First thing this morning we drove down to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. We popped in to check out the mud pools on our way which due to all the rain were under a little more water than usual but still looked great, bubbling away constantly.
We entered the park a bit after 9am and decided not to bother going to see the geyser as I had seen it before and it's not that great. This meant that we missed a lot of the crowds too which was even better. It was a bit chilly in the morning but warmed up throughout the day.
We walked all the tracks in the park seeing all the different thermal induced phenomena. Notable mentions go to the Champagne Pool and the Devil's Bath which both have really strong colours in them and look other-worldly. We spent just over two hours there and by the time we were leaving it was quite busy.
We went back into town and had some lunch before heading out the other side of town to Wingspan, the National Bird of Prey Centre. They run a program that rehabilitates injured wild birds, rescues orphaned eggs and chicks, and breeds birds for eventual release into the wild.
We looked through the museum which has information on the history of falconry. At the right time of year you can see eggs and chicks here too. Next, we checked out the aviaries which were mostly home to New Zealand Falcons but there were also Australasian Harriers, Barn Owls and Moreporks. We were quite taken with a little Morepork called Whetu-Kura who sat right at the fence and entertained us by bouncing around, bobbing his head up and down and eating his dinner. He was such a little cutie.
At 2pm we went outside to watch the falconry display which was fantastic. The trainer got her mate, Hisan, a New Zealand Falcon, to show us just how fast and agile these birds are. At the end we even got to hold him while he ate chicken off our glove. It was a really cool little centre with lots of info and operating for a really good cause. There are only an estimated 10,000 New Zealand Falcons left in the wild making it less common than even the Kiwi. Apparently 200 per year are still shot by people trying to protect their chooks which just boggles the mind.
After this we went back into Rotorua and found the Hunting and Fishing store which was much bigger than the one we went to before. While browsing Dad heard a voice he recognised and it was the guy who does the tips on the show Hunting Aotearoa and what do you know he was giving someone tips! Inspired by this, when we left we headed for the studio where they produce the show but it was hidden away behind some other businesses in an industrial part of town.
We returned to the motel for a quick spell and a snack (heated Cookie Time cookie anyone?) Then we jumped back in the car and went out to Lake Tarawera. We stopped at the lookout which has a magical view of the lake, then headed down to the shore where we saw the Rotorua Water Duck, a bus that drives into the water and then becomes a boat. Might have to put it on the list for next time I'm in NZ because it looked like fun.
By this time it was getting dark so we went back into town and got Subway for tea after roaming the streets just trying to find a pizza for under $30! Off to Taupo tomorrow.