Getting to Rotorua
It took two hours and a half to get from "Hooterville Down Under" to Rotorua, a majority Maori (native New Zealander) town alongside a lake. On the subject of lunch, we were on our own steam (no pun intended). Of course y'all know, Brian Baker found a McDonald's. Because I had greater confidence that I would be able to find a decent meal in Rotorua, I didn't join him. However, I found a small Mom and Pop style restaurand run by an old Maori lady- just the perfect type of place to get to know the people, however briefly, a little better. At 1.00, I was the only customer, waited on hand and foot as if I were a visiting dignitary. I took fried eggs, bacon, and coffee to drink. In my humble opinion, this little restaurant is better than the Cracker Barrel, because of the food and service, I sincerely hope the old lady is still there and that it's still open. After taking lunch, I bought 21 postcards to write that night and mail before leaving with the Lamberts. After that, we visited the Maori Heritage Museum. In this museum, there were many exhibits on clothing and weaponry. Outside, you could see the architecture and the omnipresence of geysers and geothermal baths. Geysers present a unique problem for golfers because when the ball lands in the hole, a geyser could put it out.
Mt & Lake Tarawera
For those not so keen on climbing, or ran out of time to do the volcanic tour (or for whatever reason it may be) ... drive down Tarawera Road (off SH5 - Te Ngae Rd) to this scenic lookout for a great view.
Mt Tarawera errupted in 1886.
Zorbing is yet another bizarre extreme sport creation from New Zealand. Basically, the Zorb is a giant rubber balloon with another smaller rubber balloon suspended in the center. The rider climbs through a small opening into the middle balloon. The Zorb is then rolled down a hill with the rider inside, and a cushion of air between the outer and inner balloons. The rider (who they refer to as a "Zorbonaut") can either be strapped into a harness inside the Zorb, called Harness Zorbing, or unharnessed with a bucket of water thrown inside, called Hydro-Zorbing. In Harness Zorbing the rider will tumble around and around as the Zorb rolls down the hill, and in Hydro-Zorbing you slide along with the water on the bottom as the Zorb revolves around you.
My wife and I both did two Hydro-Zorb runs at their facility in Ngongotaha, just outside Rotorua. Once alone and once together. We both had a total blast, and agreed that doing the Zorb together was more fun than apart. It was definitely pricey (I believe each run was around NZ$30 or so), but it's definitely worth experiencing at least once. Great fun!
Te Puia :previously Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Resv
There is so much to see here. Primarily a thermal park, you can of course see
geysers and boiling mud pools
As well as that there is a
Maori Village, a carving school, and a Kiwi bird house.
Seeing the Kiwi is a very special experience, and not freely available around the country so I recommend you take the time to walk thru while here. It is no extra cost. You need to stay inside the dark house for few minutes to allow your eyes to adjust and letting you view the kiwis. Being nocturnal birds, even most New Zealand people never see one in the wild, in their lifetime.
There is a Maori Concert every day at 12.15pm - 1.00pm.
Remember this place is open 365 days a year! Hours: Summer : 8:00am - 6:00pm
Winter : 8:15am - 5:15pm
The guided walk around the park takes around 1 1/4 hrs, and the last leaves at 5pm in the summer. You can walk unguided and just see some of the park if you are short on time.
If you have a mobility problem, there is an electric "train" to ride in, ask when you buy your ticket.
Feeding the Sheep
This is me with Ken feeding the sheep. The sheep were quite excited to see us and practically ran and surrounded me, greedily eating the pellets I had in my hand.
Ken has a sheep dog named Ben. Haha....but Ben turned out to be a quiet, obedient and not friendly dog.
Ken was very friendly and nice. In fact, we were the only ones at the farm tour on that day and therefore got privileged personalised service.
He also happens to be over 80 years old and is very fit. I am sure far fitter than me. And has been a farmer all his life.