Days 224-225 Friday-Saturday November 30-December 1, 2007
Waitomo, Rotorua & Taupo, New Zealand
We woke up on Friday morning in no hurry to get out of Waitomo. The only thing on the agenda for the day was a three hour drive east to Rotorua. After checking out of our cabin we spent about twenty minutes in a small coffee shop next door. Our tour from the previous day provided us each with a free drink coupon so we cashed in and relaxed for a few minutes.
The other benefit coming from our tour was free admission to the Waitomo Caves Museum located in the visitor’s center. After leaving the cafe we headed across the street to the museum. Once inside, we spent around thirty minutes looking at displays with information on the many caves in the Waitomo regions. They also had many skeletons on display including a couple of complete Moa birds. My favorite part of the museum was a circlevision movie about the region and its many hidden caves.
After leaving the museum we got in the car and pointed it towards Rotorua. There is no mistaking when you have arrived in Rotorua as the rotten egg smell is so prominent. I read somewhere that this is the only town where you could pass gas and no one would know it. I agree with that. The fortunate thing is that after an hour or so our noses adjusted to the smell. By the time we reached town it was time to figure out dinner and check into our cabin for the night.
Unfortunately we weren’t to impressed with the holiday park and decided to only stay one night. This meant that we were going to cram in all of our activities on Saturday before driving a couple of hours south to Taupo that night. Getting started on Saturday morning we went over to a complex wooden maze. I have always wanted to wander around such a maze so this was a no brainer.
When we arrived it was evident that the maze needed a little TLC. With that said, it was very well done, incorporating a series of bridges. The way it works is that each group needs to find each of the four colored corners before finding the exit. We had a lot of fun and the only problem we faced the entire time was the sheer amount of insects. Spider webs and gnats were everywhere, but we adjusted and finished the maze in around 45 minutes.
From the maze we headed over to check out the Zorbs. This is one of those things that I saw on television some time ago and thought would be cool to do. It is basically a big hamster ball that you are strapped into while you roll down a hill. While it did look very neat, the cost of $60 NZD for one ride was too steep for me so we passed and decided instead to go down the street to the Rotorua Gondola ride.
The Rotorua Gondola is a cable car that brings passengers high above Rotorua for panoramic views. This seemed like fun for the whole family so we went. Our package included six rides on the luge ( 2 each). Once at the top we headed over and put on our helmets to luge down the mountain. Our first runs were uneventful and before long we were on the ski lift back to the top.
On the second run we decided to stay close as a family. Unfortunately, on one turn Shawn Reece had two much speed and flew right off the track. After taking a couple of pictures and lifting his sled back onto the track we finished once again without incident. Once back at the top we took some pictures of the breathtaking scenery around Rotorua and boarded the gondola for the ride back to earth.
A visit to Rotorua wouldn’t be complete without seeing the thermal areas, so we headed to a local park to see some hot spots. In the park we saw a variety of hot springs, boiling mud and stinky holes in the ground that spewed out steam. After a thirty minute walk we soaked our feet in a thermal pool and Shawn Reece played for a while in the playground. By the we were done, it was time to leave Rotorua.
While our time in Rotorua was short, it was enough. Rotorua is perhaps the main tourist town on the North Island and not my favorite place atmosphere wise. We did enjoy it however and left around 3pm heading towards Taupo. I had been mulling over a decision of whether or not to bungee jump in Taupo. We also had to decided whether or not to do a 16km crossing of the Tongariro National Park on foot. At this point everything was up in the air. The one thing I was certain of was that the thought of bungee jumping was going to keep me up most of the night.
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The Coomer Family