Dave's Day of Adventure

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Besides the hot springs, Rotorua is known for their adventure sports (where in NZ are there not adventure sports?). So we officially declared today "Dave's Adventure Day."  Our first stop of the day was to Skyline Rotorua.  We arrived at Skyline right when it opened at 9am.  Once again the weather was overcast and you could just see the top of the hill.  We pondered skipping this activity, but decided to go ahead anyway.  We are the first customers of the day, so we are lucky enough to get a private gondola ride (our third of the trip) to the top.  Amy decided to grab a coffee (which was free with a coupon we got from our campground) as we got a great view of Rotorua below us.  I was a little antsy to get on with the adventures though, so I start to head over to the luge track.  Of course I was riding solo on this one after Amy’s big accident that occurred at the beginning of our trip on the Great Wall of China.  This luge course made China’s seem like a kiddie ride.  There are three courses in Rotorua.  The beginner course is considered “scenic” (read boring) because it is long and slow.  The intermediate is shorter, but steeper as well.  Then there is the advanced course which is the shortest and described as “thrilling.”  I begged, bartered, and pleaded to ride the advanced course, but unfortunately it was closed for repairs, so I had to go with the intermediate track.  Being the first one on the course meant there was no one in front of me, so I was able to zip down the course as fast as I wanted.  These luges also had directional controls (unlike the one in China where you could only accelerate or brake).  All in all it was a good time, a nice and easy way to start the day.  Once I finished the track, I took a chairlift back to the top where I met Amy to take the gondola back to the bottom of the hill.    

Our next stop on the tour was to Zorb Rotorua.  Zorb is another one of those unusual adventure sports that only a kiwi could think up.  You jump in a gigantic plastic ball and then are pushed down a hill.  There two ways to zorb, dry and wet.  In the dry version (zorbit) you are tied in so you don’t break your neck.  The wet version (zydro) contains, you guessed it, water, but you are not tied in, so you slide along with the water.  There are three courses to choose from as well at Zorb Rotorua: straight, zig zag, or the drop.  Amy decided that she was up to be pushed down a hill, so we both decide on the zydro.  Up to three people can go at the same time as long as you pick the straight course.  I wanted to go down the zig zag course, so we each went separately.  After filling out the form, we changed into our outfits, which consisted of a shirt, bathing suit, and socks (not sure why we had to wear socks while in a wet zorb), and then got in the back of a songthaew to go up the hill (you would think they could install a chairlift, escalator, or just make you walk). 

As is protocol in these type of activities, I ask Amy if she wants to go first or second (she always picks second).  I am instructed to dive head first into the ball via the small hole that was already filled with water.  The employee made a small joke about how the water will be cold, but to my delight it was warm as it was a chilly morning.  He topped me off with a little more water and opened the gate where I had to hamster dance the ball to the start of the hill where gravity would then take over.  The ride was actually quite fun, somewhat of a mix between a water slide and a rollercoaster.  There were points when I thought my momentum would roll over to the hill where I would bounce off a tree before slamming into the office, but there were fences to stop me first.  I was careful to keep positioned as to not bounce around.  The ride lasted about half a minute.  At the bottom, the zorb was unzipped and a cameraman came over to take pictures of me in the ball.  I was then birthed to the world, dripping wet in slimy water (not to be confused with Adam’s placenta cream) where more pictures were taken.  I was ushered to the side with all the spectators where I could watch Amy come down next.  Amy did not enjoy the ride as much as I did as she got flipped over a few times, but I was proud of her for giving it a whirl.  Once inside, we got to look at our pictures (which of course we had to buy), and were even able to upload one to facebook for free (what has this world come to).    

Now that adventure activity two is finished, we head across the street to Agroventures.  Agroventures is a small amusement park with 5 adventure sports: schweeb (you are in a plastic tube where you can peddle around a track), freefall xtreme (indoor skydiving), agrojet (high powered jet boat that goes around a manmade lake), swoop, and bungy.  You can pay for the rides a la carte, or you can buy packages of different combinations.  Most combinations came with the schweeb, which is understandable because I don’t know why someone would want to actually do that, but I decided to skip it.  I had little interest in someone driving me around in a fast boat, so the agrojet was out also.  So I start to go for the bungy and swoop combo when the lady behind the desk tells me they are virtually the same thing.  The bungy is a jump off of a 43 meter high crane.  In the swoop, you are slipped into what looks like a sleeping bag, then lifted up by a rope to the top of the crane (once again 43 meters high).  Then you pull the rip cord where you free fall the same way the bungy does, but instead of bouncing, the rope swings you forward as if you are superman.  She tells me the swoop is more fun, so I decide to go with that and the freefall xtreme since the combo was only slightly more (and a third of the price of the bungy jump in Queenstown).  Amy decides she has had enough adventure for today and is now the official photographer.

I decided to get the indoor skydiving out of the way first, so I walk over to the building where I am outfitted in a jumpsuit and given instructions on how to lie down (I told them I don’t need instructions, I am pretty good at lying down).  I am then taken outside and climb onto the mesh ropes where the twin turbo, Detroit diesel V12 engine was turned on.  There are three employees flanked around me to make sure I don’t fly out of the contraption and do a real free fall.  The second I get too high, one of the workers pushes me back down.  They also spin me around and flip me over to make the ride a little more fun, but overall I would imagine that actual skydiving is much more fun than this.  Not sure I would pay more than the $20 they were charging. 

I was now ready for the last and scariest adventure of the day, the swoop.  There is no one in line, nor any spectators, so I quickly run over to get it done with.  At this moment I was not nervous at all as Nick threw the sleeping bag over my head and checked three times to make sure I was locked in and ready to go.  I was told that the canvas sack could hold up to a ton and the ropes could withstand three tons of weight.  Once hooked up, I was told to lie down and the ropes started to pull me up to the top of the crane.  About halfway up I started to realize how high I was, but there was nothing I could do now.  I finally got to the top where Amy looked like a small dot sitting on the hill at the other end of the swing.  Nick counts down from 10 when I pull the rip cord.  Next thing I know, I am falling down to the ground at 9.8 m/s2 as I let out a scream (which I later said was for the video that I thought Amy was taking, pretty good excuse, although much to my chagrin there was no video taken).  I briefly thought in my head that I must be crazy for doing this and at that moment I feel the rope swing forward as I glide just past the ground.  I swing back and forth a few times thinking how great it was and how I would never do it again.  High on adrenaline, I go into the office to see all of the pictures taken, but for the first time decide that I did not need to spend $50 on a few pictures (mostly because Amy did a good job with her camera).   

 “Dave’s Day of Adventure” now became “Dave’s Morning of Adventure” as the next step would be to go on a real skydiving trip, which I decided would be overkill (and pricey).  So instead we headed back to the campground to have lunch.  Not sure whether it was being thrown around a plastic ball, being in an uncomfortable position while fake skydiving, or the whiplash from swinging through the air, but regardless I was feeling quite sore in my 5th and 6th lumbar area.  So the obvious next step was to head over to the Polynesian Spa to soak in the hot mineral rock pool.  The Polynesian Spa is rated as one of the top 10 spas in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine for it’s use of natural hot springs.  We decided to get a private pool for 30 minutes because it was cheaper than unlimited time in the public pool.  Amy and I were ushered to a private room where there was a small pool looking out on the lake.  Very relaxing, and thirty minutes was more than enough as the water was quite warm at 38.5 degrees Celsius.  I felt much better afterwards. 

After the spa, we went back to the campground where we had time before we were planned to be picked up for dinner.  Since we had time, we decided to do some research on whether our credit card would cover the damage to Britzy Spears.  It was at this time that we found out that RV’s are not covered, so that put a damper on what was becoming a fantastic day.  Regardless, we wouldn’t let that ruin our trip and would deal with it when we got home.  After a short nap, we got ready as we were being picked up at 5:45 and taken to the Mitai Cultural Performance.  We were hesitant to go to one of these maori cultural shows as it seemed to be very similar to the luau we went to in Hawaii.  But who can pass up an all you can eat feast. 

We were dropped off at the “village” where we were shown to our table of 10.  We were the first to arrive, which gave us time to enjoy local appetizers and a few beverages while listening to live music played by the owner of the cultural performance.  It is a family run organization that was originally created to keep his sons off the streets.  When it first began they had room for 30 people.  It has now grown to a capacity of 300 people.  Once everyone arrived, the MC warmed up the crowd with a few jokes and explained that we were a group of many tribes (or nations) that have come together and need to ask for a warm hospitality from the home tribe.  But first we needed a chief, to which a burly Australian man volunteered.  The group was then ushered for the unveiling of our hangi dinner that has been cooking underground all day.  I was ready to eat right then and there, but the performance was first.  Overall the show was very good.  Perhaps I just had low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did explaining the culture, weapons, musical instruments, and roles of the men and women while they performed different songs and dances.  The haka, a dance that is used to intimidate an opposing tribe during a battle, was definitely my favorite part.  The performers made a few mistakes, but that just made the experience more realistic to me.  After the show we were ushered back to our table where dinner was served buffet style.  The dinner was amazing and I certainly did eat myself silly as I went back up for a second helping. 

We decided to partake in the optional tour after dinner that took us next door to the kiwi experience.  Here we got to learn about a lot of the native wildlife, especially the kiwis, which are endangered.  The kiwi experience goes out and collects baby kiwis (who typically have a 5% change of survival) and raise them until they are old enough to go back in the wild.  We were able to see 4 kiwis up close.  Not only are they super cute, but apparently very intelligent as well.  We also got to see glow worms, a few reptiles, and other birds.  As expected, the gift shop was open late in case we wanted to make any purchases before going home.  We decided to buy a stuffed kiwi where 100% of the profits goes to repopulating the species.  Overall it was a pretty amazing day and we were both quite exhausted by the end of the night. 
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