26 January 2020 – from Rotorua to Taupo with plenty of geothermal fun!

It was our last morning in Rotorua and the kids blessed us with a sleep in until at least 7.30am, almost a miracle! The Airbnb house was fabulous for size and location but it was rather hot until the wee hours of the morning, making sleeping in ideal as it was the coolest bit of the day. Yes 7.30am is a sleep in!

After using up our left-over brekky supplies so we didn’t have to transport them, I took the kids out for a wander down the street while Anto finished the last of the packing and tidying kid-free. The Airbnb was on a street that backed onto Lake Rotorua and was full of houses with lovely gardens.

As we wandered up and down the street we saw a very large pet rabbit jumping around the gardens so spent some time trying to find him for a pat, but he didn’t seem keen, so off to the lake we went instead!

It was another beautiful day, check out the views!

With the car packed, and house left in a reasonable state, we were the car and ready for our drive to Taupo, with some sight-seeing along the way. It was 10am by the time we left Rotorua and we stopped through town for a take away coffee in our keep cups before the onward journey. Being nap time for Miss Zinnia, we hoped she’d quickly succumb to the sleep gods, but she didn’t and decided to treat us to some delightful squealing!

The first stop was to be Kerosene Creek, a thermal creek we’d hoped to visit the day before but we’d skipped in favour of another trip to Kuirau Park. Since Kerosene Creek was pretty much on today’s driving route anyway, minimising time in the car with Miss squeal-a-lot. Squeal she did, the whole half an hour to Kerosene Creek.

As we turned off onto the gravel road that was to take us to the creek we spotted this very green pond……. Yes the water was meant to be that colour, another colourful New Zealand waterway!

It was now 11am and Zinnia hadn’t managed to nap, and when we arrived at the parking area for Kerosene Creek it appeared it was a popular spot that morning. Despite it being off the beaten track there were plenty of cars and tourists. There was no changing area and only 1 public toilet that was constantly in use for changing, so a quick change in the car and we picked our way down the muddy track to the creek.

The water was indeed on the warm side, it was like a very hot bath! The kids immediately went bright red from the heat and we were all sweaty. Those red cheeks and glowing faces in the photos were the extremely warm water, some bits warmer than others!

Poor Zinnia both wanted to be in to enjoy her swim, and out because it was quite warm. We just can’t win with New Zealand water temperatures, it’s mostly been too cold except when it’s thermal and we have the opposite problem. Anto, lover of extremely hot water, would have laid around all day enjoying the thermal delights but got to wade up and down with the kids trying to find the best spot.

Every now and then a load of tourists would turn up, mostly to hang around in the warm water. However, the odd mini-van of very, over-dressed for the occasion, Japanese tourists in heels and silk shirts would traipse through the mud to see the other people soaking in water. We did wander down to see the water fall (also thermal) but it was a hard to get the kids in and out of that area, and it was much busier with tourists, so we stuck to our upper bit of the creek that was shallower and quieter.

After the kids and I declared ourselves thoroughly cooked, it was time to head back to the car to get back into real clothes. We were all a bit red, sweaty and muddy by the time we escaped but it was a fun and free place to check out the some New Zealand geothermal delights.

Back in dry clothes, and an air-conditioned car, and we set off for our lunch stop, the Heli Cafe (Kefi at the Hub), not far from Taupo. It was a 40 minute drive and of course, Miss Z no-sleep finally fell asleep 20 minutes before we hit the cafe. Not to worry, she is always in a good mood when food is on offer, and Soren, lover of helicopters was in heaven!

The cafe had an old sikorsky helicopter in the grounds that you can walk in, so the kids were in heaven. We did actually pick the cafe because of the good food reviews but we figured the helicopter was a bonus. True to the reviews, the food was indeed pretty good. Soren had fish and chips, Astrid chose a caprese salad. I had a spanadilla (tortilla with spinach, feta and a greek salad) which was amazing…… and Anto feasted on a venison tostada. A great find for lunch, with Zinnia sampling everything!

After lunch Zinnia found the rocking sheep inside the cafe, much to her utter delight!

It was rather hot and bright outside and a rest sounded appealing. Unfortunately it was still quite awhile til our check in time for our next Airbnb so we figured we’d best make use of the time as there is only so much food you can eat hiding in cafes.

Next on the agenda was a visit to the ‘Craters of the Moon‘ which was not far from our lunch stop, being only a 5 minute drive down the road. It was now over 30 degrees apparent temperature, and the staff at the Craters of the Moon ticket office were melting as they were giving us our walking map. They concluded that being from Australia we would survive the heat, but they did give us a large umbrella to help shade Zinnia as we walked around, which was extremely thoughtful of them.

With more sunscreen applied, and Zinnia in the ergo, we set off for our walk around. As Zinnia had only managed 20 minutes sleep for the day we hoped she’d nap in the ergo as we walked. She had other ideas however!

Soren and Astrid were consulting the maps, but with plenty of boardwalks and signposting it wasn’t too hard to know where we were going. The main loop was listed as a 40 minute walk and the staff (and map) had indicated there is an additional ‘upper walkway’ which adds 20 minutes to the loop taking you to a lookout, via some stairs. The helpful staff had indicated that there was another lookout spot partway up that was almost as good and would save us time in the heat.

We set out on the walkways in the main loop and decided to see how we’d go with the heat!

The boardwalk was an easy stroll for the most part. Some people even had prams. Compared to the geothermal mud fields we’d walked in Iceland this was a doddle, and much cleaner on the shoes! Also, unlike Iceland there was plenty of vegetation, not just bare earth.

Also unlike Iceland there were safety fences and danger signs. In Iceland they just assume you or your kids won’t walk into a boiling pit of mud. Kiwis are much more keen on stopping you.

As we wandered around the different craters we found plenty of boiling mud and steam. If the air temperature wasn’t making it hot enough we found the steamy bits even hotter. The bright sunshine and hot temperatures meant we were burning through our water pretty quickly but the umbrella was proving handy for shade, the only problem being that both older kids were wanting to also be under it!

Not only were some of the steam vents impressive to look at, they were often quite noisy!

We climbed up the lower lookout to see over the whole geothermal field, but didn’t do the entire upper loop given the heat. The kids legs were fine but we were all melting, and Zinnia was stubbornly refusing to sleep!

The last section was quite scenic and had plenty of interesting vegetation to distract us from the heat.

All in all it was one of the better geothermal fields we’d been to, and quite reasonably priced too ($20 NZ for the whole family). A little cooler day would have made it better, but it was still cooler than back home in Canberra!

We arrived back at the ticket office by 2.40pm and all enjoyed their air conditioning while purchasing some cool drinks and souvenirs. With a little time still to kill before our Airbnb check in we headed into town to find a supermarket for supplies. Since the kids had been pretty good and we were all hot and thirsty we found a cafe for cool drinks and yummy icecreams. Zinnia was super happy at scoring yet more icecream, completely undeserved given she’d not slept other than her 20 minute car nap earlier in the day!

Finally it was check in time for our Airbnb, which was again huge and although having some lovely 70s decor, also had air conditioning and to the big kids delight an arcade game!

While they were a bit confused about the old fashioned graphics at first, much fun was had in the cool, with space to run around for Zinnia. After an early dinner of chicken and salad, Zinnia collapsed in her cot, tired after a day of non-sleep. Before being banished too bed the big kids and Anto played arcade games, and were confused why Dad knew all these games from the ‘olden days’.

Daily statistics

The temperature range for Sunday the 26th of January 2020 in Rotorua and Taupo was 13 to 30 degrees Celsius, definitely a warm Summer’s day! Our total walking for the day was 8.0km, a fair effort in the hot sun.

The total driving for the day was just under 90km, taking us from Rotorua to Taupo, via various stops and activities.

Up next…..

A full day exploring Taupo in the beautiful Summer sunshine, with plenty of activity centred around Lake Taupo. We had one of the best experiences of the trip with a lunch sailing outing, with pizza, sunshine, swimming and baby ducks!

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