Today we started out by going to Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Cultural Center and Geothermal area.
We did the Cultural Show first. It was a welcoming ceremony as well as some of the traditional dances. It lasted 45 minutes. Interestingly, before we went in to the meeting house, we had to remove our shoes (and leave them outside) and remove hats. But, we could take flash photography and video during the performance to our heart's content! THAT wouldn't happen at home!
After the show, we took ourselves on the tour of the geothermal stuff. There were geysers, bubbling mud pools, steaming vents (with that sulphur smell) and thermal springs. It was all pretty cool--or should I say, HOT! We finally got to see a couple of Kiwi birds in the "Kiwi House". They are much bigger than I thought--about the size of a bowling ball.
We also went through the Carving school and the Weaving school. Te Puia is an active school for Maori Carvers and Weavers.
After we had seen everything, we spent a little time in the gift shop. By then it was about noon. We still had 80 km to ride to get to Taupo. We returned to the bikes and had a little snack before we hit the road.
Today was pretty much a straight shot down SH 5. After leaving Rotorua, I noticed a bike path running parallel to SH 5. We hopped on that and rode for about 10 km. It was great! It looked to be pretty new.
As we continued to work our way toward Taupo, we were battling a pretty bad headwind. I didn't even wear my Da Brim as I would have been blown all over the road.
We had about 16 or so km of climbing, but not too steep. Then we had a lovely downhill! Our little snack had disappeared so we stopped at Lake Ngahewa Recreation Area to eat some more. We had peanutbutter and Nutella sandwiches.
Just after we pulled back out onto the road, we met Jurgen, a German cyclist headed north. He told us we should go to the Thermal Wonderland just down the road. The only problem was that we still had quite aways to go and it was already almost 4:00. We didn't end up seeing the wonderland.
We kept pedaling against the wind, still planning on getting to Taupo. We also wanted to stop at Huka Falls. When we got to Golden Springs I noticed a Holiday Park with tent sites. Leandra and I concluded that since it was already 5:00, and we had another long climb, that we would stay here tonight instead of getting to Taupo. This holiday park even has a special spot for cyclists! AND, it has a thermal stream with a couple of warm pools! We set up our stuff and went for a soak in one of the pools. It was HEAVEN!
After showering, we went up to the kitchen to cook dinner. Earlier, when we first arrived, we saw Tatsi's friend Tilman. Then we saw Tatsi. They were here tonight too! a very nice couple from Vancouver, BC are here too. Tatsi, Bruce and Jane and Leandra and I all fixed our dinner at the same time. Then we chatted for awhile. Tatsi downloaded some photos he took of us yesterday onto my SD card!
It was a great evening! Now I must go to bed. We must make up tomorrow the distance we didn't do today. Hopefully, I can get some wifi and publish this and the last few posts.
Here's some photos from Te Puia, the ride and Holiday Park.