After feeling rejuvenated by our afternoon in the Spa, Kathryn and I enjoyed a few days exploring local geothermal areas and catching up with office work before our final Rotorua event with Forest and Bird. We always enjoy our F&B events and with the friendliness we’d encountered thus far in Rotorua we had high expectations for another great evening. We were not disappointed and we had to apologise for overrunning by 20 minutes. Everyone was enjoying themselves so much we just didn’t notice the time fly by and again forgot to take photos!

Feeling on top of work and relatively relaxed we planned for a few days hiking in the region starting with Rainbow Mountain, Kerosene Creek and Waiotapu for the first day. Rainbow Mountain is so called for the amazing colour varieties of the rock and soil visible in the cliffs and paths and has stunning outlooks in all directions. We could just about pick out some snowy slopes of Tongariro, but the clouds obscured the peaks which would have made for a truly spectacular view. Kerosene Creek is a very pretty thermal stream that can be bathed in – as with a spot near Waiotapu. There is also an enormous mud pool near Waiotapu that unfortunately we only found out about that evening when back in Rotorua.

After such a lovey day we were looking forward to the rest of our plans as we shared them with Belinda and David who had offered us bed space for a few more days.

Sadly the fates decided that not only would the weather close in a bit, but that we had not been inflicted with enough injury and illness in the last 4 weeks. Kathryn came down with an infection requiring antibiotics so we only ended up doing a short nature walk with Anya and Jamie (Belinda’s children) on Mount Ngongotaha Scenic Reserve and spent half a day doing short walks from car parks around some beautiful lakes and forests to the South East of Lake Rotorua. That’s not to say these days weren’t enjoyable. Far from it, we learned all sorts on the nature walk and were ecstatic to find a seeding fern. These ferns grow sprouts from their own leaves, essentially growing the seedling on the leaf before it hits the ground, giving the seedling a head start over any seed that would need to germinate once it lands on the soil.

Leaving Rotorua we stopped at Hamurana Springs for lunch. We were soon surrounded by ducks, geese, chickens, swans, sparrows and the occasional chaffinch squabbling for scraps and with much amusement to me a very confident chicken jumped up on Kathryn’s leg to steal a chunk of Nashi Pear from her hand! It wasn’t a one off either as we tried again, this time with the video running!

06 Hamanura 02

Click the image to watch the ninja nashi chicken!

Our talks at The House of Science in Tauranga that evening went very well. It was a new experience for us discussing teaching the subject of sharks and conservation with teachers themselves and we found our 2 hours went rapidly. The evening event went smoothly too and the donations tipped our total received from events over the £2000 mark! Perhaps the generosity of our guests was increased by the model shark requisitioned by our host from the marine lab a few doors away.

With Kathryn finishing her course of antibiotics that had also made her allergic to metals – never a dull moment! – we again looked forward to a couple of days exploring the staggering beautiful area around Opoutere. The Opoutere YHA has an astonishingly stunning view over Wharekawa Harbour Reserve. Yet again disaster struck as something small was blown in to Kathryn’s right eye as we walked on the beach. After a number of attempts to wash it out, walking back to the YHA and trying some saline solution I cooked supper while a friendly photographer who happened to have been a nurse before his career change examined her eye. He recommended we get it checked so we drove over what seemed to be the wiggliest road in New Zealand (I’ve driven a few by now so it’s probably a fairly accurate representation!) to Thames. The doctor couldn’t find anything in her eye and suggested that she had a spasming iris that was fine when dormant. Unfortunately of course both eyes work together, so even if keeping one eye shut, the iris will still contract and dilate depending what the other is looking at. As such Kathryn was given some numbing drops (with hilarious effect on her pupil – see below!) and told to come back to see an optometrist in the morning if there was no improvement. We debated finding somewhere to freedom camp in Thames that night as it was by now gone 11pm but the doctor’s confidence that it would be a great deal better after a night’s rest and our desire to have a comfortable night and to be able to relax all morning assuming it was better encouraged us to head back to Opoutere. Sure enough in the morning Kathryn’s eye was vastly improved but we were beginning to wonder what calamity would befall us next and just how soon it would happen!