Rotorua, North Island....New Zealand (Part 1)

Hey...did you think I'd gone missing in action? 
I know it's been some time since my last post but we've been busy checking out some great places for you.
And so we reluctantly wave goodbye to Whangamata on the Coromandel Peninsula ...and those views!

 (This view was from the cliff top of Cathedral Cove)

Yet again en-route we were privileged to spectacular sights that took our breath away...
We drove south towards the centre of the North Island and onto Rotorua, the geothermal paradise where you can stand on active volcanoes, peer into massive creaters and see boiling mud and erupting geysers. 

But first let's check into our accommodation....

When you arrive at your location and are greeted by the welcoming aroma of freshly baked scones still warm from the oven, then you know you've made a good decision.
The charming house is located literally on the banks of the lake. It belongs to Ken and Carol our friendly hosts who welcomed us into their home...

Once again I rose at dawn to capture the house in a good light...I tiptoed across the back lawn of the house...can you see my footprints on the dew covered lawn?
You can't fail to be wowed by the extensive northern lake views from all of the rooms which take full advantage of all day sunshine.

 How's that for lemon growing? 
Produce from the garden feature highly on the breakfast the form of jams and chutneys. 
Carol introduced us to the feijoa! 
(Feijoas originated in the forests of South America and are fragrant smooth-skinned green tropical tree fruit that have creamy sweet jelly centres. They are part of the Myrtle family, which includes other fragrant plants such as eucalyptus, allspice, guavas, and cloves.Their distinctive complex flavour has been likened to a mix of strawberries, pineapple and guavas, with undertones of quince, lemon and mint. In Australia they are sometimes known as pineapple guavas. The unique complexity and fragrance of the feijoa is the reason they are so versatile and addictive, with uses ranging from just munching them by the dozen to making beautiful perfumes. 

Feijoas are an extremely versatile fruit with very little wastage, being scooped out and eaten as fresh fruit and in fruit salads, used in juices, smoothies and ice creams, wines and vodkas, jams and chutneys, salads, in savoury dishes, salsas and especially in baking.  They are also easily frozen for future use, and are even used in perfumes and skin care ranges. The question should really be "What can't you do with a feijoa?")

Here's the room we stayed in...The Tahi room ~ photo courtesy of  Lake House website

This is the view from our room....not bad eh?

 Just a step along this path leads to the luxurious, purpose built spa room perfect to relax and unwind after a full days sightseeing and activities...

Ken and Carol have travelled extensively and lived in the Middle East for a time, so we had lots in common to talk about. Carol is also a very talented artist and some of her work is exhibited throughout the house.
She is also an exceptional cook and breakfasts were very relaxed and enjoyable.
Our time in Rotorua was to be limited so we asked Ken and Carol to advise us on how best to use the time we had to maximise our stay. 

So would it be rafting, jet-boarding, luging, soaring through the sky in a giant swing, tumbling downhill in a plastic bubble called a Zorb (I kid you not!) or blazing through the forest on a mountain bike, Rotorua certainly knows how to give you an adrenalin rush. 
Rotorua has a staggering 16 freshwater lakes. All are of volcanic origin; filling craters, calderas or valleys blocked by lava flows, and many are ringed by forest and farmland with fantastic lakeside walking trails. 
The lakes are teeming with trout too but there are regulations to adhere to for fishing.
And so well fed with walking shoes on and plenty of layers for any weather eventuality, we set off for the day....The Hamurana Springs Reserve was first on our list.
I've included the notice below for anyone who might like more information about the springs.

This place feels special from the moment you leave the car park and enter the walkway....

We have never seen water this crystal clear....
Alongside the springs is a grove of towering Californian coastal redwoods. These impressive trees were planted in 1901, and now reach heights of around 60 metres. The Redwood Memorial Grove track that winds its way between the redwoods is the forests most popular walk, although there is a range of other great walking tracks throughout the forest, ranging from 30-minutes strolls to all-day treks. There are also a wide range of both exotic and native trees too.
If you look closely or zoom in on the next pic you can see the trout.
 He is right in the centre of the photo...

I've taken lots of video footage throughout the trail with trout clearly in view. I'm afraid I'll have to edit at some stage because they are just too large to use here...that's another job for another day.
I've never seen trout so clearly in the water!
There are also dancing sands which don't show up on camera nearly as well as I would like...but the sand has little eruptions happening which give the appearance of mini volcanoes under the surface of the water. 

Here is the head of the spring (named after Hangarua a chieftainess) the rock around this spring is volcanic (rhyolitic) in origin. The spring water travels down from the Mamaku plateau through underground aquifers. This journey takes an amazing 70 years!
This spring is the largest in the North Island and where on the 9th January 1957 more than 5,000 pennies dating from 1860 were recovered. All of these were distributed to children's charities. The water from these springs flows into Lake Rotorua.  The height of the spring above sea level is 280 metres (920 feet). The depth of the spring is approx.15 metres (50 feet) The temperature is a constant 51°F (10°C) The volume of water is approx. 4,500,000 litres (1,000,000 gallons) per hour!!!

Once again we could see the huge trout gently circling and enjoying their special place....

I'm now becoming aware of how big this post is turning out to be...
So I've decided to split it into two parts...
This is part 1obviously, but I hope you'll join me in part 2 shortly...
We're off to 'Hells Gate' (an active geothermal park with mud spa) and a Maori cultural experience.

See you the meantime have a great weekend