01 August 2011

Rotorua – New Zealand Feb 2011

Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s premier tourist destinations is known for its thermal activities. We knew it the moment we entered. The distinct smell of rotten eggs due to the sulphur was omnipresent.
We started the day with some sightseeing and adventure. Our itinerary said 'Gandola Ride' and even though the itinerary said ride up to Mount Ngongataha, I had something like a Venetian Gandola in mind...with a serenading handsome man!
However, the Skyline Skyrides Gandola here was just a cable car! Enjoyed some spectacular views from up there of Rotorua and Rotorua Lake.
The LUGE track!
There were some activities available and I had decided on a Luge Ride as soon as I read about it. The Luge is like a go-kart, but the interesting thing was the track which we had had glimpses of when we were coming up on the cable car. Winding hairpin turns inside what looked like a dense forest and quite steep too. Quite obviously for adventurous New Zealand, this is the world’s FIRST concrete luge track. Hema too was keen...rest all seemed in 2 minds. So the 2 of us bought the tickets and geared up with our helmets. Slowly I noticed, one by one, the others too joined. I guess it looked too tempting! Initially I was a bit apprehensive and went quite slowly. Moreover, the huge redwood trees around us were beautifully distracting. But by the end of it I was quite comfortable and managed to speed up a bit.

After the Luge ride, a UFO flying saucer awaited us - a 4D simulator known as the Voyager. There were 2 shows - 'Scenic Adventures of the South' and 'Xenopod'. The 1st was quite exciting and enjoyable and made me decide instantaneously that we should try the Shot-Over Jet in Queenstown (more on that in a later post). The 2nd was like most 3 movies and as usual gave me a headache!

Maori poi
From Skyline we went to visit Kiwi Orchards called Kiwi 360 at Te Puke. When we reached, there was a Maori traditional dance called Maori Haka going on and we decided to watch that. Men and women in traditional costume consisting of a Flax Piupiu Skirt thumping their feet and emanating war calls were quite entertaining.
Nalini and I also decided to join them on stage for a wee bit and try some Poi - a performance art in which balls are suspended from a length of flexible material, usually a plaited cord and are held in the hand and swung in circular patterns.

Rolling on the grass
After the show we went for a very, very touristy KiwiKart Tours. And like most very, very touristy things was a bit of a letdown. A ride in a toy train designed like a Kiwi through orchards of Avocados, Oranges and of course Kiwis. Unfortunately the Kiwis were raw and we couldn’t taste any fresh fruit. But Nalini had alternative plans so that we would always remember this part of the trip with giggles. The lush green carpet grass on small hillocks was too tempting for her and she decided it would be fun to roll down on the grass. Soon the rest of us also joined her and there we were having the fun of our life. As if this was not enough, she decided so what if no Kiwis, let’s try some oranges. It is true, stolen fruit is the YUMMIEST! Truly, we were KIDS that day.

The Blue Lake Walk

That was the end of the official itinerary for the day, but the ever adjusting Barry was more than willing to take us around for some more time. I had read of some nice walking tracks near Rotorua and we decided to go to Blue Lake or Lake Tikitapu where one can enjoy one of the most beautiful walks in Rotorua by walking 5km around the lake. It was really a very scenic walk. Dipti was a bit tired halfway through the walk and suddenly she turned to Soldier Mode – walking with a purpose and no distracted talking, posing for snaps! She just wanted the walk to end.
At the end of the walk, Indu and I decided to walk inside the lake – it was like a spa for the tired feet.

Kuirau park

From there Barry took us to the Kuirua Park, an informal public park with a lot of geothermal activity. What a steaming, hissing and bubbling walk that turned out to be.
It was now time to retire and what better way to end the day than with ice cream. Barry suggested the Hokey Pokey ice cream, which is the local flavor - plain vanilla ice cream with small, solid lumps of toffee, which some of us tried. Quite nice but I preferred my berry flavor!

1 comment:

Hema said...

You are a great chronicler! I think you should consider an alternate occupation .. Keep up the great writing . It does bring back great memories.