Another early start as today we had a 'date' with a Dam at 10am! We were packed up, checked out and in the car just after 8am.
Today we were driving to Napier. However yesterday Shirley had given us a number of 'must see's' en route, along with detailed and clear instructions of how to get there.
Our first stop was the Wai-O-Tapu mud pools. These were quite impressive considering they were just on the side of the road. The mud was gurgling and splashing quite high. We would have liked to have had time to visit the mud wonderland centre but didn't have time.
The next stop was the one we had a deadline for. Four times each day the water is released from a dam which then generates enough force for nine Power Stations further down stream. We were told it was quite spectacular and plus it had featured in The Hobbit which excited Karen.
We arrived in good time and took the short trail to the viewing point. We were overlooking a small stream that went through a gorge. After sounding a siren we could see the dam had opened and waited. For a while we were underwhelmed. Then as the top pool filled up, there was a fantastic cascade as the water tumbled and completely filled the gorge beneath us. It was a wow moment, seeing the force of the water and the speed it flowed and filled all the gorge.
From here we went to Haku Falls which was further upstream. From here it was easy to see how the dam needs to let water through periodically. Something like the equivalent of 220,000 litres per second pass through it. The volume and speed of the natural flow was amazing.
We then drove to Tapuo and parked in front of the enormous Lake. For the first time this trip we ended up eating our Lunch in the car as there was a downpour of rain. Once it stopped we had a lovely wander around the Town. It was full of interesting and different shops.
After this we completed the journey to Napier where we checked into the Shoreline Motel on the Marine Parade overlooking the South Pacific. The drive into Napier had reminded us of Great Yarmouth with what looked like Breydon Water as we approached and the port area. Our room was a spacious one bedroom studio with an enormous Jacuzzi in the bedroom area.
The weather by now had changed to deep blue sky and was very warm but windy. We walked along the front and were very impressed by it. It was clean and had some lovely facilities. There was no beach as such (grey gravel). After the obligatory purchased in the visitor centre we wandered through the pleasant town admiring the Art Deco buildings that remained after the 1931 earthquake. Karen was excited to find her first Starbucks for a while but then disappointed in that it had closed on our walk back. Again everyone we spoke to was very friendly. Considering though that this is still the peak summer season everywhere was very quiet. We searched everywhere for a statue of Iain, but sadly it must have been put into storage for safe-keeping.
We came back to our room to catch up with some admin (does it ever stop), before heading back down the front to The Rose pub which was part of the Art Deco Masonic Hotel. We ordered some food and realised that a quiz had just started. This was a quiz in the form of bingo. It was very clever as you were given a bingo sheet of answers and first one to get a line etc won prizes. Not every answer was on each sheet, some answers could be one or another, and some answers fitted more than one question. Although we were late and had missed some questions we were told we could still win. It was really good fun and we were one question away from getting a prize. These apparently are run all over Oz & NZ and so we will look out for one again.
A brisk and windy walk along the front took us back to our room.