When we woke up rain was pouring from the sky once again. I checked the forecast for the following day. We were scheduled to go on a Swimming With Wild Dolphins tour in Tauranga the following day. I wondered if that would still occur in the rain. The forecast revealed not only rain, but also thunder was predicted. Eric went to the office to call the company to see what was going on. As we feared, the dolphin company was canceling the boat (they had emailed Eric, but he hasn’t checked his mail since America). Disheartened we attempted to make plans for some white water rafting south of Tauranga and away from the thunder, but as it turned out all the class 4-5 rapids trips weren’t going out because the rivers were low.

We puttered about and eventually concluded that we’d climb Tauhara Mountain on the edge of Taupo since the rain had receded. The Trail head is at the end of Mountain Rd. A sign indicates that this is Moari Land and to stay on the track. The Track itself begins as a wind dirt road though fenced farmland with…. more sheep. We walked along wondering if you were going the right way. The road kind of ended, but there was what seemed to be a path leading through an open gate and through and empty cow pasture. We trekked up the rolling hills toward the mountain. Views of the Lake abounded as we climber higher. Then the trail narrowed and we headed into the forest.

We were definitely on the trail, but it is not cared for like the National Park Track. It is washed out in some areas, steep at times and very narrow. Sometimes there is a fork in the road, but the two direction will always rejoin. Take the path of least resistance. Rain began to fall again and the wind suddenly picked up amazing speed. Trees creaked and bent in the wind as we traversed across the side of the mountain and finally summited. Clouds had rolled in by then, so the views were absent as the winds slashed at us. There is a geological survey marker on top which helps measures plate tectonic movement. We stayed a bit before heading back down. My GPS battery rain out after we summited but the total track was about 5 miles with a 1800ft ascent.

We drove north to Rotorua. Rain bashed our window and the wind took on cyclone strength. We passed Rotorua stopping once at the Visitor center hoping to get ideas for the next few days. No luck. We were definitely happy that we did not have a stay at Rotorua on our itinerary. It is a large town and even larger tourist trap. It is famous for the zorbe and Maori concerts ($165+). We decided to stop at Mamaku Blue Blueberry Farm to taste some wine and berry products. The signs made the shop sound impressive, but it was very sparse. The wine, though made with berries, was not sweet which was a pleasant surprise.

back on Route 36 we drove through farmland as usual until we were stopped by a pickup truck in the middle of the road. The officical informed up that the road was closed because of a slide in the gorge. We would have to turn around and go back to Rotorua, go all the way around the lake and head up Route 33 instead. He urged us to hurry. Apparently they were unprepared for so my rain and wind. Slides and floods were everywhere and many roads were already blocked.

We retraced our steps and finally made it to the coast We followed the Pacific Coast Highway to Tauranga which, to my disappointment, is a rather large city. Our room at YHA Tauranga is huge and spacious… almost like a hotel room. All the other private rooms had almost no floor space. I drove to the supermarket about a mile or two away and picked up some hokey pokey again.Hopefully there will be something to do tomorrow in all this rain.

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