It’s been a few days since I last posted anything and that is mainly due to the lack of notable events in Tauranga and the abundance of things to do in Rotorua.
I think we have accepted that we may have made a mistake by stopping off in Tauranga and Hamilton. They are really not very important towns and we have missed out on seeing some much more exciting places because of it. I think being in New Zealand has just increased the list of things I would like to see here. I believe another trip out here would be great with what we have learnt. I think a car and no prior plans on where to stay would have made for a much more exciting trip but when you haven’t done a trip like this, you think everything has to be planned down to the finest detail.
Anyway! On to Rotorua! We have been very busy here as there is a real bustling tourist industry here and travellers without transport are catered for excellently. We spent our first day exploring before spending the afternoon in the Polynesian Spa getting massages and drinking wine… ridiculously decadent I know but the spa uses geothermally heated water so we convinced ourselves it was a cultural experience. After such a day, our original cheap idea of having beans on toast for dinner seemed a little of an anti climax so we followed Dave’s (Jordan’s step dad for you who don’t know) advice on visiting a restaurant called Freos. The food was amazing and it nicely concluded one of the least backpacker days we have had on our very unbackpacker backpacker holiday.
The next days adventures allowed for a relaxed morning before being shuttled off to a place called Paradise Valley Springs – a trout farm that just happens to have a pride of lions. We managed to get round the farm, which consisted of some trout, pigs, sheep, goats, deers, an evil emu and the most hassling ducks we have ever met. One made the most depressing noise ever heard because we neglected to bring bread. The parks main attraction (other than the trout) is the pride of nine lions. At 2:30 every day they make a spectacle of feeding the lions chunks of horse meat. This was fun to watch if a little unnerving when two females fought quite ferociously over the meat which ended with one bleeding from the nose. The lions are surrounded by a simple fence with an electric fence behind that which gives us onlookers an incredibly close look at the animals – when I upload the photos you’ll see what I mean.
In the evening we decided to go along to one of the Maori cultural performances. This consists of a walk around the Maori land and a show of traditional songs and dances. They also provided a dinner off various foods cooked under the ground and the last part of the night was a walk focused on seeing glow worms. The show was interesting but it felt weird when the chief started talking and cracked a few jokes – it jarred a little against the otherwise serious atmosphere.
This morning we ventured out to Hell’s Gate which is a thermal reserve outside of Rotorua. We saw bubbling mud and sulphur lakes although there were no geysers.
Now we are just waiting around for our bus to Taupo where we hope to do a few more interesting things. Apparently you can do a tandem skydive for 150NZ$ (approx 60 pounds) which could be fun although it may be a little too brown trousers for me…