Over the last four days I have languished in the lovely tranquil surroundings of Rotorua, and then near the southern tip of Lake Taupo in Turangai where theTongariro enters the lake. Both locations are noted for trophy trout fishing. In anticipation of visiting these locales, I packed along a special bag with me full of fishing equipment for the pursuit of the "tall tale" or "tall tail." I have not been disappointed exactly in my effort but have now nicknamed myself "Mr. Almost". I have "almost" landed four whoppers, two while wading waist deep in a lake and two in the current of a sneaky, roiling river. Ask any fisherman how it feels to unintentionally release big fish. The mature ones proclaim that it's a privilege and a joy just to be able to hook one. Even the man who manages the lodging where I stay and is himself a guide, has said I've been incredibly lucky to have even hooked these "bad boys". I, on the other hand, who have a long history of being hard on myself, will try one more time tonight at last light to feel the mighty tug again and bring one in.
Also this area is aptly known as the "thermal wonderland". The verdant, luxurious countryside is dotted with collapsed volcanic craters, cold and boiling pools of mud and water, geysers, and steaming fumaroles. The serenity of the landscape is reminiscent of the Baroque depiction of the vanity of life, a beautiful woman on the surface, and a hideous ogre just below the surface. I don't think there is any place in the world where people live amid more seething volcanic and earthquake activity than in New Zealand. Next week I will travel to Christchurch, where there have been two recent devastating quakes, but, in fact, the whole country is one long history of "rock and roll" events. It has crossed my mind that the ground could begin shaking while I am here.
Tomorrow I leave for the capital city of Wellington and then on to the South Island. I am traveling slowly but I fear I am running already short on time. I can already hear voices telling me I should have seen this or that. Right now I consider myself lucky to be able to see the next day, let alone the next week.
The first picture is Lake Taupo which may be as large as Lake Tahoe. The second is a carving from a Maori village I visited, and the third is a boiling hot pond at Wai-O-Tapu, a thermal area in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.