On 2 May 2009, we hired a 2008 Previa to go to Rotorua, about 250 kilometers away. The idea was to do something that would make our American guest’s time worthwhile, be comfortable for my aged father, and be interesting for the children. I’m not sure how we fared in the final analysis on these counts. But Philip and I enjoyed ourselves—Philip enjoyed driving the Previa, and I was delighted that no one grumbled.

The day was forecast to be wet and cold. It was cold but hardly ever rained during the trip. But it did rain while we were loading the car. (After we had driven for a few minutes, I noted that my shoes were completely wet. I took them off and wore my jandals.)

We drove past Matamata. When the children said that some scenes in Lord of the Rings were shot there, we did a U-turn and drove a bit into the town.




We then continued on our way.


Sometimes the GPS did not warn us in time, and once we ended up in a very beautiful place. Before we turned back, we took some pictures.



At a spot where we stopped for a rest were goats, dogs, chickens (like the strange-looking one in the picture), and even an emu.



We were taking a slightly longer but more scenic route upto Tirau, which is a strange town with animal-shaped corrugated iron buildings.


We reached Rotorua, which is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and made a small detour to Wai-O-Tapu to see the mud pools. The whole area, right from when we reached Rotorua is known for geothermal activity. Wherever we turned we saw steam rising.

On the way we stopped at Thermal Wonderland, which is supposed to have some special treks among thermal hot springs and pools of all hues. Although tickets were expensive, we decided to come back later if we could. (At the time, I was glad to avoid the walk because my feet were freezing in the jandals.)

We visited the mudpools instead. (I also noticed that the car heater had dried out my shoes.) If you are looking for something colourful, reds and yellows and greens, the mudpools is not for you. But it is the only geothermal thing, which God gave free of charge, that is free of charge. You’ve got to cough up a lot of money to see the rest.

My father said that the hot, evil-looking, boiling mudpools, plopping and exploding, reminded him of the lake of fire that he wanted to save our near and dear ones from. The whole place looked grey, bleak, and eerie, like some place in a nightmare.





We drove back to Rotorua and found a street with many restaurants, most of them closed. We then drove around and found a BurgerFuel place.

After what was by now a very late lunch, we were left with a couple of hours, unsure of what to do. Rotorua is a place where people do many fun activities. But with my father, we wanted to do restful things. We would have loved a soak in a pool with naturally heated geothermal water, but our enquiries did not yield any information worth considering. So we drove aimlessly for a bit, till we came to this impressive building.


Driving further, we came to a lake and a place called Sulphur point that had a strong smell of sulphur.

We drove around the lake for a while and came to a most beautiful spot with all kinds of birds,



a glorious sunset,


an island of birds gone to roost in the trees,



and the sound of a million water birds on the lake


The darkness deepened and it was time to go.


After that delightful and unexpected stop, we drove back to Auckland. We had a quick KFC dinner before we went to bed to be rested enough for church in the morning.