Rotorua – Taupo

18th-26th July

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Geothermal steam vents and mudpools bubbling away in Rotorua

I stayed an extra night in Rotorua, thanks to Elaine’s hospitality. The boys and I enjoyed meeting you and your pups. Thank you for the chance to do a bit of catch up. Well-stocked, with my route planned, we set off.

Before even reaching the State Highway, we’d been stopped to offer donations of both food and money and I had been convinced to alter my route. The new route plan avoided a couple of hazards I wasn’t aware of and made good sense. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn. Oops!

When I realised what I had done, I stubbornly decided to push on and find a new route through rather than doubling back on myself. It was a messy process but I found another way. It was slightly longer but still through comfortable roads with low traffic volume. So it all worked out ok in the end and as the light began to fail for the day, I chanced upon John who let me park up on the farm at Tumunui. Nice one, universe! And thank you, John.

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Lake Ohakuri. Beauty!

The run through to Lake Ohakuri was a peaceful one. Not many cars, a few friendly people and reasonable weather. A couple of showers, but nothing like what was to come. It was a nice place to unwind. Given that the next day was up the guts of a range of decent hills paved only with gravel, it was a welcome break. The clouds came down and I spent the majority of the climb getting steadily dampened by the mist. Popping out the other end at the Ohakuri Hydroelectric Power Station, the weather deteriorated more. Rain and high winds caused several slips. Hill slides fells away and large trees toppled across the road. Luckily the road crews were on it and everything was cleared up by the time the boys and I pushed through.

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When I stopped for a rest, Mind Junction gave me a free look around. My favourite thing was the Theremin

I couldn’t see a good way around it. It was time to suffer the main highways again. It has to be done sometimes though and coming in to Taupo seems to be one of those times. Trudging along as hundreds of cars whip by at open road speeds, the rain really began to fall this day. Accompanying the rain was a noticeable temperature drop and more wind. Jake hung in there for a while, but he let me know he was done eventually and jumped in the camper to warm up with Piccolo. When Jake calls it quits, you know it’s rough. He generally wants to be where the action is. At one point, I decided we all needed a break and popped into Mind Junction, which was fun.

I ran into a guy called Rusty on the Motu Trail a while ago. Turns out Rusty is one of the owners of Rapids Jet and he offered to donate a free ride when I passed through. Sounded like a plan to me, so I popped on in and got me a jet boat ride on the rapids of the Waikato River. Dave (our driver) aimed us at rocks and massive outcropping trees before pulling away at the last second. Spun us through 180 degree turns and blasted us through the rapids. Unlike rafting, a jet boat can go against the current too, so we got to do it all, not once, but several times. Good times. I definitely recommend it if you are up that way. Thanks guys!

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Gettin’ my jet boat on, courtesy of Rapids Jet and Rusty’s kind donation

As a side note, I’d realised recently that I had to re-secure my brake callipers and needed four screws about 4cms long. For some reason, I found myself thinking about those brakes about 500m before the hill down to Rapids Jet. I said out loud, (mostly because I talk to myself a lot walking around alone so much) “This’d be a good place to find some screws”… for no particular reason. There is the occasional screw, bolt, bracket, odd mechanical thing on the side of the road after all. Lo’ and behold, I came across an obvious spill of screws about 50m from the entrance to Rapids Jet… I found exactly four that were exactly the right length. I also snaffled a couple of assorted lengths for other potential odd repairs. Odd but true.

The National Equestrian Centre is just up the road and let me camp out on their grounds. Managed to get some of my laundry dry there, which may not sound too exciting, but with days on end of rain and no real way to dry stuff, you learn to appreciate the small things. Cheers, Mark. Sunshine on the way in meant even more drying and a little solar power. Winning!

Somehow, I managed to drag the two-and-a-half hour walk to Taupo out to four hours and when I was coming in, the boys at Taupo Bungy offered me another thrill ride. Strangely, I wasn’t feeling it and declined, which is weird. I don’t really know why. I’ve done a bungy and skydived, but for some reason, I was nervous and just not feeling like that sort of thing that day. Strange. Still, the offer was very kind and I appreciated it.

Angela and Sean were great enough to let me park up at their place for a couple of days in Taupo. Thanks guys. CARE NZ was next on my list of things to see and do. I actually ended up spending a good portion of the day with Helen (Operations Manager) because I came with her to rescue a family of pups and their mum, plus she introduced me to Taupo’s “bike guy”.

I needed to do some maintenance on The Chariot, including re-securing the one of the brake callipers and replacing both wheels. I’d managed to buckle both of them somewhere along the way and Charlie the Chariot was rolling on borrowed time. Luckily, Allan has found that he has followed a series of unintended events to become a bike recycler. Mostly for the love of it and out of a kind of civic duty, he takes old bikes (such as those donated to CARE NZ) and fixes them up (or helps me fix The Chariot with their bits). Some he sells, but many are given to those in need because he likes it. If you have any spare bikes you were thinking of dumping or selling, consider contacting Allan (027 448 8805) instead. Cheers Allan. Lovely to have met you and thank you for your help.

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Allan- Taupo’s bike guy. Very generous and a genuinely good dude

Taupo RSPCA is a purpose-built facility with well-designed cat and dog accommodation. Dogs have runs which can be open to an outside area, or closed off for cleaning etc. The cat apartments include regular household furniture for a homely feel and I really enjoyed the artwork painted on the walls. Surgeries are done at a local vet surgery but they have great isolation facilities and are visited every week by a vet for general health care and vaccinations.

Those who might like to help can donate via Give-a-Little or through their Facebook page. Volunteers are always welcome and foster carers are so important for providing animals the chance to prepare for a new home life.

Helen had also connected me with Quintin at the Camelia Court Motel. He had been following the campaign and offered me a couple of free nights’ accommodation in one of their rooms. Usually, I decline offers of a room, in favour of keeping a routine for the dogs to count on. I chose to make my third exception to that rule. I needed to air out the bedding after several damp days and I felt that taking a couple of days to just be “normal” might be a good idea. So the boys and I retreated to a home-like environment for a bit of home-like routine (i.e. a radical change for us) and a bit of computer work catch-up. Thanks for a chance to hide away with a few more luxuries than usual.

In some ways, it was hard to leave the thought-free ease of normal. Another part of me was screaming to get back on the road and intentionally creating life rather than coasting. With that thought in mind, I headed down to the lake and beyond.

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