Most of our trip was spent following the coast in the Northland province (north of Auckland) and then the eastern coast down to Napier. After visiting Napier we spent the last three days driving up the middle of the North Island as we headed back towards Auckland. This part of New Zealand, the Rotorua and Tapau region, is famous for its hot springs and volcanic activity. We had an excellent time touring the geothermal areas and soaking in the local hot springs.
  Here's an interesting fact: 8% of New Zealand's electricity is from geothermal generation from this area. The majority of their electricity comes from. . .

hydro power from the South Island.  Late in the day we drove by the geothermal plant which is hard to miss due to all the massive pipes required to harness this energy but it was getting late and we didn't have time to stop at an information site by the highway.   The next day, after touring a spectacular natural geothermal area called Wai-O-Tapu, with all of its steaming crevices, colourful pools and hydrogen sulfide smells, I wanted to drive back to the geothermal power plant info site.  Carolyn and the kids were happy to be dropped off at a small hot spring resort located in a beautiful valley and I excitedly back tracked about 40km to learn more about how geothermal energy is harnessed.  Well, 40km and 45minutes later I drove into the parking lot (which looked rather vacant) and approached the front doors to be welcomed by a sign that says,  "sorry - we are closed today due to a power outage". I was pretty disappointed!!  I don't know if the sign was a joke but the doors were locked and nobody was around.  I stood there for a couple of minutes peering through the doors looking for any signs of life to no avail.   I turned around and headed back to join the gang at the hot springs.   Oh well, so much for gaining more knowledge (this time).  At least I tried.
M.L. Addison
11/8/2011 04:03:33 am

What a great read. John you should write a book!
I just arrived in Florida so am reunited with my computer & able to read all your news. Thanks for writing such interesting stuff, keep up the good work.

Angela Haig
11/8/2011 11:00:30 am

Wow you guys, what amazing pictures and wonderful descriptions of the places you are seeing. I am green with envy! Keep it coming! xoxo Angela


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