Day 17 - Tauranga, New Zealand - Walking in a Thermal Wonderland...

We continued cruising north along the east side of New Zealand's North Island overnight, traveling nearly 200 miles to the port of Tauranga.  Tauranga is in the Bay of Plenty, on the south-eastern edge of Tauranga Harbour.  It's a lovely town right on the water, according to our guides lots of people come to Tauranga for vacations and the like.   Our tour today was inland to the Rotorua region, first for a lunchtime cruise on Lake Rotorua followed by a long hike through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Park.  We had been told and all knew that New Zealand was seismically active and sitting on a a string of active and semi-active volcanoes but this tour really made it obvious!

Our cruise ship, the MS Sirena, tied up in Tauranga Pretty beach/picnic area along the shore.

Looking out over Tauranga Harbour Hop on the bus Gus... (name that tune)

On the bus enroute to Lake Rotorua, pretty scenery... ... and more cattle.

Arriving in Rotorua... ... and our first view of Lake Rotorua.  Not the Great Lakes but big enough!

Lots of sports and activities ongoing on, below, and above the lake. Boarding our lake cruise ship, the Lakeland Queen.

Leaving the pier, it's a paddleboat! Lunch onboard was good and substantial.

Entertainment onboard was native Maori music and dancing. Passengers were welcome to participate, guess who wanted to try the dancing? :)

Back on shore after our lake cruise.  This is the Rotorua Museum, it was heavily damaged in a 2016 earthquake.  Closed pending architectural accessment.

Big public park on the shore of Lake Rotorua Sculpure on the lawn.

Arriving at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Poster explaining the (very) active volcanic zone below this region of New Zealand.  Yikes!

Smoke on the water! Close up of the "You-are-here" map.  Double-yikes!

Poster describing all the volcanic craters in the park... ... and a real-life example.

Another active crater... An active sulphur spring.

Warning sign.  Per our guide, over the years a few folks have fallen in.  Third degree burns followed by death... not good. Another dramatic view of one of the craters.

After the long trip back, enjoying our dinner aboard our cruise. A (very good) schnitzel for me.  Let's see, executive chef is French, the ship is registered in the Marshall Islands, it is owned by a American company, and currently operating off the coast of New Zealand.  Our server was from Rumania.   A little confusing but the schnitzel was still pretty good...