I couldn't check in yet so they stored my bag and off I went. I had not planned today. I had decided before arriving to be spontaneous and figure it out when I arrived. I went to the information center, gathered some pamphlets, and made a decision.
I was going to see the Manuka Honey place. I decided to take the walking trail next to the Waikato River, a longer route than the road but I was sure it was going to be more interesting. On the way I was supposed to pass something called the Huka Falls.
I have never see a river more clear in my life. You could easily see the bottom of it because the water was so pure.
I crossed the bridge over the falls and walked to the honey place. They had bee hived you could see inside, with information about the bees on the walls. Everywhere you could find honey products. I tested some lotions, sampled some honey types, even tried mead. The honey wasn't my favorite. I guess I like my American processed honey. But I learned that the honey takes on different flavors based on the flowers and pollens the need gather. It is not any man made flavor added, but the natural raw flavors of each type of honey! And the mead... I am not an alcoholic but I could drink the mead I sampled all day. It reminded me Of wine, but without that cringing face pucker I usually have to try to hold back. The first one was somehow processed through oak tree and after the mead sweetness there was a woody aftertaste. I can't explain how you can know what a tree tastes like, but that's what it was. And the one flavored with berry was a subtle kind of sweet. Seriously delicious.
I bought some hokey pokey. A candy apparently commonly known and loved in New Zealand. I snacked on my hokey pokey as I took the faster road route back to the hostel. It sprinkled a bit on the way but it was cool and felt nice with the sun heating my skin. I was rewarded for my route change with a spot to overlook Lake Taupo and the town and see the Tongariro Alpine Crossing across the lake in the distance. I also got to see this sign (which I think some Americans need):
At this point I was racing a rain storm back to the hostel to finally check in. I got to the center of town and managed to grab some sushi and seaweed salad for dinner on the way. I had beat the storm by the grace of God!
I got checked in to the 3 bed gal's room. Ate my dinner. Walked to Countdown to grab some snacks for the walk he next day and some fruit for dessert. Came out to rain that wasn't done yet. This REI rain jacket is one of the best investments I have ever made.
I settled in for the night. I got the transportation and accommodation plans settled for the rest of my time in New Zealand. Just some activities left to plan.
Tomorrow I go to Tongariro Alpine track so I can climb Mount Doom. After loads of walking today I have a guess as to how much pain I will be in after the approx. 20 km walk. I may not make it to the summit of Mt. Ngaurahoe but I will at least climb halfway. I won't suffer pain for 150ish days but for one day to cross something of my life to do list? Absolutely!
And to add to the LOTR nerdiness, I decided what to do with my one full day in Wellington. I am doing the Rover full day Lord of the Rings tour. I saw the Shire, why not other places like Frodo's tree, Lothlorien, Mina's Tirith, etc.? There are some parts kf the tour at WETA, the Hollywood for New Zealand. I am a movie buff, I admit it. And with this tour I know I will see beautiful parts of the area around the city I would have missed trying to see all in my own. And if its centered around movies I love... Why complain?
So that's it. The North Island is coming to an end. And there is not enough time to devote to the South Island the way I would like. Plane ticket prices and holidays... What can you do?