Driving To Rotorua, New Zealand

Driving To Rotorua, New Zealand

“There came a time, he realized, when the strangeness of everything made it increasingly difficult to realize the strangeness of anything. “James Hilton, Lost Horizon

In theory, a road trip sounds very appealing. A road trip through New Zealand sounds really cool. Since I get carsick, I don’t have much road trip experience.  I was willing to give it a go to see New Zealand.

An hour and a half out of Auckland is the Karangahake Gorge. It is a great place to go walking and I wish I had spent more time there. There are hard walks, bush walks, easy walks, abandoned mines, railroad tunnels (bring a torch because they are dark and long), river walks and waterfalls. It is a hike (or tramp as they say in New Zealand) through history and nature at its best.

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You start by crossing a big swing bridge. It is always fun crossing a big swing bridge.

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In 1885 it was a prosperous goldmine. By 1920, the gold had run out and there are remnants of the machinery and buildings of a century ago.

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There are mining tunnels that you can explore built into the mountain but you should bring better light than just the torch on your iPhone. We found the train tunnel.

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It was dark, wet and the ground is uneven. I found it mildly frightening because you can’t see a way out.

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At first, it was adventurous using my iPhone torch to hike but it went on for a little too long for me.  I decided to retrace my steps and go walk by the river and find the waterfalls instead.

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We continue on to Rotorua. When early missionaries to the shores of Rotorua stumbled upon the great sprays of water that shoot into the air and the pools of bubbling, boiling mud, they must have thought they were getting a glimpse at the fires of hell itself – a view undoubtedly reinforced by what seems like the stench of rotten eggs that fills the region.

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Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland. There is a strong Maori presence in Rotorua. They saw themselves as the guardians of these lands.

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We go directly to the Hot Spring Pools which are located in Manupirua Bay on Lake Rotoiti. It is only accessible by boat.

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The boat is beautiful and completely refurbished  with an expert crew of women. The captain was pregnant. http://www.purecruise.co.nz

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There are different mineral-rich outdoor pools to soak in. These are fed by a natural spring and vary in heat temperature. They are just meters from the very cold lake edge. It is good to jump in a cold lake to get the sulfur off and close your pores.

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The next morning I opted for a mud bath and massage. How could you not go to a spa called Hell’s Gate? Hell’s Gate is the only Maori owned geothermal park in New Zealand. The English name came from the playwright George Bernard Shaw who visited in the early nineteen hundreds. He said that he was sure this must be the gateway to hell that his colleagues said he would pass through as long as he remained an atheist. The Maori kept the name. http://www.hellsgate.co.nz/

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It is owned by the Ngati Rangiteaorere tribe of Maori who have lived on this special site for over 700 years. It is on a volcanic plateau.

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You start with a walk through the mud pools, erupting geysers and hot springs.

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The signs tell the Maori myths and stories of those pools.

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It takes about forty-five minutes to do the walk.

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I was kind of in awe of the special landscape.

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I went on to the mud bath where I was given a container of mud to cover myself with. (sorry no photos)

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After twenty minutes, you rinse off in cold water and go into the sulfur pools, followed by a massage. Yes, your pores will exude sulfur for the next twenty-four hours from the mud but your skin will be very smooth and the area smells of rotten eggs anyway so no one will notice. It was the best mud bath experience I have ever had and highly recommend it.

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Volcanic activity over thousands of years created large craters that filled with water to form the  lakes throughout the Rotorua region. They are steeped in Maori history.  (Lake Tikitapu- Blue Lake)

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The geothermal theme park of Wai-O-Tapu is about 20 minutes’ drive south of Rotorua,. It is a Maori word and means sacred waters.

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Walking routes around the park take you past bubbling mud, sulphur waterfalls, exploding geysers, giant fern trees, steaming vents and lakes in neon oranges, yellows and greens.

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They are given their color by mineral deposits.

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The  lagoons fizz with steam and orange ,gold and green fluorescent bubbles.

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The park takes on a surreal, dream like quality. I shoot too many photos to remember the strange beauty of it all.

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Fly safe,
JAZ

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Things I Have Learned In Dublin, Ireland

Things I Have Learned In Dublin, Ireland

“I live in Ireland every day in a drizzly dream of a Dublin walk” John Geddes

 Dublin was founded by Vikings, who settled in what they called the “Norse Kingdom of Dublin” in the 9th century.

The average temperature in January in Dublin is 41°F and in July, it is 63°F.  It is estimated that fifty per cent of the city’s residents are under twenty-five years old. Dublin has the youngest population in Europe. My advice is dress warmly and be ready to party. (St Stephens Green)

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Dublin houses Ireland’s National Treasure which is the Book Of Kells sacred manuscript created by Celtic Monks in about 800 AD which features the Four Gospels of the New Testament. It is decorated with metallic gold Celtic style writing and symbols and stunning artwork. This sacred Book of Kells can be found in the Trinity College Library in Dublin.

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In 1759 Arthur Guinness made the deal of his life.  He leased a brewery in the center of Dublin for 45 pounds annual rent and took it for 9,000 years!  It is now where the most famous Irish alcoholic drink is made.  Ten million glasses of Guinness are produced daily all around the world. Dubliners love beer, they drink 9800 pints every hour between 5:50 pm on Friday and around 3 am the following Monday.  Also a donation to the Blood Bank in Dublin is paid with a pint of Guinness since it is recommended to replace the iron lost during the donation.

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Soccer is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen. Rugby is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans.

In 1816 this  bridge opened  to any Dubliner willing to pay a ha’penny, the exact price of the then redundant ferry  to William Walsh, ferry owner and alderman of the city. He retired his leaking ferries and was compensated with £3,000 and the bridge lease for one hundred years. (Ha Penny Bridge)

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Dublin Writers Museum is a must visit if you are into literature and writing, or if you want to understand Dublin’s literary heritage. You get a truer understanding of Ireland if you get  to know its writers.There are two main museum rooms. Room one traces the roots of Irish poetry and storytelling, and it showcases writers with international status such as Swift, Goldsmith, Sheridan, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde.  Room two deals with writers such as Yeats, Synge, James Joyce, Sean O’ Casey, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker Frank O’ Connor, Brendan Behan and many more.

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The title of Bram Stoker’s book “Dracula” is said to come from the Irish words “Droch Ola” meaning bad blood..

Christ Church was famous for the first performance of Handel’s Messiah.

The Abbey Theatre was founded as The National Theatre Of Ireland in 1904 by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory.  Its goal  was “to bring upon the stage the deeper emotions of Ireland.” and that is still true today.

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The oldest pub in Ireland is called the Brazen Head and is in Dublin .

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Temple Bar is one of the oldest areas in Dublin. The modern street pattern of Temple Bar is based on the medieval plan of the Old Viking City.  Today Temple Bar has many newer arts venues, cool boutiques and galleries, restaurants,bars,  award winning cultural and residential buildings. Temple Bar is home to one of Europe’s oldest built theatres (Smock Alley Theatre), one of Ireland’s smallest theatres (The New Theatre), one of the best examples of a Victorian theatre (The Olympia) and one of Ireland’s best know modern theatre spaces and arts centres (Project Arts Centre)

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After Francis Bacon’s death his studio was moved to the Hugh Lane Gallery. You look through a  window at the 7,000 items they shifted: a huge easel, piles of paints, jars, brushes, rags, pots, books, photos, towels and empty boxes of Krug Champagne. A fantastic sight.

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Built between 1220 and 1260  St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the few buildings left from the medieval city of Dublin. Today St Patricks is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland and is still the largest cathedral in Ireland. Its most famous Dean  Jonathan Swift  is one of around 700 burials here.

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Many of U2’s back catalogue of albums were recorded in their home city. Windmill Lane Studios was the place where U2 recorded their early work and first three albums. The site at Windmill Lane Studios is covered in graffiti from fans that have paid pilgrimage from all over the world and is known as the “U2 Wall.”

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Dublin is a city of storytellers. Everyone has a story to tell.  If you happen to be in a pub telling a story, chances are there will be someone there who knows someone in it. So be careful with your facts and if you embellish, disguise your characters well. And if you don’t know any stories, you will by the time you leave.

Fly safe,
JAZ