30.08.2010 - 05.09.2010 14 °C
The theme for this past week was illness as each of us was hit with a cold. But that didn't stop us from getting out and infecting others, and we ended up with a fairly exciting week filled with a return to nice scenery, a taste from home, proud parent moments, and another visitor. Here we go:
Jack blazed the illness trail on Sunday last, and by Monday he was not fit to go to school. Tim re-arranged his hectic schedule and put his nursing skills to work to allow Jack the best opportunity to recover. The two of them spent the day reading and playing chess and going through an entire box of tissues. By Monday evening Jenn began to feel her cold starting, followed closely by Tim on Tuesday. By Tuesday night Bronte was fully infected as well.
Wednesday had Tim once again juggling his commitments to stay home with Bronte, and it worked, for she felt much better by Thursday morning. Thursday's rain wasn't forecast to start until noon, so Tim dove at the chance to escape the house and motored the Capella to Rotorua to hike Rainbow Mountain, which you can see overhead here. Almost one hour from locking up the Capella, Tim arrived at the summit - a towering 748 metres above. On the way up it became abundantly clear why the rise was named as it was. Even the mud on the trail was an interesting mix of reds, orange, brown, and yellow. There will be more to say about Rainbow Mountain in a future post as it is a place to where the whole family will return. Here's a couple of views from the summit:
Following his descent, Tim drove down the road to check out another spot the family will return to - a hot water stream. We'll hold off telling you any more or showing photos of that, as it will be a major focus of an upcoming post. The rain conveniently began to fall as Tim climbed back into the car and made his way back to Tauranga. Thursday got a lot better that evening, as it was the night for Jack's choral performance with the school choir. The primary schools in Tauranga have a wonderful gig going when it comes to choir - they put on a common performance at the local theatre. Throughout the year each choir has been working on songs fitting the theme of the performance, and this year it was The Beatles. Each school choir (from about seven different schools) all assemble on stage together. Some of the songs are sung together, but each school choir has a turn coming down to the front of the stage to strut their individual stuff. They all did really well, and we had a wonderful time watching Jack and the others entertain. Here's a couple of photos and a video:
On Friday it was Jenn's turn to stay home sick from school. She had been battling all week to stay upright, but a day of rest at home was what she needed. She rested, but as she is a teacher she was compelled to work for a good chunk of the day as well.
On Saturday we experienced something rather unusual. There was an odd, bright orb shining in the sky. As we hadn't seen anything like it during a weekend in quite some time, we made some enquiries and discovered that it was the sun!! We got rather charged up about that, so after soccer we flung ourselves into the loving seats of the Capella, and headed to Rotorua. We have mentioned Rotorua often in this blog, as there is simply so much to see and do there. As our time is steadily ticking by in New Zealand we decided that some of the things on our Rotorua list needed to be experienced before we run out of time. Our first stop was the Buried Village, which you can see overhead here. The land protrusion into the lake on the right edge is Mt Tarawera, and factors importantly into the history of the Buried Village. You may recall on a posting long in the past that we wrote of Mt Tarawera after we saw it as part of our tour of the Waiwangu Thermal Area. Mt. Tarawera is a "dormant" volcano which, in 1886, blew up. They thought it was dormant back then too. With the eruption, the pink and white terraces (one of the natural wonders of the world) were destroyed, and the village of Te Wairoa was buried in ash, rock, and lava. Parts of the village have been unearthed and this is what we toured through. It was interesting seeing the half-buried remains of Whare (Maori houses), a flour mill, a hotel, and other landmarks. Here's a photo:
The last bit of the tour took us down a trail past Wairere Falls (not Waiere Falls that we have visited numerous times previously). This is a 30 metre tumble for the Wairoa Stream over the Waitoharuru cliffs. Although this part of the tour was a short one, it felt really great to get back to hiking, which had been all but eliminated from our routine over the past months and months and months and months of rain. Here are some photos:
We dug ourselves out of that attraction, and headed down the road to have a gander at Lake Tarawera. We paused at a lookout and grabbed this photo:
Back into the Capella we climbed, and then drove back down the road in the direction we'd come to arrive at the other hike for the day. We parked on the shores of the Blue Lake, which you can see overhead here. We walked the trail around the lake, pausing at the halfway mark for this photo:
Back in Tauranga, Bronte made a very tasty mushroom pasta for dinner. The other significant event on Saturday was of course the sizable earthquake. The quake registered 7.1 and was centred in Darfield which is about 40 km west of Christchurch on the South Island, and which you can see overhead here. We live in Tauranga which you can see at the top of the map in that link, some 730 km north of Darfield. We didn't feel the quake at all, but our thoughts are with our fellow kiwigians who are dealing with the damage.
On Sunday we headed out to Greerton (a suburb of Tauranga) to splash around in the community pool. We took along a mask and snorkel so that we could all practice our technique in preparation for our upcoming trip to Australia (only three weeks away!). We can't wait to experience the Great Barrier Reef, and want to spend less time fiddling with equipment and more time chasing after the white-tipped reef sharks with the bloody chum that we'll carry with us to attract them. Leaving the pool, we booted over to SpecSavers to pick up Bronte's glasses, now outfitted with her prescription. Ready for the unveiling? Here is Bronte's new look:
Sunday lunch saw 3/4 of the family dining on Kraft Dinner. We were fortunate to have acquired three boxes of the stuff from some Kiwis recently returned from the Great White North, and every mouthful was savoured from box #1. Tim had a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Following lunch, Tim and Jack made cookies. The stage was then set for the next in our line of visitors, and later in the afternoon we picked her up from Bronte's school. This coming week will see the 2010 AIMS Games being held in Tauranga, and we signed up to billet a student from another school. Our student visitor is here from Christchurch where she lives. We weren't sure that she'd be coming because of the earthquake, but she reported that her house wasn't too badly damaged (a few cracked windows and a couple of doors that will no longer close). After bringing Fuotai to the house and settling her in, we had a quick spagetti dinner and then headed back out to participate in the opening ceremonies for the AIMS Games (btw, AIMS stands for Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools). What a spectacle! There are just under 4000 students taking part in competition within 14 different sporting events from Squash to Waterpolo. Our billet is on the basketball team for her school. The opening ceremonies was an eclectic mix of entertainment and messages. The gig opened with a set by the musical group RPM, the lead singer of which was also a soloist in Jack's choral performance mentioned above (although this kid goes to a different school than Jack). The band is made up of a 14 year old basist, and three boys aged 12 - it was amazing to hear how many songs they played! This was followed by the Otumoetai College Kapa Haka group which demonstrated a traditional Maori dance and haka. We also heard an inspirational talk from Danyon Loader, a kiwi swimmer who hauled in the medals at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. There was a performance by beatboxer Andre Harris, who you can see in a video clip doing his thing here. Although it may not be your thing, it's truly amazing to know that this guy is making all of these sounds himself simultaneously. Finally, there was a performance by 2009 World Hip Hop Champions (yes, apparently there's a title for that) - Sweet and Sour. What a great event!
As we're sure you'll agree, it was a fantastic week. We're hoping that the coming week will bring us more sun, although that's unlikely. Despite that, we'll tell it like it is same time next week.