We were headed to Rotorua and then I picked up the Guide and changed direction a little towards Coromandel Bay and were not disappointed, blue green seas met coral covered rocks and trees with roots pulling out from the bank to dip toes into the sea. On route we discovered a closed antique store and passed across an ancient iron bridge meant for half a car. Breathe in.
We took a little break at Bugger Cafe for a welcome break and spent much of the time looking at photos depicting one pickle or another to pass the time. On the counter was a jar of red sweets labelled “If you’re a Jaffa, help yourself to a Jaffa” with kids helping themselves to one when leaving. I commented that maybe Jaffa meant good in some way…. nope. Jaffa is short for ”from Auckland”. Do pop to their website at www.buggercafe.co.nz (unsure if this will blocked by work firewalls though).
We have picked up a phone - just need to register it and work out the number. Will be good for emergencies especially when we hit the south island. Looking up the going rates for calling home.. tis about a pound a minute.
The roads are less motorway than I was expecting and more wavy, as they skip across hills. My stomach kept pace for a few hours. I am convinced we saw a kiwi bird as ALL cars stopped for it as it skittered/waddled/hopped across the road. Another couple of birds danced in front of the car and they were the brightest red/green and blue I have ever seen - that is going to remain a puzzle for a while. If anyone can shed light on what this could have been, do let me know. The fauna and flora here in New Zealand is diverse, most gardens and fields are chock full of different types of trees… some look like they have been planed upside down, others bright pink (my favourite). We spotted ancient wide trees that would take a group of people to hug.
30 mins near to our destination for the night we needed to rest and grab a late lunch and the omelette didn’t disappoint. The cafe also played host to chickens, birds and a stonkingly happy donkey called Barney. Matt surprised me with bags of food. Barney had two goats for company and one was called Pig who tried to climb out of the fence to get the food. Now I know why they called him Pig. Patient Barney got his share but between them my hands turned a gippy colour. Scrubbed hands twice while chatting to a German tourist, and sharing my story of growing up in her part of the world. She must have told all the others as they all were then waving goodbye as our car pulled away.
As a side note, this area of NZ is mainly cows…sooooo many cows. I have only spotted a handful of sheep.
We are now in Rotarua. Approaching the town I suggested we stay a second night but honestly the stink can peel paint off the wall. I am not sure I can last an hour never mind two nights. I fear it has embedded itself into my DNA and I will be called The Stinky One. You may think I am being a little dramatic - but I am holding back. Dramatic would be Swamp Monster. The hotel have upgraded us but that just means there is more room for the smell to fill. Across from the hotel in the Gardens host bus fulls of tourists laden with selfie sticks taking quirky pics amongst flowers. The Gardens also host the Prince’s Gate Arches which were designed to represent the royal crown, they were erected in 1901 to honour the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York who later became King George V and Queen Mary. These are wooden structures that have survived and now grace the entrance to the Gardens along with carved warriors. At the side of the garden is the Rachel Pool where the temperature of the spring reaches 212 degrees and is a giant boiling pit with waves of steamy rotten egg that feeds many of the vaulted steam baths surrounding it. There is no escape.
We explored the little town and chatted to friendly people whilst picking up stamps and postcards and headed back to the hotel to fill them in. Matt debated whether they would arrive home before us.
Tomorrow we head south towards Taupo.