Adventures in Rotorua – Part 1

I’ve left this post a bit late (it’s been a busy week as I prepare to move again over the weekend), so I’ve split it into two, in the hopes that I can get this one out the door in one sitting :D.

This past weekend, I was really lucky to be able to spend it in Rotorua, which is north of Wellington (it’s about halfway down the north island). It’s a region, technically, but the main town is also called Rotorua. I flew out from Wellington at an absurd time on Saturday morning (although I also got an impromptu tour of the Wellington neighborhoods of Kilbirnie and Hataitai on the way to the Airport, so that was interesting). One of the funny things about Wellington airport’s domestic departures area is that there’s no security checkpoint– it was really strange to just walk to my gate without stopping for security! We were flying in a propeller plane (a Bombardier! Canada represent), so we boarded off the tarmac. This particular plane had wings above the windows, rather than at the same level, so my view was pretty obstructed by the engines… but that was okay, since I was falling asleep anyway. It was a pretty short flight, gate-to-gate– 70 minutes.

When you get into Rotorua, the first thing you notice is the smell. We could smell it, even in the plane. It’s a hotbed (pun intended) for geothermal activity, so there are hot springs everywhere and steam rising from pretty much every nook and cranny on the main streets. The result is cool, but it makes the air smell like rotten eggs, or sulphur. For the Canadians– if you’ve ever been to the hot springs in Banff, it smells the same.

I first checked in at my motel, dropped off my bag, and went out immediately to the iSite (information centre). I hadn’t booked any trips for the next two days, so I needed to get that done ASAP, and I figured the iSite people would be the best informed. They were. One guy had everything booked within 20 minutes, complete with tips about restaurants. Once that was done, and I was booked solid until Monday afternoon, I headed out to grab something to eat. The only thing I had booked in advance (other than the motel and plane, of course) were my Saturday afternoon plans– ziplining and a nature tour through some very old forest, then a soak at the hot pools of the Polynesian Spa.

Ziplining was amazing!! I had the foresight this time to book a GoPro as well, so I do have footage of this, but I need to actually make it into a video first. We’ll see when I get the time to do that… The tour was combined with lots of information about the forest we were in, as well as the conservation efforts of the ziplining company. They, like seemingly all of New Zealand, have a plan to restore the forest to its pre-human stages. The awesome thing about the ziplining this time around was that there was lots of it– I think 7 ziplines in total? There was even a super long one which was 220m long. The only semi-scary part about the ziplining at this place was when we were actually getting ready to fly off a platform, because you have to descend these steps into nowhere, basically. But if you fall, you’d just end up starting the zipline a bit early, is all. On the last zipline, they said we could go down backwards and/or upside down if we wanted, so of course I had to do this, and went upside down. I haven’t seen what the video looks like yet, but it was quite an experience!

Here’s a picture of me hanging off a bridge:

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Getting back into town, I then took full advantage of the Polynesian Spa, which has 7 natural geothermal pools for adults. It was a great end to the day– especially after the early morning. I nearly fell asleep in one of the pools though (bad). The temperatures of the pools ranged from +38 degrees Celsius to +42 degrees. One of the pools overlooked the lake, and it was really pretty. Definitely worth it. The worst part was always getting out of the pool, because it IS winter here, and the temperature outside was a bit crisp… but you could then go straight back into a hot pool. They say those waters are great for aches and pains, and I had been sore all day from a workout earlier in the week– after the Spa, I wasn’t sore at all. Excellent!

That night, I went exploring for supper, and ended up on Eat Streat. No, that’s not a typo– it’s actually spelled “Streat”. The Croucher Brewery is located there (I actually didn’t realize this until I ended up in their restaurant), and there’s a restaurant attached with a decent menu. So I had supper there, and just in time too, because I was at the beginning of the dinner rush. Afterward, I had a sweet craving, and went three doors up to a place I believe is called the Craft Beer Kitchen. Judging by the name, I thought it would have a nice indie feel to it, with a decent dessert menu. I was right about the dessert menu, but not much else– it was classy and not at all indie. As well, their serving staff were run off their feet, and service was suffering. I ended up never getting the drink I ordered, but the dessert was good, so I guess it gets half points?

The motel I was staying at had its own hot pools, so when I got back, I took my book and tried one of those as well. It was actually really nice to sit outside in the pool with my book and just relax for a while. Unfortunately though, I didn’t notice the weather changing– so when I went to get out of the pool, it was really cold! Happily my room was nice and warm (with geothermally heated floors), so it was a quick recovery. I found myself wishing that Wellington had geothermally heated buildings, although I don’t think the residents would put up with the smell for long…

More to follow!

T

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