And here I am back safe and sound in Australia from my first ever trip to our neighbours across the ditch, New Zealand. Ironic that it has taken me so long to get there when I’ve been as far away as Central Asia, Iceland and Cameroon but there you go. So time for a bit of a summary post about the week in New Zealand. In two parts so I don’t overload readers!
Flying from Sydney to Rotorua via Auckland. This took most of the day, I took Air New Zealand which was a pretty good choice. Cheap fares but good service. Leaving Sydney was an utter nightmare taking over an hour to get through passport control and x-rays. More like an hour and half. Sydney International is a nightmare.
Than at Auckland we had to transfer as you do these days international to domestic, so get your bag and take a bus with 90 minutes between flights. Luckily it was easy enough and the second flight was on a Beech 1900, around 19 seats. I can honestly say I was damned nervous, but after take off everything was fine and I even fell asleep.
On the ground a shuttle to our hostel – Funky Green Voyager Backpackers, which was a great little place. Dinner and sleep.
Pretty much straight into the touring. I visited the Skyline where you take a short gondola ride up a hill. To get down I took a ‘luge’ ride, not quite like it is in the snow. Wasn’t as much fun as I was hoping. Then back up the hill in a chairlift and returned to the very bottom via gondola. Nice views across the range. Rotorua in its entirety is located in the middle of a huge volcano. True.
I learnt this fact on a tour I took in the afternoon across three lakes in an amphibious vehicle that went on road and turned into a boat to go into the lakes. The company is ‘Duck Tours’, and it’s very interesting. Not just the vehicle, the guide was full of facts about the region.
Came back and in the evening went to the Mitai Maori Show. We had a great host who greeted people in 20 different languages, walked through a ferny gully which was really beautiful and saw the tribe arrive by boat. There was a show with music and of course the Haka. Then a right old feast! Boy, it hit the spot!
The day started with a journey to the Waioptapu Thermal Park. There’s a geyser there, hot water shoots out of the ground to around 10 metres plus high at a guess. In Iceland I saw a couple the spout water regularly every few minutes, but here it was a once a day thing. So there was a big audience sat down around the thing waiting for it to blow. They manage the timing of it in a special way. But I’ll do a post on the Waiotapu experience soon so I’ll leave it until then to explain it all.
The thermal park itself is a magical place with lakes geothermally heated creating so many different colours, and heat turns to steam in some places too. It’s a bit of a walk around it, but very rewarding. There are bubbling mud pools too and other such delights.
After that we went to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua to take in some hot water. It’s reputed to be one of the ten best spas in the world, and it’s a great setting even if the tour groups are somewhat tiresome. The silica in the water is supposed to get rid of wrinkles too you know. It’s on the edge of Lake Rotorua. Spas vary in temperature. Probably the best spa I’ve been to. Ever.
So that’s the first three days and a good point to leave it for now. Have you been to Rotorua? More on Saturday! May the Journey Never End!