Monday 14th December.

Tasty breakfast on the deck by the pool first thing and then to Hot Water Beach. Here, two hours either side of low tide, if you dig down even just a few inches into the sand, the geothermal currents underneath produce hot water for you to sit in. There were some very dark clouds around on the short drive to the beach, and by the time we got there the heavens had opened with apparently no sign of easing up, so sadly as we had a long drive ahead, we decided to move on without experiencing Hot Water Beach.

Our drive south, past the huge Coromandel Forest was indeed very scenic. We wanted to visit Moreton Estate Winery, as we have previously bought and enjoyed some of their Hawkes Bay vineyard wine back in England. We enjoyed a tasting session and then a delicious lunch in the nearby town of Bethlehem (keeping in the true Christmas spirit).

Finally we knew we were on the outskirts of Rotorua when we could smell sulphur in the air from the many geysers and hot springs in the area. We had prior-booked into a motel in Rotorua, which proved easy to find and in which we had our own private hot spa pool. Oh boy was it hot!