Across the North Island

I don't sleep well in a layby. I was 'on guard' all night. I barely slept and the constant traffic didn't help. Day 2 - we were up quickly and heading for Kerosene Creek first thing in the morning. We noticed a blue-green lake near the entrance of Old Waiotapu Road, steam rising from it. It took several minutes to reach the end of the road and the car park. Soon we were heading for the creek, apart from Henry at first, who stayed behind to keep an eye on the motorhome as this area is prone to crime. Soon a man arrived with a dog that he let out and then sat in his truck. Rather suspicious.

People had come down to the creek early, word has got around on the internet obviously. Sitting in a hot creek is something of  a novelty. The water was warm, not as hot as last time when we came here in the summer. Maybe it varies with the season. The best bit is the little waterfall, sit on the rocks and have warm water cascade around you... wonderful.
Several hours of driving followed, as we made our way to Napier. The scene changed from flat farmland to photogenic mountains. We had had to miss Hawkes Bay on our last trip to New Zealand, despite being here for so long and I was determined to see the area, the sunniest of the North Island. True enough, the sun shone as we walked along the Marine Parade. When we had arrived in Auckland, I had six layers on - it had been snowing in Britain. Now we were strolling about in T-shirts. Napier is arty, colourful, festive and relaxed. Art Deco buildings abound. For lunch we stopped at Zambrero, where they had a sign lit up which read 'Lets Beat World Hunger'. They donate a meal to someone in need for every burrito purchased. Joe had one and the rest of us tried vegetarian tacos. 

Our next task was to get to Upper Hutt by dusk. We were aiming for Kaitoke Regional Park, run by the Department of Conservation. They closed the gate at dusk and we were not sure what counted as dusk. It was a four-hour drive and we had barely enough time. It was nail-biting as we finally got beyond Featherstone and the road wound its way up a mountain and back down again. We made it: they shut the gate at 7pm so plenty of time. A river runs through this park which was the film site for Rivendell. If we had got here earlier we could have got permission from the rangers for a fire down by the river but you had to bring your own firewood. We put our $24 fee in the honesty box and displayed the card provided. 

It quickly got dark and we took advantage of it by stargazing - the Southern sky being unfamiliar, there is no Plough and you have to look for the Southern Cross to orientate yourself.