Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday & Wednesday - Redwoods, Taupo, Hidden Valley, Napier

Tuesday August 7
A bit of a crazy day. The morning was taken up with preparing the campervan and all it contains - David had to figure out how to dump the waste tanks and fill the water tanks, while I dried towels and packed us back up for travel after three nights in our lovely campground in Rotorua.

We had planned to head towards Napier, but there was a volcanic eruption overnight, and Hawkes Bay, including Napier, is covered with ash. We’ll see how tomorrow looks, but for now we decided to go to Taupo.

We left the campground at 10:30 and headed first for the redwood forest. That was lovely - redwoods brought from the west coast of the US, growing beautifully in the rainforest of Rotorua. In the information center, Sofia showed the lady her ballet moves (having watched “Bella Dancerella” all morning), so the lady gave all the kids key chains.

Micah was in A MOOD, and angry at David. So while we were hiking, Micah went too far ahead, and we could not see or hear him. Boy, did he get in trouble when we finally caught up! After that, David and Sam took one of the longer trails while I took Micah and Sofia on the shortest trail. Good thing, too: we got back to the parking lot at exactly the same time, thanks to Sofia’s many staged sit-ins. Took forever!

But it really was gorgeous.

After the redwoods, we stopped at the department store to get me a sweater (only $20) and another pair of pants for Sofia (she sits in water too often!). We also tried getting her some boots, but she lost interests. Also, Micah managed to find a kindred spirit at the electronics store: the guy helped him charge up his NintendoDS3 (his cord broke while we were still in SF), and eventually we even found a replacement cord! That made for a much happier Micah.

By then it was after 1 and we were all very hungry. We drove to a pizza place, but it was closed, so we drove back to the city centre. That was a bad idea - David got VERY stressed driving the campervan in the city center, and he got angry because we could not find free parking or an open pizza place. We finally managed to park (back at the Rotorua Museum), and then walked about 8 blocks to Hell’s Pizza. CUTE concept, delicious pizza. I’ll post their website another time. Even had gluten free for Sofia, and dessert pizza.

While we waited for the pizza to cook, I took Sam to the pharmacy to get a splint for his finger, which still hurts a lot. Again, David didn’t think he needed it, which is causing tension between them, but I think that if it makes the child feel better, it’s worth while, even if it doesn’t do his finger any more good than just taping.

Back to the car around 3:30 to head out. Took late to really do anything else, unfortunately. But it was a lovely ride down. Taupo is on a lake, and is a resort town. Bad idea. EXPENSIVE. This campsite cost us $70 with the 10% discount (we have a FamilyParks pass), and the three boys had to pay another $26 to go use the pool (which apparently is a whole big splash park, and we got 1/2 price as residents).

They’re still swimming. Sofia’s asleep. I think I’m exhausted and will go join her. Tomorrow we’ll head out early to go to some cool caves.

Wednesday August 8

Better day. Got up and dressed and breakfasted and out fairly early, 9:30. Headed directly to...McDonalds. They have free WiFi. Sat there for an hour while David did work and I did email and Sam used his iPad and Micah grouched around and Sofia played on the playground.

Eventually David extricated himself from emails and work, and we got back in the car. Took about 25 minutes to get to our destination: Orakei Korako (“The Hidden Valley”) Cave and Thermal Park.

Gorgeous. Magnificent. Breathtaking.

First we took a quick 2 minute ferry ride from the visitor center to the park on the other side of the lake. Then we wandered. There’s a boarded path for the whole route, because you don’t want to walk in the boiling water of the thermal pools!

It was huge, and spectacular. Really a great morning. It was supposed to take an hour and a half but probably took us longer because Sofia had a few sit-ins again. David carried her for a few minutes (and they both fell), but then I gave her a camera and that distracted her enough so she could walk the rest of the way.

Of course, Sofia liked the ferry boat ride best of all; I think she would have been happy just to ride back and forth all day with the boat driver lady. But when we got back to the Visitor center, there was a very large and very calm dog (looked like a greyhound) waiting to be hugged and petted. The perfect end to that trip.

We went back to Taupo in search of lunch. Found it in the form of some delicious soups, curries, risottos and health shakes. Well, all of us except Micah. He just could not find something he wanted to eat, and he just kept getting more and more miserable. When we were all done, I did take him in to three other places, but he still could not find something he wanted, so I gave up. He ate some bread in the campervan.

He’s good, really, except when he’s terrible. And he and Sam get along great, except when they hate each other!

We drove two hours from Taupo to Napier, through some incredible mountain ranges, up and down and twisty and turny roads. I’m glad I wasn’t driving! (I fell asleep).

Got into Napier just before dark, got settled into the camp ground on the edge of town. The problem with these camp grounds is that they say “$28 per camper” but that means for the first 2 adults. It’s $7 per child, too. And this one charges $0.50 per shower, and $4 (instead of $2) for each laundry machine cycle. And of course the dryers do not dry on the first cycle.

After dinner, I got Sofia to sleep, and the boys played dice in the van, getting along very nicely, while David and I sat outside (first night that was possible!) working on our laptops together. At least this place offers free wifi, which is a BIG change!

I had the  boys go check the laundry, and when they discovered it was still wet, I had them go to the office to ask for help, which means the guy put more money in the dryer for us. Whew.

Just as it started to rain, forcing David and I back inside, the boys started fighting again. So they brushed teeth (although not without fighting and the older one bursting into tears of frustration), and they are in bed. We, being the exciting couple we are, are still working on our laptops. But I have to go get the laundry...