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The next part of our tour of the North Island took us to a spot recommended to us by our overnights hosts. Sharon and Pete told us we should stop by a nearby dam before we left Taupo. The dam releases water every couple of hours. It used to have a purpose for the releases, but now it seems they just do it for the tourists.
Aratiatia Dam Near Topau
We arrived at Aratiatia Dam near Taupo just before they released the water. There was a pretty large crowd above the dam. Su jumped out of the car to take some video on her phone. I parked and followed. We both gazed down at a blue pool that was rapidly rising. A few minutes later, the whole river was raging with white water.
We decided to venture farther down river as we didn’t quite care for the crowd above the dam. walking down river we saw some little Hobbit holes. Su knocked, but no one was home.
From farther down stream, we were treated with a view back up towards the dam and the rushing river it had created.
The water slowly started to recede after the gates were closed.
The river became a mere trickle on our walk back up to the dam. The lake beneath the gates had shrunk back down. The river became calm and quiet again.
On to Rotorua
We left Taupo and headed in the direction of Rotorua. Su used to live in this area of the North Island, so we knew of a couple of things to see. As you travel nearer and nearer to Rotorua, the smell of Sulfur pots becomes very apparent. We weren’t too keen on visiting any of them. So we continued on until we came upon the Redwood forest.
The native trees in New Zealand grow slowly. The government realized that this would be a problem as more homes were being built. So they started a series of test farms to bring non native trees to New Zealand to provide for the timber industry. Timber has now become one of New Zealand’s top industries.
All over the country side we saw tree farms with straight as an arrow trees that looked incredibly healthy. The Redwoods Treewalk near Rotorua is a walk through the treetops of one of those forests.
Peter Pan Pools
Our last stop for the day were the “Peter Pan Pools.” These pools are fed by a natural spring. The water is crystal clear. The proper name for the area is The Blue Spring at The Waihou Walkway. We took a short walk along the river and gazed a the amazingly clear water.
On to Matamata
Our final destination was our stopover point in Matamata. We had been traveling non stop for over two weeks at this point. When we finally reached Matamata, we decided to take an easier day and explore the town where Su lived and went to school. The familiarity made it easier to explore at a slower pace. Plus, we had to be sure that we were rested and ready to go visit Hobbiton.