This weekend trip was ALMOST a month ago but I am just getting around to posting it now…better late than never 🙂 I will work on getting the pictures posted on Facebook too.
Countless people raved about Rotorua! We could not have heard more about how great our weekend trip would be. It would be well worth the short drive for all tourists near and around Auckland. With that in mind, we excited made plans to have Rotorua be our first roadtrip. We scheduled to leave on our first long weekend together. We made plans and were eager to depart before my unemployment came into play. Being “between jobs” (thanks brother!) had me second guessing if I should be heading out of town or laying low in the hostel. With some gentle coaxing by Emzie and my eagerness for some laughs, we set out on our first official New Zealand Sumzie Roadtrip.
Friday I packed my bag (which at this point had been getting far more use then I ever would have imagined—very glad I went with my gut and bought the pricier..but more gorgeous and more user friendly backpack!) Our ride up to Rotoru could have been dryer. We both lost track of how many times it rained. The drive took around 3.5hrs and probably rained at least 7 times. We stopped in Cambridge to get out and stretch our legs and grab some much enjoyed coffee. Sadly there was no Tim Horton run for us. Our Starbucks watch was unsuccessful as we found out the locals had never even heard of it. We did drive through Tirau which was a very decorated town of corrugated metal. Their metal creations were seen everywhere.
As soon as you get near Rotorua your nose starts to tell you are heading in the right direction. The home of spurting geysers, steaming hot pools and and exploding mud pools leaves the air filled with its sulphuric aroma. We arrived in Rotorua around 4:30 and checked into our hostel. We were fortunate enough to get an all-girls room. The hostel was fully booked due to on the road swim teams. It was “interesting” to have the hostel be all ages. Kids running around and teenagers playing in the pool was not what I had become accustomed to during my hostel days.
We ate dinner at the restaurant Fat Dog. It came highly recommended to me by someone who had just been a week or so before. She was visiting from Austria and assured me the food was delicious. I will admit the restaurant overwhelmed me at first; as the menu is all written on the walls in chalk. You order and pay at the register and they come and bring you your food. It is a very quirky place with delicious food and I would for sure go back again! Em had her first “hostel experience” when we arrived back to our room to find that the bedroom lights were off with the air thick of burning incense. Our roommates were singing along and swaying with an enthusiastic guitar player. Emzie’s pillow pet might have felt a little claustrophobic as it was nearly being squished to death by the musician! I wish I could have captured the look on her face when she opened the bedroom door!!!!!!!! Needless to say the roommates were all really nice and we had a lovely time getting to know them over the next few days. Even the girl who spread her makeup all over the foot of my bed (when she thought I was sleeping) so she could apply her makeup.
Saturday was a fun filled day full of planned activities. We were praying that the rain would hold off so we could enjoy our luge rides! We rode up a really short gondola ride and then rode down on plastic luges! We were fortunate enough to get the eight-seater gondola all to ourselves as we rode to the top of Mount Ngongotaha (487 metres above sea level). Through the spitting rain we saw Lake Rotorua and the city. The luge ride down was awesome! Emzie bought our Skyline Rotorua tickets on the grabone website (similar to groupon) so we were able to get a good rate on riding 3x down the hill. We did the scenic track that was 2 kilometre ride through Redwood trees. There were a few pit stops where you could get out and take pictures. We both really enjoyed the 1 kilometre advanced luge track that was much steeper and had more turns. The Jelly Belly factory turned out to be super disappointing. Definitely very over hyped and not worth the money to buy anything from it. We both love jelly beans and couldn’t bring ourselves to pay around 50cents a jelly bean.
Afterwards we took a walk around Kuirau Park (a free attraction) to see some hot springs. The park was nearby and gave Emzie the opportunity to see her first hot pool. Let’s just say Em was under amused by them. I had seen some before in Canada but being her first time…she was unimpressed by their lack of entertainment. The volcanic area had an eruption as recent as 2003 which covered most of the park in trees. We got to see the boiling mud and plenty of huffing steam. The cheap thermal thrills were not as exciting as I had wished! Luckily we found a friendly popcorn vendor who was super friendly and had delicious stock. We continued our walk around and randomly stumbled upon a festival. We searched for a caricature sketcher but were not able to locate any. We could have done without the creepy clown! We did see lots of antics and homemade crafts. There was also a zombie apocalypse (was an annual event to raise money and awareness for brain injuries).
Wanting to make the most of our day we headed back to the hostel to look through the wall of brochures and pamphlets. We were starting to feel we had exhausted most of our options in Rotorua. Originally we had planned to go white water rafting, parasailing or skydiving during our visit. Seeing as my budget had become tighter we nixed all the fun-adrenaline filled activities. There was a pub and bar conveniently located literally 5 steps away from our hostel but instead we decided to have an early night and head off towards Taupo in the morning.
Sunday We drove towards Taupo which was a under an hour drive away. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland was only about a 20 It is known as New Zealand’s most colourful and diverse volcanic area. The rain was in full force the whole drive. When we got there we were really worried the rain would ruin our visit. Luckily the sky cleared and we got sun from time to time. We took full advantage of the moments where we did not need our umbrellas and hoods to take quick pictures of ourselves.
The Champagne Pool was an insane experience! “Unique in the world, a fifth of a hectare of bubbling, hissing water, with a beautiful ochre-coloured petrified edge”(Brochure). Em and I could barely see the edge without our eyes trying to shut. It felt like we were being swallowed up by fog. Our glasses steamed up and we couldn’t see ANYTHING!!! It was raining but we were so hot. We never got to see Lady Knox Geyser erupt as we were not there at 10:15am for its daily eruption.
We decided we should check out Huka Falls while we were in town. It was not as spectacular as we were expecting…”Huka Falls! It should be called Huka River or Huka Mini River!” -Emma. Even though the water was a royal blue the falls was very small in comparison to Niagara Falls which we have both seen. (A sign informed us that the ice-blue, snow-white is famous for having about 200,000 litres of water plunge nine metres over the great rock face of Huka Falls, every second. The flow over the falls is son strong it prevents the upstream migration of trout and native fish such as eels which is why there are no eels to be found in Lake Taupo.)
In the afternoon we went to the Polynesian Spa for a hot mineral bath. We wanted to book mud bath back massages but they were completely booked. Instead we relaxed in a secluded private pool filled with alkaline water at a comfortable 38.5 degrees for 30 minutes. (Brochure) Our skin felt so smooth when we were finished.
One of the HIGHLIGHTS of the trip was our movie and dinner in-bed. We watched the Pixar movie The Incredibles and dined on crackers and double creamy brie. We made great decisions. I had never seen the movie and found it very cute and the brie was beyond delicious. Will creamy brie taste plain to me now?
Monday The sun finally came out and it was a gorgeous drive back to Auckland. To Em’s DEELIGHT we stopped off to Zorb. Large, clear, people filled spheres bouncing and rolling 150m straight down a grassy track down the hill (New Zealand Lonely Planet). We had planned to be strapped into the dry Zorb and face each other as we rolled down the hill. To our shock our heights did not fulfill the height requirement and we had to ride WITH NO STRAPS in a zorb filled with water. We were given VERY LITTLE direction on how the two of us would be able to roll down in the same Zorb without seriously injuring each other. The whole way down the hill we were laughing and screaming and shoving each other away. It is a miracle neither of us got a black eye. Someone really needs to bring this to CANADA.
As we drove through Cambridge our helpful Naviman (GPS) mentioned there would be passing a place of worship. It just so happened that there was an annual fair on the church’s property. Besides lots of homemade crafts guess what we found??? MORE popcorn from the same vendor that was in Rotorua. He recognized us and jokingly accused us of stalking him. We didn’t think it would be appropriate to ask him for his summer schedule…but we should have since his sweet and sour popcorn is beyond delicious. Before Em took me back to the hostel I had an interview with a potential family. We met in Browns Bay which is a lot more tropical and scenic than Mt Roskill. We both had our fingers crossed that this family would work out for me.
The long weekend trip was a great opportunity for a lot of photographs and smiles.I am so glad we decided to go! Sorry it took me so long to post this. I am glad it is finally up – I have had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind ever since we returned from our trip. As always, I hope you enjoyed the read and am so glad you are interested in keeping up with my adventures.
– more blogs in the future I promise,