Rotorua and Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

My last post while travelling in the South Pacific. Richard went home yesterday and I am driving around the North Island of New Zealand for 2 days. Today I went to Roturua. It is the home of a large lake in a volcanic region. Scalding hot mineral water from the earth's core oozes up in Rotorua and the Polynesia Day Spa has incredible pools. The actual location was founded by a catholic priest in 1878 who had severe arthritis, and after dipping in the natural pools was able to walk again. It turns out I had a second larger cut on my head from Samoa, diving in underwater caves. The blood was still caked in my hair and the mineral pools washed it all free and my head feels much better. I have two large bumps on my head now but the cuts seemed to be healing nicely without danger of infection (fingers crossed). Of course, the tetanus shot I got helps calm my nerves but made my arm and liver feel like crap for two days. I feel so stupid for diving in that cave when I knew it was likely I would freak out and hurt myself due to claustrophobia. It was a very vivid event and scared me so bad, I could in fact have drowned. It was reckless of me.

I left the spa to go north to the Bay of Plenty named so by Captain James Cook in laes 1700s because of its wealth of forests and resources. The pictures are from Mt Maunganui, Tauranga. The island full of pine trees (boat in foreground) you see is not set up for tourism as local tribes lives there and don't welcome tourists. It is called Matakana Island. I will be heading north to circle the Coromandel peninsula before flying home to Los Angeles late tomorrow.

I have never been so sad leaving a location as I felt leaving that mineral spa today!

Thanks for following the trip on my blog. I will post the videos in September and some educational posts about the countries as well as a intro by Richard, the producer.

The very last picture is from Fiji. We only spent one night and it was the most tourist friendly of all the islands. Even if I am one who loves off the beaten path locations, it was amazing nonetheless. The kind of place one would have a romantic holiday. Perhaps I will return one day if I ever get married.


Ile Des Pins, New Caledonia

Here is a few images from Ile Des Pins or the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. It was the  most beautiful location of the entire trip to the South Pacific, and one of the most magical places I have ever been. I took amazing footage and images. But it was not meant to be photographed. The first time in my life, my SD card automatically deleted itself and began to write fresh from the very end of the day. All I have of that wonderful day on the island is a few clips of the evening and a few pics. Here are a couple. I will try to get a pro to retrieve from SD card but it does not look promising as I have already ran several programs and found a ton of old files saved on the disk, but none of the images from that day! I actually visited Ile Des Pins over a week ago but was so depressed about losing the footage I did not post this till today, the last night of the trip. I will write a blog entry about the day soon however. Look for it in September or earlier. The pic that looks like a sunset in fact is a moon rise during the amazing super moon of August 10, 2014. The girls I met on the ferry back to Noumea. We ended up talking and going for a drink later. They were really kind. Both from mainland France.

Upolo Island, Samoa

Here are some images from our day on the island of Upolo in Samoa. It is just a 30 minute flight to American Samoa but the flights were full so we could not make it over there. Our guide told us the actor called the Rock in the USA is Samoan. We went to a underwater cave at a Methodist Theological Seminary and because of my claustrophobia and freaked out underwater and breathed a lung full of water and smashed my head against rocks. I went to the local hospital since it was bleeding but did not require stitches, just shaved a small patch of my head and cleaned it.

We went to the most easterly part of the island called Lalomanu where each clock day of the world begins. The international date line lies just on its outer edge. You could be in the day today and yesterday at the same time if we had a boat to put out a bit from shore. It is also the site of a tsunami in 2011 that destroyed 20% of the population and houses.

Richard is heading back to California tomorrow and I will be spending two days in New Zealand driving from Auckland to Rotorua and then back to Auckland along the western coastline.

Vanuatu and Mt Yasur Volcano

Here are some images from our time in the islands of Vanuatu. You can see images of the bay and the Port Vila market as well as Mt Yasur volcano on Tanna island. It was exploding for us!

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Spent the day in Aitutaki, Cook Islands yesterday. Its about a 40 minute flight from Rarotonga. They filmed several episodes of Survivor here as well as Shipwrecked. Here are a couple images I shot. Heading to Auckland, NZ for an overnight and then on to New Caledonia next.

Rarotonga, The Cook Islands

We landed in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands yesterday and went out exploring.

Here is Richard Taylor, the producer of the videos for this trip to the South Pacific. We are walking in the Muri Lagoon here.

To learn more about what we are doing here click on this overview page.

And we stumbled upon this group of people holding hands in a circle at the Avana Harbor, one of the only deep water passages into Rarotonga's lagoon. The great ocean going vakas (canoes) set off from here in the 14th century to settle New Zealand, the so called Great Migration.

We stopped to talk to the leader of this group and made a small on camera interview which I will publish later on. This group is called Hokulea, the Great Polynesia Voyaging Society, and they are canoeing around the world to bring awareness to the problems of the oceans today. They just started their journey two months ago and will be canoeing for the next 2 years. They had come here all the way from Hawaii. Some passages are a couple days, some a couple weeks long. You can follow their progress on their website.

I flew the drone once and got some beautiful underwater shots of the lagoon with the GoPro. But this morning I flew it again but due to a malfunctioning battery and some stray dogs, it landed in the lagoon and conked out along with the GoPro unprotected from waterproof case! So unless by some miracle the electronics dry out in a few days, my drone and GoPro are dead!

I will be posting every couple days so check back.

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