FROM TAUPO TO KUAOTUNU TO AUCKLAND
Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand
The next day on 28th October 2015, Abram drove Sippe and me from Taupo through the heartland via Rotorua to Tauranga, then along the western coast of North Island to Kuaotunu in the Coromandel Peninsula. The journey took about 5 hours 15 minutes.
We soon reached Wairekei which has several natural geysers and boiling mud pools. Wairekei is also the home of the Wairakei Power Station, a geothermal electric power generating station that is the second largest in the world.
We passed Mihi, where the Maori Indigenous Health Institute is located, and reached the city of Rotorua on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua. The smell of sulphur was in the air as Rotorua was well known for its geothemal activity, featuring geysers and hot mud pools as well as luxurious spas. The best known was Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa, the largest active geysers in the southern hemisphere. It erupted once or twice every hour and reached a height of 30 metres.
Rotorua was also the the centre of Maori culture and heritage collections. The Maori people called one of the most spectacular springs Wai-O-Tapu, which means "Sacred Waters". Today 35% of the population is M«§ori.
We left Rotorua and drove to Tauranga, a costal port city at the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of Northern Island. Tauranga City, with a population of about 138,000, is fifth largest urban area in New Zealand. The Port of Tauranga is New Zealand's largest port in terms of gross export tonnage. Tauranga”Ēs harbour was evident everywhere, providing the urban area with an attractive waterfront setting. Fishing, sailing, diving and dolphin tours were popular.
Soon we reached Whangamata, the gateway to Coromandel Peninsula. Whangamata's ocean beach provided some of the best surfing breaks, yet they were safe for swimming. The Coromandel Forest Park bordering the town provided many outdoor experiences, including short walks, mountain bike trails and old gold mining sites. There were a number of off-shore islands. Hauturu or Clark Island could be reached by wading at low tide.
We arrived at Mercury Villas in Kuaotunu where we stayed for the night. The villa was situated on a hill overlooking Mercury Bay with its white sandy beach and the blue ocean beyond. We had free Wifi, which of course was very handy.
The next morning, 29th October 2015, we drove from Kuaotunu to Auckland, first along the coast of the Firth of Thames, then inland on the northern part of North Island. The journey took about 3 hours.
The Firth of Thames is a large bay located in the north of North Island of New Zealand. We drove through Thames, a small town of about 7000 people. Yet, it was the largest town in the Coromandel Peninsula.
We arrived at Auckland, which has a population of more than one and a half million people and is the largest city in New Zealand. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population in the world. We toured Auckland before I took my flight home.
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