We spent two nights in the bush at Lake Waikaremoana. We took the kids for a walk on the 'Great Walk' hiking track one day and told them if they were quiet they might see a deer - deathly silence for about three minutes! Hubby did go for a couple of deer stalks and got close to one but spooked it, so no venison for us.
We knew the weather wasn't going to last, so we decided to head back to the camping ground and spend a night in the cabins again, and then head to Rotorua. The kids were having so much fun that they really wanted to stay another night in the tent - but we promised them another camping trip next year instead. The trip back in the boat was even smoother than trip out.
So we drove leisurely to Rotorua and the first camping ground we stopped at had nice wee cabins and their own thermally heated hot pools. Bliss!
Besides soaking in the hot pools twice a day, we did lots of touristy things - and there are plenty to choose from, Rotorua seems to deserve it's nickname 'Roto-vegas'. We did the Gondola and Luge, we visited the Geyser Park, Te Puia, and we saw the lions being fed at Rainbow Springs.
And we had the biggest and yummiest iced chocolates ever! The Hamilton cousins came and joined us at the camping ground for a night so that made it extra fun for our kids. Chaotic, but fun.
Then, after three nights, it was time to head home. We left Rotorua with the intention of staying one night somewhere along the way, but the kids were handling the driving and our timing was working out so we just kept going and made it from Rotorua to home all in one trip (we even managed to stop at Grandmother's Garden - I had racked up a few brownie points, but that's another story).
Home, sweet home.