The Black Water Rafting experience in the Black Labyrinth cave was brilliant. Clad in wetsuit and white wellies and carrying a lorry inner tube, we made our way deep into the incredible cave system. Some training first in how to jump down a waterfall backwards whilst sitting in the inner tube and we were off. Scrambling and then floating on our backs we turned off our headlights and watched the glow worms giving off their amazing light on the cave roof. 65 m deep in the cave we eventually floated gracefully to the exit further on through the cave system. A hot shower followed by soup and a bagel and we were off eastwards towards Rotorua. The famous sulphur smells of the area were not that noticeable on arrival. We walked through the modern looking and spacious town centre to the lake and then had an Indian meal washed down with some local ” Croucher” beer. Next morning visited Te Puia which is the geo thermal park including the Pohutu Geyser which spouts about 15m. Excellent guided tour by a Maori lady who taught us the Maori history and culture following which we walked around the park which is full of bubbling mud pools and hot ponds. Later on we took an organised tour to a Maori village for a traditional evening of culture, entertainment and a hangi meal. The show was outstanding as was the meal, only downside was the large number of tourists in each group. Despite this we learnt a lot about the Maoris and enjoyed the welcome they gave us. Their own Haka was very impressive. The next day we moved on North to the Coromandel peninsula. A surprisingly hilly route up the east coast through major forestry regeneration plantations. Sustainable timber is big business here. Two nights at Hot Water Bay, so called due to the geo thermal area of beach which at low tide provides a hot spring of up to 64 degrees C just below the beach surface. Unfortunately neap tides prevented us from digging a “bath” in the sand as the waves were still covering the sand at low tide. However, we buried our legs just above our ankles and reached the very hot water. We weren’t able to do that for long! Great fun though. Next day we walked to Cathedral Cove, beautiful rock formation and lovely beach. We both did some great body surfing followed by fish and chips.

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