Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Easter Holiday

Here at the Pacific Area Office we had a four day weekend so we decided it was time for a little holiday.  We drove and took Elder and Sister Wilkins with us down south.  We left the office at noon on Thursday, April 2, 2015, packed a lunch and headed to Pokeno.  We stopped there and had lunch and then ice cream.  This is the cheapest place we have found to buy ice cream cones.  Most people stop here on the way home from the Temple because it is half way between Hamilton and Auckland.

Nada, Reed and Elder Wilkins having two scoops of yummy Tip Top ice cream.

We stopped in a little town to check out some Green Stone and shells.  They had these sculptures and building signs made out of corrugated steel.  Below is a picture of a sheep and a sheep dog.  The sheep was originally designed for a gentleman who had a wool shop there and then the city fathers had the sheep dog built.  Now the sheep is an information center.

We then drove all the way to Lake Taupo for the evening.  We stayed at the Ascot Motel and walked down to the lake after dinner.  It was pretty dark so we couldn't see a lot but it was calm and peaceful.

On Friday morning we had a quick snack in the room, checked out and headed towards Crater's of the Moon Geothermal Park. First we stopped to take some pictures of Huka Falls but there was so much early morning mist you could not see the river or the falls.  

You can see the beautiful foliage.  These fern trees are so beautiful here.  The sun was just burning off the mist but not in the river basin yet.
The leaves are changing because it is Fall here and the nights are definitely getting cooler.

Elder and Sister Wilkins and Nada with the mist covering the river below.
Diane took pictures of Reed taking pictures.  He is usually behind the camera and this time he is the subject.
You can see the sun is shining through the trees.

We arrived around 8:30 a.m. at the Crater's of the Moon walk and headed off for an hour adventure of walking at our own pace and looking around.  It was very peaceful and interesting.  When you got close to some of the craters you could hear the water bubbling under ground but there was no visible sign of any bubbling.  Some of them you could hear and there was not even any steam coming out.   There was still a lot of dew on the ground cover and shrubs and with  the thermal pots shooting up steam was a great sight.

In the picture on the right you can see the morning dew with the steam vents on the side.  It looked like it had been raining but it was all dew.

They had these Danger Hot signs all over.  The boardwalks were very nice and really help to keep people from walking where they shouldn't.
The big hole behind Nada and Diane was a very big hole and you could hear the water bubbling hard.  A few years ago it shot up boiling mud and created a bigger hole but now the mud is dry and you can only hear it underground and see the steam coming out of different vents all around it.

It kind of reminded us of Yellowstone but on a smaller scale.  The smell of sulphur was very mild here.

We then drove to Aratiatia Dam to watch them release the water.  They do this three times a day to let people see what the Waikato River and rapids looked like before the dam was built.

This Aratiatia Dam.  They opened the gates to let out the water at 10:00 a.m.
We hurried over to the other side of the bridge.  The pool of water is very shallow and clear.
 By 10:05 you can see the white water starting to come into the shallow pool of water.
By 10:08 the basin is getting fuller and the water is flowing out down the river.
By 10:10 the basin where the shallow pool was is now full and a roaring river with rapids.
Now you cannot tell there even was just a small basin.  It just looks like a huge river.

By 10:15 most of the rocks are covered and you have white water rapids.  This is when they shut the dam gates and the river slowly dies back down.  By noon they start all over again.

At 10:30 we got on a calm enjoyable boat ride that went up the Waikato River to Huka Falls.  There are a bunch of streams and rivers that run into the Taupo Lake but only the Waikato runs out.

This is the boat we took up the river to the waterfall.  The driver was also the tour guide and he gave us a lot of information about the river, the lake, the first thermal electric power plant built in the world is right on this river.
We all went inside for brief instructions then Nada, Diane & Mike sat outside the rest of the time and Reed kept moving around taking pictures.
There were some beautiful black swans floating on the river.
You can see the leaves changing colors on the different trees along the river bank.
The tour guide moved over to a shallow spot and stopped the engine.  You can see all these Rainbow Trout swimming. The water was very clear and some of them were over 24 inches long.  A fisherman would have loved fishing there.
This black swan has built her next in the river.  She keeps moving the grass to keep it dry so the eggs wont get wet.
We went right under the bridge in the distance. You drive on this bridge to get into Taupo.
Huka Waterfall.  This is where we turn around.  He actually took the boat right into the falls a little ways and kept turning it around so you could take pictures from the front or the back of the boat.
Nada and Diane enjoying the scenery and the beautiful weather!
There is a bridge where you can walk over the falls and enjoy watching them.
Reed and Nada with Huka Falls behind them.
This is when the boat driver pushed right into the Falls.
We did not take the power boat.  They really gave the people a thrill ride but they also got wet.
We watched the dam release the water again at noon.  We went farther down the river to a lookout.  You can see how the river is not very full and the dam with the bridge is in the distance.
In the picture below you can see by 12:15 that it is a white rapid river. and you cannot see some of the huge boulders any more.  It was very fun to watch.

Nada with the Waikato River running farther down the canyon.  The color of the water was so beautiful
We stopped and took a picture of this Prawn Park.  People are out their with their fishing poles and buckets catching prawns and then they cook them up for you  We decided to eat a meat pie and head to Napier.  This was a very full day of seeing new things.

We arrived in Napier around 4:30 p.m.  Checked into our motel, went to the Art Deco Museum to get information, walked back along the beach, had dinner and went to bed tired.

These are some posters in the Napier Art Deco Museum!
A couple of pictures showing the different art deco on the buildings.

Mike, Diane and Nada on the beach just a couple of blocks from downtown Napier.

Reed taking pictures of us.  He makes sure he gets wet in every bay, ocean, or body of water we go to.  He doesn't care if it is cold or not.

It was a beautiful beach.  The sand was black and not sandy but very pebbly.  Never been on one quite like it before.  Not fun to walk on without shoes.
The waves were crashing a little ways off shore and making a wonderful sound. While Nada and Diane walked home along the beach Reed and Mike drove up to the Bluffs.  It is a lookout above Napier and you can see the city and all of Hawks Bay.  It is right above the Harbour.
Saturday April 4, 2015 we got up and ate in our room.  Diane and Nada walked to the Hawks Bay Farmers' Market.  It was very small but had some nice pastries and fruit.  We walked around town and then decided to drive over to Hastings to their Fresh Market.  When we got there it was not on Saturday but Sunday.  We saw a sign for Cape Kidnappers so we decided to go for a drive.

 This is the beach leading to Cape Kidnappers.  You can drive on the beach to get to it but you cannot drive the Church cars on the beach.  Some people were driving four wheelers that they probably rented somewhere.  We walked for an hour and did not make it all the way to the Cape.  Maybe some other time.
 Cyclone Pam that hit Vanuatu in March and did a lot of damage hit this end of New Zealand.  You can see where the tide washed part of the road away.  They have saved enough of it that it is a single car rough road for right now but it only goes into a mobile home park.
 Reed took off his shoes for our walk along the beach. The sand here is smooth like normal sand.
We drove back into Napier to take the Art Deco Walking Tour.  These six houses are called the Six Sisters.  We assume because they were all built at the same time and are very much alike.  They are all businesses now.  Not part of the tour.

 I am just going to put up some pictures of the different Art Deco on the buildings.  There was an earthquake in 1931 that destroyed most of the buildings in Napier.  The buildings that were not destroyed were made of reinforced concrete and did not have big parapets or façade type materials on them.  So when they decided to rebuild Napier they had new building codes.  They could not build any buildings taller than two stories, they had to be made of reinforced concrete and the designs had to be built into the buildings.

Today because of the historic nature of the buildings if you want to paint or fix up a building the colors and designs have to be approved.
 There are a lot of beautiful lead glass windows in some of these buildings.
 Ceiling to one of the big banks in town.  It is unique because of the Maori design.
Nada standing in front of a sun dial.  The ground she is standing on used to be the ocean before the earthquake in 1931.  The wall to her right used to be the ocean wall. Under the grass is where they buried all the rubble from the earthquake and then built the ground up.  Now there is a big staging area for music groups and plays, and this grassy area all along the waterfront that used to be ocean.  They have done a beautiful job with it.  After the earthquake the whole land came up three meters so now they have a lot more usable land.

 Our motel was right on Hawks Bay.  We watched cargo ships come and go from the balcony in our room.

After dinner, Reed and I walked along the boardwalk on the bay and took pictures of the full moon with the lighted Norfolk Pines.  We did this walk all three nights it was so peaceful and beautiful.

Sunday April 5, 2015 Happy Easter!!  This is very early Easter Morning.  This is the view we could see from our bed.  We went to Elder and Sister Wilkins room at 8:00 a.m. and watched the Saturday afternoon session of Conference. 

That was nice.  Then we got in the car and drove up to the Bluffs so Diane and I could see the beautiful lookout.  It was a little cloudy today but still you could see the entire Hawks Bay from Cape Kidnappers to Mahia Point.  We decided since it was Sunday we would just go for a drive and see if we could get to Mahia Point. That drive ended up being six hours round trip.  We stopped and enjoyed a beach and found a couple of seashells there.  Reed of course got a little wet!  We drove as far as we dared.  We ended up on a narrow gravel road and it was getting late so we thought we better turn around.  We did not make it quite to the point but we tried.

 This is a train bridge.  Very picturesque.
 Cyclone Pam caused some big waves and wind here on this beach as well.  It was a very beautiful black sand beach.
 We just walked around for a while and looked for different things like shells, rocks and drift wood.
 Reed getting his feet and pants a little wet.
 A little bit of sun rays coming through the clouds reflecting off the ocean.  It was very beautiful
 As we crossed a small bridge to head back to Napier this was one of the scenes.  This was a river that met up with the bay and a lot of boats were putting in or coming out here.
 We passed this Maori Marae.  This is a traditional Maori gathering place where they put on performances.
This was on the way back to Napier.  Right before sunset with the mountains, ocean, beach and a few spots of sun coming through the clouds.  Perfect end to a perfect day.

We had such a great time.  We got up Monday morning and headed back to Takapuna.  We hit quite a bit of heavy traffic around Hamilton.  We arrived home at 3:30 p.m.  We are so glad we have the opportunity to see some of the beautiful things New Zealand has to offer.  We feel so blessed.  It was a great getaway.  We enjoyed our Easter break, and listening to General Conference and now we are ready to go back to the office and work hard again.  Life is good.  We love you all and hope you had a wonderful Easter Holiday.  We are so grateful for The Atonement and The Resurrection and our Savior Jesus Christ.  We love you all.  Elder and Sister Spencer


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