Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day3 in NZ: Tokaanu and Mt. Ruapehu (Part I)

Our journey continued on Day 3 and the first stop was hot springs at the tokaanu region.  We took a 20 min loop walk outside Tokaanu Thermal Pools, and it was amazing to see steaming hot mineral ponds set in sinter basins and spluttering mud pools amidst the native bush.  It is hard to tell the actual temperature of the water by just looking at the ponds, although it is obviously not a good idea to test it by sticking fingers in--some water are actively boiling, some produces steams as shown in the picture, and others emits a slight smell of sulfur. 

Maori people in the region has used this hydrothermal energy for hundreds of years for bathing, cooking and even dyeing of clothes, and hot thermal springs are famous for their therapeutic uses. We hired a private pool for 20 minutes (picture on the right--can you see Yoyo? She looked sad because she was not allowed to jump in), which is their default length of time.  I suppose it is probably not a good idea to soak in hot water for much longer?  After all, the temperature of the natural mineral pools is somewhere around 39~41 C.  During the 40 minutes, we had to jump out several times to take a break--it reminded me of our sauna experience in Sweden...

We stayed at Discovery Lodge for the night.  The experience of staying at our studio chalet at Discovery Lodge is the best I've ever had for adventurous accomodation.  Not only we had a view of Mt Ruapehu (hiding behind the clouds between the bush on the left and the tree on the right in the picture) outside our window, the room is so perfectly designed and we got everything we need in this 20 m², including a hot plate for cooking a proper dinner.

After checking in at early afternoon and having a nap, we headed to Mt. Ruapehu for a hike in later afternoon.  The hiking trip deserves a post of its own.

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