This will just be a quick post as we are getting ready to go to a beach somewhere. It will be a fun day with all of us :-)
I didn't write last night as by the time I was back at Olaf's and had said goodnight to both he and Tammy it was 11pm and I was totally exhausted. We had a wonderful but long day. It started out at 7am in Taupo - our hotel room had a view out over the lake to the mountains/volcanos at the end of it. The sky was clear at that time of day so we had a good view.
After a quick breakfast (at where else but McD's), we headed a bit further north to Crater's of the Moon - a place with hot springs, steam vents, and mud blooping places. It was a good hour walk in the warm morning sun.
Our next stop was Kuka Falls (thanks for the tip Bjorn). The water was a beautiful turquoise blue and the setting was beautiful (what else!). Finally we were on our way south. We drove around the lake (more beautiful views of the mountains), and then stopped at a pool/mineral bath in Tokaanu where we lingered in the hot mineral bath and then enjoyed the pool.
Somewhere along the line we stopped at a grocery store to pick up groceries for a picnic lunch. And coffees for Kirsten and I.
Driving south we passed through every landscape imaginable. Steep curves, straight bits, forest, desert, areas like around Medicine Hat. It was beautiful. Along one stretch we could see good views of the big mountain/volcano, and also the volcano that Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings was modelled after. We just don't get sights like this around home!
We made it through the desert area and past the military land and found a picnic area with a lovely view. We stuffed ourselves on salads, crusty bread and dips and then continued down the road.
This section of road had a deep gorge on one side, with sheer cliffs. There were the odd house or barn perched on the edges - one wonders if they might just disappear off the edge one day :-0
Another stop was a playground with equipment that wouldn't be allowed in Canada! I tried out a few of the things, but made sure Kirsten knew where to find my medical card ;-) They weren't that bad! One was called the flying fox where you "sat" on a little disk and then flew down the slope. (okay, flew is a huge exaggeration, but it was fun!).
After driving and driving some more we made it back to Kirsten's farm just as the clock struck 8. That was a 12 hour day of travelling, we were all exhausted, but Kirsten was just beat. She did a good job of driving us those 980+km!
Olaf came and picked me up in his batmobile (some kind of low black sporty car which he was careful not to freak me out on the Makara road, and possibly even had less motion sickness...) . We all (Kirsten, Shawn, Olaf and I) had a quick visit and then I was back in my town bedroom!
I'll post some photos tonight.