden and unused that the chain holes had cobwebs, pine needles and forest film all over the hole….it was like finding a jewel hidden in the sand.

Next we made our way to Tongariro National Park and spent a day hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. When we bought our tickets, the weather forecast was for clouds and rain, but we decided to take our chances and do it anyway. Good luck was on our side and it turned out to be a beautiful day for a challenging walk with absolutely breathtaking views.


The natural landscape could not have been put together better by the most talented landscape artist. Our walk began already above the tree line and the climb continued from there. Up across the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe (made famous in the Lord of the Rings film series as Mount Doom). Then climbing still higher to the Red Crater then down to the emerald lakes and then down and down and down and down until finally entering the tree line again – at which point we were racing to catch the last shuttle bus and barely got to enjoy the view and the cool shade of trees.