Steaming drains and egg sandwiches.

Thursday 2nd February 

So we didn’t go straight to Rotorua, we didn’t feel like driving all that way in one hit so we stopped off at Waitui reserve about a couple of hours short of Rotorua. The road took us through the town of Bethlehem, we were both surprised at how big it was. We’d pulled off the main drag and onto a single track lane that ran alongside Tauranga bay to a small car park that allowed campers to stay overnight. It had enough space for five or six vans and was obviously a good spot for boaters as the car park had a small jetty close by.

We saw a couple of what looked like fishing boats being hitched up and towed away while we were there. One chap had an industrial-sized cool bag with him that didn’t look like it was designed for carrying fish. He must have been concerned about the effects of dehydration whilst fishing, but as he was built like a Maori version of the wrestler Giant Haystacks we thought it best not to ask him if he’d caught anything (we once caught crabs in Scotland).

After we’d had a bit of a wander it began to spit with rain. Time was getting on, so after a couple of games of scrabble (2-0 Kip) we settled in for a quiet and peaceful early night.

Until it got windy and it really did get windy. It blew and blew and the van rattled and rocked and once again the rain came down. Not the best night’s sleep but we had nothing to rush off for in the morning, so it didn’t matter too much.

We continued our journey to Rotorua, famous for its hot springs, steam rising from the drains and spouting geysers (makes me think of an old bloke who was always on the bus to the Lincoln City games when I was a kid).

The weather had picked up and it was a lovely drive. We arrived late morning and had a look around. We wandered into the Maori village and after twenty five minutes of taking pictures and reading the information boards a helpful guide asked if we had bought tickets. No, we said but we’ll go and get them straight away. As one steaming drain is pretty much the same as any other steaming drain we scarpered. Amazing as it was to see these wonders of nature, the overriding memory is the smell. Sulphur, it’s like three pints of Marstons Pedigree and a plate of egg sandwiches.

That afternoon we threw caution to the wind and said to hell with the expense, we booked into a proper campsite. We needed a shower. At first it’s nice to have the path to yourself but by now we were in need of friends. After a good hose down and a shave (Kip) a face mask and a soak in a hot tub (Dave) we became close to human again.

The campsite was located on the bank of Lake Rotorua and it has a hot beach. Literally. We sat in about a foot of water and if you dig into the sand with your fingers they get really hot from the steam rising into the lake. Dave managed to get his arse cheeks cooked to perfection. This black swan has a red bill, the electric is probably overdue.

In the evening we sat outside playing scrabble and having a drink, the the chap at the pitch next door produced a guitar and sat singing Springsteen songs. We got chatting, he (Sean) and his wife and daughter were over from County Waterford, Ireland. The rest of the evening was spent chatting, drinking and singing Bonnie Raitt songs. Lovely people.

Time for a wildlife update. Add to the list:

Possums – dead – lots.

Black swans – several.

Cormorants – ditto.

Unidentified birds of prey – big – also lots.

Spiders – huge, hairy-legged, eff-off big scary bastard – one. (It was in Newstead, on the other side of a window, and I know that’s a while ago now, but  I was too traumatised to mention it before – K.)

We also have an impressive collection of dead-life on the front of Queenie, see how many you can name. Answers on a postcard please to Mr D Trump Twat Towers New York America

Did I mention the size of that spider?