Thermal Pools and Symphonies

Feb 21 and 22

Our motel rooms in Rotorua were located on the waters of Lake Rotorua with the town’s Events Centre Park just a half a block away. There was much activity on the Pavilion in the park because the annual free Aukland Symphony performance was happening that night. We had eaten early since our lunch had happened on the road at most people’s breakfast time and the wine club meeting had also dispersed as most of us were dressing up in our quite relaxed informal best to head over to the concert. The town has a predominately Maori population and a party atmosphere prevailed. Food vendors lined the outer areas and people floated in and out of the grassy area during the whole event. There were two large screens on either side of the stage allowing everyone to see the individual musicians – this was more like a rock concert than a traditional symphony performance. I wandered through the milling crowd to the center back area for the best sound and settled in on this pleasant night. There was a lot of talent on that stage. We heard everything from show tunes to jazz singers to opera performers. I am not an opera fan but good music is good music. The Symphony itself was great. Having had a full day I wandered back to the motel at least an hour before the concerts conclusion but then was treated to a wonderful display of fireworks as I sat on the balcony at the end of the music. Pretty cool end to a really nice day.

Rotorua is a big outdoorsy town which depends on active tourism and has the largest mountain bike trail system in New Zealand. Years ago the area had been planted in redwoods and Eucalyptus trees (non-natives) which became a large playground for hikers, bikers, fishermen, kayakers, etc. Thermal pools, geysers and hot springs abound throughout the area and also have added to the tourist base of the higher end outdoor center. I had a few chores to do on our day off including getting my bike to the shop for repairs. When we had arrived the day before I had located a Specialized bike shop and set up an appointment for 10am. Vince was organizing a carful to go to a “hot river” as he called it but was leaving before 10 so I had to pass. They had a great time swimming in the hot springs area of the river and wandering through the thermal pools and sulfury mud pools. I got my bike back in good condition. Lee and Scott came with me – Lee got some good advice from the folks at the bike store and ended up with a new bike seat. We are all hopeful that the new seat will help Lee on the upcoming rides.

Bridget and I had a nice walk part way around the lake. The pathway around the entire lake is 42K with much of it tree-lined and shady. We enjoyed the birdlife as we moved along, particularly the black swans who added a little serenity with the graceful movements through the water. Our walk ended when we reached Sulphur Bay – the prevailing odor there prompted our return.

The following day’s 132K ride to Taurangi started with Quentin, Bridget and I moving along at a reasonable pace. Bridget feels a little tired, Q has some issues with his backside after the long days in the saddle and I am doing a little more spinning to favor my sore knee. We are still pedaling along at a pretty good pace. Suddenly Terry came flying by. He is “flushing out the carbon” as he says. Terry is a highly skilled strong rider who has been racing all year in Australia. We pedaled many thousand K’s together in South America in 2014. When we got to lunch Terry was sitting there waiting for us. Bridget, Terry and I had a very pleasant afternoon biking together along the shores of beautiful Lake Taupo, one of the world’s best Trout lakes. The weather was perfect and the scenery was spectacular. What a great day.

The area around Lake Taupo and Taurangi is also a great outdoor destination. Fishing is the biggest attraction. I watched a number of fishermen plying the waters of Lake Taupo with their flies as we worked our way here yesterday. Much of the same activities are found here as in Rotorua but not as developed. The largest ski area in NZ is located just a few K’s away – Whackapapa on Mt. Ruapehu and the nearby Tongariro National Park is a World Heritage area. Wish we had more time to explore but we are back on our bikes this morning. Last evening we had another group barbecue with Scott and Wayne being the chefs and Vince the main attraction telling stories. It was fun.

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