Rotorua (via Hamilton)

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, July 14, 2008

The van switch in Hamilton takes the best part of a day and, rather than go back to the caves (thinking that they will be pretty flooded by now)  area we decide to move on to Rotorua.

We arrive late in the day and look around a couple of commercial campsites but decide they are not worth the money and decide to head off to the boat landing on a small spit of land right beside the lake. A beautiful setting, lots of birds and the sunset is amazing.

We settle in for the night in this isolated position and think we have found a really peaceful spot for the night. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth! As soon as it gets dark the "visitors" begin to arrive. Cars drive up to the car park , have a look around and drive off again. This happens dozens of time. The visitors are mostly young guys in souped up cars. After a while a 4WD arrives with two guys who avoid driving on the road instead driving around the trees keeping to the grass and let out their two ferocious looking pit bulls and simply hang around for an hour generally behaving suspiciously. Finally it dawns on us that these are pushers and that this is the drug dealing supermarket of Rotorua and the reason that they are driving on the road is to avoid the CCTV.
Remembering when we picked up the van that the manager had told us that the van had previously been rented to the police for surveillance, we feel it is best to move off and park somewhere else!

The next few days are spent in and around Rotorua checking out the town and some of the great walks and attractions in the area. The downside of the thermal activity in the area is the smell. Walking around parts of the town is like walking around in a giant fart!

Sights worth seeing include Whakarewara forest, home to some very large redwood trees and the Thermal Wonderland, an amazing array of thermal pools all are the most amazing colours due to the different minerals present in the water. Further attractions nearby include the Geyser which erupts at 10.15 daily. The timing is not natural as one of the rangers prompts the eruption by tossing in a bar of soap, which breaks the surface tension and sets off the eruption. Apparently this was how the geyser was discovered when some prisoners, working in the area, washed their clothes in the hot water which prompted the geyser to erupt (what a shock that must have been!).

Before heading out of Rotorua we spend the morning at Skyline Skyrides. We by a block ticket which covers the cable car ride up to the top, plus two trips on the "luge" and a go on the "Sky Swing" .

The luge is basically a very small plastic sledge on wheels. We get two trips and can choose from three slalom type courses. to choose from all of which wind their way down the hill through the trees. A scenic course plus intermediate and advanced courses. We try the scenic course first which itself is pretty fast. The sense of speed is enhanced by the fact that your bum is about 2 inches from the ground! After finishing the luge we get the ski lift back to the top and try out the Sky Swing. I hadn't seen the swing in operation and so was quite concerned as we were strapped in and then hoisted up on the swing until we were horizontal in the swing looking straight down at the ground. Not great for someone who doesn't like heights! We had to pull a rope which released the swing and we hurtle towards the ground , apparently reaching 200kph in 2 seconds! Boy was I glad when the swing stopped!

We finished off our visit with a final trip on the Advanced luge course. This one was really fast! At time when going over bumps we actually left the ground. Absolutely fantastic! Definitely a must do in Rotorua.
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