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Entries about tauranga

In Hot Water!

Wednesday 7th October 2015

sunny 16 °C

Although our time in Tauranga has been fine, and we had an amazing breakfast this morning, I was looking forward to moving on. It is one of the few places on our trip that I probably wouldn't recommend for those on a limited schedule. I was hoping that we could get away early, but a problem with a tour booking meant a phone call and a quick transfer of money and we realised our everyday account was getting low. The journey to Rotoroa was less than two hours so we had planned to stop at some waterfalls en-route. The scenery was lovely once we got out of Tauranga; some steep hills initially and the into farms and orchards. Perhaps not surprisingly kiwi fruit is grown and we went past a Australian style giant advertising kiwi fruit beside the road.

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The majority of the orchards we have seen in New Zealand have had high conifer hedges around them, presumably to protect the delicate blossom and fruit from the wind and frosts, and this area was no exception. We saw a sign for a honey farm/ museum and decided to have a look. The exhibition was led by a guide and ours was very new to her job and quite nervous. The displays were interactive and it was very interesting and we got the feel of what it is like to have lots of bees around you spinning and shaking as they pass messages to their fellow bees. We also got to taste the honey, which was delicious. Our guide told us about the health properties, especially manuka honey and she told me where there was a manuka bush that I could look at.

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There was also a hive we could look into. After our tour we brought some manuka honey, as they said that one of the things it is good for is digestive problems so I thought it might be good for my IBS. Before leaving we bought some savoury muffins for our lunch and then got on our way.

It probably took us another half an hour to reach the Okere Falls. I already knew that these were well known in the area for guided white water rafting and although neither of us were tempted to have a go, it was certainly worth having a look at others doing so. We were lucky as there was a group of rafts going down just after we arrived. The first rapid seemed relatively straightforward and all got down safely. We then walked down to the second fall and this was much narrower and steeper and two out of the three we saw turned over. The guides respond very quickly and seemed to have a well rehearsed routine but it still looked very scary. It appeared that one girl was a bit shaken up having banged herself on another person's helmet (so we heard later).

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We continued walking to where the rafts finish although there were none coming down at that point. We walked back the way we had come and got our car and then drove down the road, back to the bottom of the falls with the intention of eating our lunch. Whilst we were sitting there some more rafts came in. They all looked very exhilarated but there was no opportunity for them to relax as they all had to help get the raft out of the river and back to the trailers.

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Several local people also walked by and stopped. A woman who lives really near was walking two dogs, one of which insisted we throw sticks for him. Some young girls were doing some serious posing and photography and the two boys with them who were probably their brothers wanted to join in and I took a sneaky photo.

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By then it was really time for us to get on our way and finish our journey. It probably took us another twenty minutes or so to get into Rotorua, and we quickly checked in and got shown to our room. It was lovely to have our own space after the bed and breakfasts and particularly nice to have a hot tub on our balcony. We relaxed for a while and then walked to the local park which had lots of areas fenced off due to geothermal activity.

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We relaxed for a while taking advantage of the communal foot baths, which was slightly strange but great for wary feet. We then walked to the supermarket as we needed to get some food. This was much further than we thought and we were pretty tired when we got back to our room. We had a gin and tonic and went in the hot tub before dinner. We ended the day feeling tired but relaxed and chilled out.

Posted by Gill's Travels 21:32 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls rivers rotorua new_zealand geothermal tauranga rafting Comments (0)

Rest and Relaxation in the 'City'

Tuesday 6th October 2015

sunny 24 °C

We went for a continental breakfast this morning as there was a great spread of breads, meat, fruit and toast as well as the offer of a cooked breakfast. I had been feeling a bit miffed last night when we were chucked out of the guest lounge a couple of minutes before the 10pm 'curfew' by our bathrobed host, but they did seem to make a effort to give us good service at breakfast. After we had finished eating we drove across the city (although I would probably call it a large town). Tauranga is quite industrial, with a big container port and lots of gas storage so as you drive through it is not the prettiest of places. It seemed to be a different matter once we got down to Mount Maunganui, as both the hill itself and the beach were really beautiful.

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There are two walks on the Mount, one up to the summit which 232 metres high and the base track which runs round by the water and is 3.4 kilometres in distance. We decided to go for the later. It was a lovely walk with great views and being the school holidays there were lots of people out walking, children clambering on the rocks and in the rock pools, all giving the area a lovely relaxed family feel.

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On our way round we saw a number of young fur seals basking on the rocks and in the rock pools. It probably took us an hour or more to do the walk as we stopped a couple of times to soak up the view. By the time we got back into the town it was lunchtime and so we stopped and had some food before walking across to the beach and onto Moturiki Island which is actually joined to the mainland by the sandy beach. We made the short walk to the end and then sat for a while on the rocks watching young people, perhaps a little recklessly, jumping into the sea.

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Once we had walked back to the beach we sat for a while and I had a paddle. The water was still quite cold although there were quite a number of hardy New Zealanders having a swim. Nigel had arranged to go and have his hair cut so he took me back to our accommodation where I relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. Nigel came back a little while later looking like a new man! Having seen the hubbub of restaurants down by the seafront we decided to go for what we knew and liked and had a meal at the same place that we ate at last night. The food was lovely again, although I caused a bit of a stir when I managed to knock my tall glass of beer over, sending shards of glass everywhere. It was a tragic waste of good beer but the waitress quickly came and cleared it up and after sharing a dessert we went back to the B & B. Interestingly the lounge had all the lights off when we got back so we took the hint and retired straight to our room

Posted by Gill's Travels 14:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hills ocean new_zealand tauranga Comments (0)

Not Everthing that is Gold Glistens!

Monday 5th October 2015

sunny 18 °C

It is time to move on again today; we are leaving Tairua and going to Tauranga, just under 80 miles further south. One of the things we had wanted to do whilst we were in Tairua was walk up Paku Hill from where we had been told there was a great view of the coast. We had another great, if slightly novel breakfast at our bed and breakfast and it was nice to be able to chat to our hosts for a while and to find out a little more about their lives. They told us how they used to live in Taupo where Colin was a farmer and engineer. They sold up and came to the Coromandel for their retirement, and Colin then built their lovely home with a view to running the B & B business. They are now only open for about 5 months during the summer. We were grateful that we got to stay there after our previously booked accommodation passed us on, having decided they wanted to go away themselves. Once we had settled up and checked out we drove the short distance to the hill.

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To make the climb easier we were able to drive about half way up to where there is a car park. The climb is quite steep in places, mostly with inclines and steps but near the top there was a few feet over rocks. We could tell the view was going to be great as we climbed up but it exceeded all our expectations once we got to the very top. It was still a little bit hazy but we had a stunning view of the harbour.

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A man offered to take our picture and I got talking to a lovely New Zealand woman who was there with her husband and children. It became a apparent that this was a place people returned to time and again if they had the opportunity. Once we had taken all the photographs we could find a reason to take, we started the climb back down the hill, with some children scampering down behind us. It really struck me that there is must be a time when one makes the transition from not worrying about falling over to it being a major preoccupation; is this a gradual process or does it happen at a certain age of maturity, I am not quite sure?

Once back at the car, we set our destination on the sat-nav and got on our way. It was lovely to see that a lot of the deciduous trees were coming into leaf; a real sign that Spring is here.

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Colin had also suggested that we stop and take a look at an open cast gold mine at a place called Waihi which was about half way to Tauranga. I had done a bit of research and found out that there was also a new museum dedicated to the mine and the men who worked there. We were able to find the museum quite easily as it was overlooked by a pump house based on the traditional ones found in Cornwall, although this one lacked the romance of English predecessors having been built out of concrete rather than Cornish stone.

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As the museum was celebrating its first year of opening we were able to get in at half price. It was very interactive and good fun. We were able to get involved in a mock drilling and blasting. There was also a great Lego model of a mine that made me think of my son Adam.

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I was staggered to find out that they mine 100,000 ounces of gold and 700,000 ounces of silver a year with a value of 3 million New Zealand dollars a week or over $150 million a year. I worked out that the gold is the equivalent to the weight of 1 small adult a week. Perhaps not surprisingly they won't tell you how they get it out of the town although I did find out that it goes out as a powder and is smelted in Perth, Australia. My theory is a small underground train, but Nigel just keeps laughing at my proposal. Interesting to ponder on!

After we had finished looking around the museum we then went to look at the mine which is massive

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They had a slip on the north wall earlier this year and it looks as though they have suspended mining for the time being whilst further investigations are taking place. Slightly strangely it would appear that the mine was bought a couple of months after the collapse, particularly given it only has a few more years licence left to mine. There was also a great view of the town from the pit rim.

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It had been a really interesting stop, one we were really glad we had made. The rest of the journey was uneventful and not particularly exciting. We were a little disappointed when we arrived at our Tauranga bed and breakfast, as despite its name Seascape it had no sea view. I also came to the conclusion that I dislike the lack of privacy and the sense of intrusion you get from staying in someone else home. The place had great reviews but didn't really do it for us. We promptly changed a couple of our future bookings going instead for hotels/ apartments. In the meantime we tried to make the most of where we were, and a bonus was that we had a lovely meal in a nearby restaurant that evening.

Posted by Gill's Travels 17:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand tauranga gold mine tairua waihi Comments (0)

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