Firoze’s journey in NZ continued to Wai-O-Tapu from Muriwai, as his love and admiration for the country grew ten fold with what lay ahead.
Known as the Thermal Wonderland, Wai-O-Tapu is one of the highlights of NZ for its spectacular showcase of colourful and unique geothermal elements sculpted by thousands of years of volcanic activity. One of the most “unreal” places in the world, it is a “must” on any NZ trip! Wai-O-Tapu is a short drive away from the town of Rotorua, which itself has hot springs, but these are for therapeutic bathing, and are not visually attractive.
Most tourists mistake the hot springs of Rotorua for Way-O-Tapu and miss out on the spectacular sight. “One must spend at least two hours or more exploring Was-O-Tapu to really savour the beauty. One of the attractions of Wai-O-tapu is the Lady Knox Geyser which erupts once a day at 10:15 am. This geyser is a minute’s drive outside the thermal park itself and is free to view. Sadly, I missed it for not being able to get there in time,” said Firoze.
Wai-O-Tapu meaning ‘sacred waters’ in the Maori language, has been named one of the “20 most surreal places in the world.” Sinister terrace formations cocooned in primal native forests, dramatic views over mysterious craters, erupting mud pools, and the world famous Champagne Pool are some of the stunning attractions of this thermal wonderland. Definitely, something to look forward to in your trip to NZ.
Driving from Wai-O-Tapu to Turanga Firoze came across a beautiful resort town on the east coast of North Island. Located on the Bay of Plenty the highlight of Tauranga is that adventure seekers can climb Mt Maunganui to get a spectacular view of the town, and of the bay. Mt Manunganui another extinct volcano, can be climbed in 30-45mins. The Bay itself offers several marine adventures like sailing, and dolphin watching.
Glowworm caves at Waitomo
Another “must see” in any NZ visit is the glowworm caves at Waitomo, about 3 hours drive from Auckland. Crowded with thousands of an indigenous glowworm called Arachnocampa luminosa, the caves in Waitomo are have a ceiling that appears to be lit by innumerable tiny stars. As the glowworms radiate their natural light, tourists get to experience one of the most surreal occurring on the planet while riding on a boat under the starry ceiling. These caves have supreme Geological importance for the limestone formations which date back to 30 million years, apparently when the region was submerged in the ocean. The caves are home to several insects and fungi growing on the walls. Unfortunately, you cannot click photographs in the caves, since the flash might harm the glowworms. But you can definitely count upon saving the image in your mind forever.
Back in Auckland
Walking around the downtown area in Auckland one would come across a lovely marina with many luxury boats and yachts. The Sky Tower which dominates the skyline is the tallest man made structure in the southern atmosphere, and a hotspot for bungee jumping. It also has a restaurant and observation deck on top. Like every place has its own shopper’s paradise, NZ has Queen St, the main shopping street. This street is home to many luxury as well as inexpensive souvenir shops enabling you to splurge on some of the best products on the planet.