Last one in is a rotten egg...

Trip Start Mar 07, 2006
Trip End Jun 30, 2006

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

That smell of rotten eggs isn't imagined. It's the sulphur from the thermal hot springs in aptly-named Rotorua. And while I can't say the air smells too pleasant, I am looking forward to having a dip.

Arrived in Rotorua this afternoon after a long day's drive from the Coromandel Penninsula, where I spent last night at a tiny fishing village on the beach called Whitianga. (It's been, um, interesting, trying to pronounce all the names of places around here.) Whitianga was picturesque but the activities were a bit limited by the rainy weather. Still, we did stop off at Hot Water Beach on the way up, and using shovels, we were able to dig and find the hot water just under the surface near some rocks. Then we stopped at the entranceway to a hike to a spot called Cathedral Cove, which took about an hour and a half in stunning scenery.

Today's drive took us back down the peninsula to Waitomo, which is famous for its limestone caves, complete with millions of glow-worms. We took a walk and short boat trip through the caves to see them. In Waitomo, they also have one of the most bizarre sights in the world: angora rabbit shearing. Unfortunately they weren't shearing any rabbits today, but they did have photos and those sheared rabbits are about 1/3 the size of its size before shearing, and looks kind of like a drowned rat.

Some things I've had to get used to since arriving in New Zealand:

*Driving on the left - well, I'm not driving, but having to remember to look right is a bit of a challenge at times.

*The national obsession with rugby - I didn't find out about the Theodore trade until 2 days after the fact, since nobody here knows anything about hockey. Mention the All Blacks (the NZ national rugby team), though, and get an instant reaction.

*Kiwi craziness - they seem to spend an awful lot of time trying to invent new ways to get an adrenalin rush. Skydiving, canyon swinging, sledging, bungee jumping and something called Zorbing. If there's a building, a mountain or a cliff, they'll find a way to jump off it. Nothing seems to faze them and they are always looking to add just that little extra to the experience. They must find the rest of the world, where people generally take elevators, awfully boring.

*The prices - all the aforementioned activities cost a fortune... but so does everything else that I might want to do in daily life. Blowing my budget is starting to seem inevitable. Ah well, I'll eat peanut butter for a few weeks and all be "sweet as".
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