Easter, 2003

Nearly two thousand years ago there was a volcanic explosion of astonishing scale.

Molten material soared skyward at the speed of sound, cooled and then rained down darkly on this fair land, leaving much of the North Island a dusty desert.  It is thought that enough material was ejected to bury the whole of New Zealand to a depth of 45 metres. Now think about that for a second. An are nearly 20% larger than the UK, covered to a depth of 45 metres? Clearly this was an explosion that would have made Santorini or Krakatoa seem like party-poppers in comparison.

Lake Taupo is the modern day result. Not actually a water-filled crater but a 606 Sq. Km. top to the massive volcano lurking below the surface. Fortunately, New Zealand had no inhabitants then to witness the birth of Lake Taupo, but this morning as I sat at McDonalds McCafe enjoying my McCoffee, McMuffin and McNapkin, I looked out over this vast lake and I confess to a slight shiver as I peered intently towards the centre of the water hoping not to glimpse any renewed volcanic activity.

Working backwards, to reach Taupo we had travelled up from Napier, down from Gisborne, West from the East Cape and prior to this we had been around the Coromandel peninsular and then South to Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa. Tonight we are at lake Rotoma near Rotorua and destined for Tauranga again tomorrow night.

Home is an 8 metre campervan equipped with everything we could wish for. Well nearly… I could do with high speed internet access and we wouldn’t mind having guaranteed sunshine outside the door, but otherwise it is a very pleasant home on wheels. We haven’t named our home but it is officially called jus’ lookin’ which I imagine must confuse French visitors who may be left wondering what a lookin is, how you make a sauce out of it and why it is being transported around the country in a luxury motorhome.

Now, 8 metres isn’t that large a vehicle but it has taken me a little time to get used to, particularly the width and the height. I have to confess that within the first few days of picking it up we, (oh alright), I had demolished a bus stop sign in Auckland, lost an arm-wrestling competition with a canopy outside the front of a large department store in Tauranga and if the owner of that red sports car manages to re-attach his bumper and catch up with me I’m going to be dead meat.

As most of you will know, New Zealand (by dint of geographical location) gets to start each new day ahead of the rest of the world, so where better to get the jump on everyone, than the East Cape of the North Island? Well, given there isn’t much there, we chose to celebrate in Tolaga Bay, (or Two Lager Bay as we felt it should be called), just South of the East Cape. Today’s picture is of Captain William in his chair celebrating the new dawn over the Pacific from the shores of Tolaga Bay 233 years – almost to the day, after Captain James Cook dropped by to tell the local Maori people, that Whitby was nice and warm and they in turn taught him that you don’t get ought for nought when he wanted to buy supplies.


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