Today I had a nice lazy start to the day. I woke up around 8:00am without an alarm clock. I had turkeys “gobbling” to wake me up instead. I worked on my blog, made breakfast, and had coffee, before driving about one kilometre to the Waitomo glow worms.
Today I woke up at 4:45am. I didn’t sleep good and kept tossing and turning. I ended up reading for a few hours before making breakfast, and then heading to the Southward car museum, only a few kilometres away. The museum was absolutely outstanding, with over 250 cars and motorcycles dating back to 1895! The facility was immaculate, the cars were immaculate, and attention was made to every little detail. There was also a rather large collection of oil antique containers, signage, model cars, etc. The Southward Car Museum was opened in December 1979 by Sir Len Southward when he realized his collection was becoming too large and needed a place to store it.
After spending over three hours at the museum I drove to the town of Foxton, where I walked up and down the Main Street. I came across a gravel parking lot down a short narrow lane with a bunch of old trolley buses from the 1940’s, as well as a pretty rustic building with more inside. I didn’t want to snoop around as it looked deserted and not well maintained, and I didn’t want to impose on private property, even though it wasn’t marked accordingly. It turns out that the owner and his wife unfortunately passed away a few years ago and the place has been left to fall apart, unless someone takes it over. I certainly hope so because the place and the buses have a lot of character.
I was getting hungry so I made myself a sandwich for lunch before driving onward towards Whanganui, which was a really cool little city. I visited Durie Hill Elevator, which is New Zealand’s only public elevator. It connects Anzac Parade, beside the Whanganui River, with the suburb of Durie Hill through a 205 metre long 3 metre high tunnel. The construction of the elevator started in 1916, and was completed in 1919. The elevator, which is 66 metres tall, also has a flat-topped tower encasing the elevator machinery, and it even has a wrought iron staircase on the outside so you can go on the top to see a view of the city. I paid $4 to do a return trip on the elevator. It was well worth it! The current operator, Zena Mabbot, has been operating it since 1971! She was a very friendly!
After riding the elevator and taking some photos of the tunnel I walked next door to the war memorial, and walked up to the top. The walk took about six minutes and was well worth it. The views from the top were incredible! There was also many locks that were secured to the top of the structure. Over to the north I saw a water tower, which I wanted to go view next.
After driving over to the water tower I was confronted with a disappointing gate leading to the top. The trip to the top wasn’t going to happen, but instead I took a couple of nice photos.
It was time to find somewhere to stay the night. I had lots of selections, but most had unfavourable reviews, so I settled on the best one, which was in an aquatic centre parking lot next to the highway.
I actually got an overall good sleep, except for an 7.1 magnitude earthquake at 4:37am, but more on that tomorrow!
Today I woke up at 7:00am, and prepared an egg skillet for breakfast. I then went and explored Wellington.
Today I had a lazy start to my day. I woke up at around 8:00am. I made myself a home made egg McMuffin style sandwich, and a coffee before hitting the road. My first stop was Pukaha Mount Bruce, a wildlife and bird sanctuary that help to reintroduce and repopulate endangered species, such as the Kiwi, into a protected environment. I saw over two dozen birds, as well as Kiwi’s, including a rare white Kiwi. Their day’s are reversed so that we can see them (sort of), but my camera was unable to capture them very well. They are under an infrared light so I had to convert the images to black and white, and it was nearly pitch black and flash photography was not allowed.
I spent a few hours walking around the wildlife sanctuary before heading on to my next stop, Castlepoint Lighthouse. The cast iron lighthouse was built in 1913, and originally used oil and a wick and needed to be manned continuously. As technology evolved the lighthouse was converted to run a 1000 watt bulb off of a diesel generator in 1954, and subsequently converted to run off mains in 1961, with the diesel generator as a backup. The facility was fully automated in 1988. The views at Castlepoint were amazing!
I was pretty hungry after climbing up to Castlepoint so I decided to have some lunch, some leftover spaghetti and meat sauce from last night. It was now about a two and a half hour drive towards Wellington, but I decided to break it up by stopping in Carleton to see more Art Deco, and Greytown to admire Victorian style architecture, as well as some Art Deco.
I arrived in Wellington during rush hour, but surprisingly traffic wasn’t that bad. That’s thanks to their proper planning and use of public transportation. They have the highest usage rates of public transportation in all of New Zealand. I visited a camper dump station to drain and refill my water before finding a parking spot overlooking the beautiful southern coast. The night sky was perfectly clear so I even had the opportunity to do a long exposure shot of the milky way!
Today I struggled to wake up. I was pretty tired, so I guess I must not have had a good sleep. I woke up at 7:30am and had a lazy start. I made myself eggs, cheese, and ham on toast for breakfast, served with a cup of coffee.
My first stop today was Hells Gate, which I tried to visit yesterday. Hell’s Gate is a geothermal attraction that has the world’s largest mud volcano, the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere, and about 30 hot pools. It reminded me a lot of my trip to Iceland, but also in a different way. Iceland had pools that were more blue/green colour in hue, and these one’s were more black/yellow in colour. It all has to do with the amount of sulphur, and the type of effluent. I opted out on a mud bath because I was going to visit some other geothermal attractions, and wanted to save my money for those.
After visiting Hells Gate I drove to the next geothermal attraction that I wanted to visit called Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Waimangu is the only geothermal system in the world whose surface activity can be traced down to an exact day, in this case June 10 1886. An extremely violent volcanic eruption occured, causing a series of craters and allowed geothermal fluid already present underground a direct passage to the surface of the earth. I took a one and a half hour walk through the valley and saw the beautiful Southern Crater, Frying Pan Lake, and Inferno Crater. Southern Crater was formed during the 1886 eruption and is about 50 metres deep. The crater isn’t active, and is thus a cold pool except for some warm ground and some small mud pools at its north-eastern end.
Frying Pan Lake was formed on April 1 1917 when Echo Crater erupted, causing a deep and enlarged crater that quickly accumulated water. The lake is fairly acidic, with an average pH level of 3.5, and is fairly hot reaching boiling temperatures at the surface of the lake. There is a small river that flows from the north-eastern side of the lake.
My personal favorite was Inferno Crater, which is a pale blue lake that is highly acidic, with a pH level of 2.1, and a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius. The lake follows a complicated rhythmic cycle of shallow recessions occurring every few days, followed by deeper recessions at longer intervals. It’s common behaviour is to overflow for two to three days, recede about eight metres for about fifteen days, partially refill over three to four weeks, oscillate for a while, and then overflow again. White silica deposits make where the overflow level is.
At the end of the walk a bus can pick you up, but the bus only runs every hour or so. I was lucky and arrived only a few minutes before a bus arrived.
After catching a bus to the top I was in need of some food because it was way past my lunch time. I had an apple and an orange, as well as a ham and cheese sandwich.
I wasn’t sure what to do next so I checked the GPS provided with my camper, as well as Google. I got quite a bit of information that interested me. My first stop was Ohaaki geothermal power station. I wasn’t allowed to enter, but I took some nice photo’s of the plant. When I was in Iceland you were allowed to have geothermal power plant tours at their power plants. I went on two with my father when I was there last year. Ohaaki is unique because it is the only power station of its kind in New Zealand, with a 105 metre tall natural draft cooling tower. The other power plants all use fan coolers, or water cooling. The power plant was originally constructed in 1989 and had a generating capacity of 104 MW, but over the years this has declined to 65 MW, due to a decline in the steam field. This is common with geothermal power plants. A way to mitigate this is to re-inject the effluent back into the ground when done with it, or to use a blended cycle co-generation, where smaller turbines run off intermediate and low pressures leftover after the main turbine has extracted what it can from the steam.
My next stop was Aratiatia Rapids, which had a short five minute walk to a lookout to see the rapids. Technically the rapids are not always prevalent due to the dam constructed for the Aratiatia hydro-electric power station in 1964. The dam construction meant that no water flowed over the rapids, but several times per day the dam gates are opened which restores the rapids to normal operations. These rapids are also used by local companies for white water rafting.
After visiting Aratiatia Rapids I headed towards Taupo Lake, which is where most of New Zealand’s geothermal power stations are located. I stopped at Wairakei geothermal power station and took a few photos. This is the largest geothermal power station in New Zealand at 161 MW. It uses all the latest technologies such as effluent re-injection, and blended cycle co-generation. I also took a photo of the bridge next to the power station, because I thought it looked nice.
The last stop of the day was Haku Falls, which are fast and furious. While I was photographing the falls a jet boat was blazing around at the bottom with some pretty thrilled customers screaming and laughing.
It was time to find a place to sleep for the night. I picked a great spot right in front of Taupo Lake on the north shore. I had a beautiful view of the sunset, a few hundred ducks as company, and even free wifi!
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