Continued from March 13th.
I woke up in the coastal town of Matata, and got to photograph the beautiful sunrise that was not predominantly cloudy!
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I drove south, through misty valleys and cow-filled pastures past Mt. Tarawera to get to my first stop, the redwood forest in Rotorua! I’ve always wanted to see redwoods, and walking through them was wonderfully magical and free.
Carrying on, I went the “wrong” way for a little while, but realized it fairly quickly and turned around.. I had the road right, just not the direction. I walked a short trail on Rainbow Mountain to its crater lake, an outrageously bright blue small thermal lake which just blows your mind with color.
Next stop was to the Waiotapu Mud Pools. Obnoxious farting sounds accompany the globs of sulfurous gas as they burst up from beneath the mud, glopping and plopping the mud around. Some of the larger mud vents actually explode and shoot boiling mud and gas into the air. One of the best parts of that experience was hearing the other tourists shriek when they saw (and smelled) the explosive bowel movements of the earth.
The entire area through which I traveled that day is part of a huge geothermal valley, so steam vents and geysers and boiling mud and strange rocks are everywhere. I went to Craters Of The Moon, with the aforementioned geothermal features among a blisteringly hot boardwalk. It was impressive.
On a whim I adventured to Huka Falls and I’m glad I went; it is a short drop for a waterfall but has a huge amount of water going over: 200,000 litres per second. The pool into which the water falls turns a bright blue from all the tiny air bubbles that get pounded down by the force of the water.