We spent another day in Rotorua and visited a "geothermal park" and another wildlife park.  The geothermal park had lots of boiling mud and hot water pools all giving off sulfurous steam.  They also had an associated spa where you could engage in a private mud bath...but we passed on that!  The tour did have an interesting side effect and we later read an article in the Weekend Press in Christchurch that hydrogen sulfide gas has been linked to male sexual arousal.  Well, that must have been the reason then!

A bubbling sulfurous pool of mud

You can see the sulfur deposits at all of the vent openings

No such side effect with the visit to the wildlife park.  There were lots of unique New Zealand creatures on display...Kea, an alpine parrot; Tuatara, a kind of reptile; Kaka, another kind of parrot; Kereru, a NZ pigeon that is about 4 times the size of the common pigeon; Weka, a flightless bird that looks somewhat like a rail; and, of course, the Kiwi.

This is a Weka, sometimes mistaken by tourists for a Kiwi, but active during the day.

This particular park had a breeding program for kiwi and also had a walk through enclosure we could visit at night and observe kiwi in action...right there in front of you, less than an arm's length away, without any barrier between you and the bird.  It was pretty interesting!

This is a Kiwi.

From Rotorua we went down the center of the North Island and visited Tongariro National Park where we met up with a friend of some of our RV friends from Polson.  We had a great dinner with Hamish and enjoyed his stories of life in New Zealand.  He lives in the shadow of Ruapehu, a 2797 meter volcano that last erupted in 1996!

Mt. Ruapehu , a popular ski area in winter.

Here's a waterfall that we hiked to in Tongariro NP.

Then it was on to Wellington for a couple of days where we would eventually board a ferry for the trip across to the South Island.  Wellington is the capitol of New Zealand and the home of a fabulous museum called Te Papa Tongarewa.  It is filled with objects related to NZ history and culture...we spent an entire day there and could have gone back for more.

On Thursday, we made our 3 hour ferry trip across the Cook Strait.  Some of the rental car companies do not allow their cars on the ferry, so you have to return your car in Wellington and pick up another in Picton.  The company we rented from, Europecar, had no such restriction, so our car and all our "stuff" went with us.

This is a view of the South Island as the ferry makes its way to Picton.

We've had a great time on our three days on the South Island...but that story will have to wait until next time...while our adventure continues.

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