Waiotapu Scenic Park AND the Redwood Canopy Walk

January 10, 2020, Friday. It feels like we’re always rushing to get to the next scheduled activity, and whenever there is a significant hole in our schedule, we fill it with something. By the time we get home each day, I’m often too tired to do any quality blogging. The bike ride across the USA was less taxing physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The Give Way (=yield) signs on every road throw me off. They look like arrows for the direction that traffic is supposed to travel. NZ drives on the left.
“A wizard should know better!” This is from an article in the local paper that I read while eating my Vogel sandwich for breakfast. Actually, the cut may not be so bad, especially if they replant with native trees.
With about half an hour to spare after breakfast, we decided to do the Heritage Walk around the lake. It’s a free track that goes by mud pots and hot springs.

We headed back to the i-Site Visitor Center, and jumped on the HeadFirst tour bus to Waiotapu. Maori is like Hawaiian with different sounds. Substitute a K for a T, and an L for an R, and Maori becomes Hawaiian-like. Wai is water, and Tapu is like the Hawaiian Kapu, meaning sacred (or forbidden). So, Sacred Waters.

It’s basically boiling water and boiling mud, so it’s easy to see why it was forbidden. Also, the signs say that it contains heavy metals like gold and silver (not ore grade), but also mercury, arsenic, and thallium. And they sell this mud to tourists for face cream!

The geyser is the main attraction.

This crater shows the layer of crude oil that appears in the area. In the early days, people would skim it to burn in their kerosene lanterns.
There was a boardwalk around this colorful lake in Waiotapu.
These are real colors. Kind of like Yellowstone.
Well, it is a volcano.
We hiked to Ngakoro Lake. It actually is an unnatural green.
This photo is has not been digitally adjusted for color. The actual lake is an even more brilliant fluorescent lime green.
Some locals call the town “RotoVegas,” because supposedly, it has more motels per square kilometer than any other city in the country. Fenton street seems to have them for miles.
We had lunch in town at a place called “& rice.” Their Teriyaki Chicken Donburi has a creamy gravy. More than Merrianne could finish. My Tonkotsu Ramen was quite good.

Our next activity was hiking in the Redwood Forest, and then, the Canopy walk and light show at night. We could have taken the bus home for a couple hours, but would just have to come back to downtown at 6 pm anyway to make the connection for the bus to the Redwoods. We decided to hang out at the public library.

I had not packed my netbook, so couldn’t do any computer stuff. The 10-key Vodafone was terrible for internet. Even entering the url for pididu.com took two minutes. Merrianne did some emails on her iPad.
They have all these beanbags and umbrellas set up on the lawn outside the library. A few people were napping, and I was glad to join them.
When I woke up, there were sparrows foraging very close to me. I put out a few crumbs of cashews. There were also small gulls, but those birds weren’t as brave about getting within inches of me.

At about 5:30 pm, we caught the bus to the Redwoods. Around the year 1850, someone decided that since New Zealand was at about the same latitude as California, that California Redwoods might do well, so imported them. The trees actually grow many times faster in NZ than California. Timber has been a major industry in the country for quite some time – first, the native trees, then redwood, and now Douglas Fir. 90% of the wood is sold to China.

From the Redwood Grove bus stop, it was still almost a mile to the information center and parking lot.

As it was only about 6:30 pm, we decided to hike the Quarry Lookout Loop, which was 4.8 km. The other possibility was the 7.2 Tokorangi Pa Track, but I wanted to be conservative.

It’s not Avenue of the Giants, but the trees are nevertheless of good size.

It’s not Koko Crater, but there were a lot of steps.
The overlook.
View from the overlook. That’s the valley road below.

Towards the end of the Quarry Track, we decided to take an alternate route, and I got worried when we were walking on and on past unmarked forks in the road. We eventually made it back to the info center. I was hoping to use the voices of other hikers as a guide, but the forest was void of human sounds that late in the day.

Someone suggested that we could have a gourmet meal in the park, so that was our plan. When we arrived, we found that the visitor center was out of food (or maybe they only had lunch?), and only had coffee and ice cream. Outside, there was a truck for ice cream, too. And there was popcorn, free for kids, $7/bag for adults. Pass. We sat down and split the leftover Donburi from Merrianne’s lunch. It was a light dinner.

By 8:30 pm, it was getting dusky, and a queue was building for the Canopy Walk. Only a few people at a time are allowed up onto the 700m-long walkway. It took us about half an hour to get to the front and show our tickets.

The camera can barely capture the lighted ornaments. Several displays were laser-projected, and too dim to capture.
There were about 20 swingy bridges in the course, suspended from 12 to 20 meters off the ground. Limit of 8 people on a bridge at a time.
The people waiting to cross this bridge were kind enough to wait while we took this picture.
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