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The Midlands

Week 2 in New Zealand has seen a major change in weather for us. The wet weather we were expecting for this time of year has finally descended upon us. That didn't stop us from exploring as many places the central north has to offer.

The week started in Tauranga at the base of Mt. Maunganui. Torrential rain when we woke up drove us to take a break from the outdoors and go to see Joker in the cinema. What a movie! So dark and well made. The rain continued in Tauranga so we decided to call it a day and make a move to Okere Falls, a small village through which the Kaituna river flows. The next morning we were booked in to raft the Kaituna with Rotorua Rafting. The Kaituna is a short but exciting river to raft that includes Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world! As this was a high water run, the guides were quick to predict there would be a 50/50 chance of flipping the raft at the base of the falls. We went first, Team Awesome with a perfect landing. The second raft wasn't so lucky and they all took a swim! Great fun and would highly recommend for anyone in the area with a few hours to spare.

Tutea Falls on the Kaituna.

Later we moved onto Rotorua. Don't let the smell of sulphur turn you away from here! The earth's crust in this area is thin meaning there are plenty of natural hot springs to swim in and dip your feet in. We took a stroll around the Redwood, Whakarewarewa Forest. Plenty of walking trails to choose from that take you around some huge Californian Coastal Redwoods! The shelter meant it was the perfect rainy day activity.

Waitomo was our next destination in the Central North, famous for its vast underground cave systems that are full of glow worms. We decided to do something a little different here and went black water rafting with Kiwi Cave Rafting. This involved abseiling into a deep cave in the middle of nowhere and tubing down a river in the pitch dark to see the glow worms at their best. They lit the cave up like the night sky. It was like nothing we had ever seen before! Unfortunately we weren't allowed to bring any cameras  on the trip :( After the caving we went for a short walk to see Marokopa Falls. The waterfall was so close to the main road a really beautiful spot. We decided to give Hobbiton a miss due to it being 90 NZD each! Apart from that there wasn't much else we wanted to see or do in the area after the caves so we had a quiet few days.

Marakopa Falls. An incredible find on the roadside!

Next we headed to National Park Village to visit Caoimhe, my sister. National Park Village is really small and is right in the middle of Tongariro National Park at the base of Mt. Ruapehu. Caoimhe has been living here since July working in Schnapps Restaurant and Bar. We decided to spend a couple of days with her in Taupo before properly exploring the mountains. We went to see the famous Huka Falls and the Aratiatia Dam release that is definitely worth seeing! We also hiked up Mt. Tauhara where we got beautiful views from Taupo on one side all the way to Rotorua on the other side. Another visit to natural hot pools was necessary here too, although we could not handle to heat for too long! 

The view from the summit of Mount. Tuahara.

A few chilled out days have been great and necessary as next week we hope to start getting up to see the mountains around Tongariro National Park. If the weather clears up we might finally get to see Mt. Doom! 

Blog by Emer. Photos by Gavin.


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