Today we saw some amazing scenery. We definitely got a feel for what New Zealand’s famous landscapes are all about. It has to be the greenest country I have ever been in. We drove 2.5 hours down country roads (that’s all they have here, no 6-lane freeways once you’re clear of Auckland) passing sheep and cattle, beautiful hedged pastoral landscapes, herds of cervena (New Zealand’s farmed venison), and mountain landscapes in the distance all the way down.
We’re doing it with the help of Jason’s new TomTom app on his iPhone, which requires no data service, and uses the GPS in his phone combined with the maps we downloaded from TomTom on New Zealand. We had turn by turn directions all the way, but we did choose to get lost once or twice. The best was the detour we made to chase down a gigantic waterfall we saw flowing in the distance, pouring out of the mountainside miles away. Turns out it was called Wairere Falls, and we’ve marked it among our waypoints to return to when we get time to come down one weekend in the summer. Our focus at the moment is doing things far away from Auckland, since we expect to be based there and feel we can focus on Auckland region activities once we’re back and working in a couple of months.
About 20 minutes outside Rotorua we saw signs for the Zorb on the road, and we figured we had to check it out. I’d seen Zorbing on Amazing Race and we were both curious to see if it was as fun in real life as it looked on TV. For those of you who have not heard of Zorb, it’s a giant inflated beach ball type thing with an internal chamber that you get inside, then roll down a hill. You can do it wet or dry. Wet, you slide around all over the inside as you roll. Dry, you’re strapped in and you tumble down end for end. Wet seemed like a more fun, less pukey ride to me. One ride costs $49, so seeing as how it’s only 1/4 tank of gas away from Auckland, we decided to save our pennies on this one and come back when it warmer out, and perhaps when we have some visitors in town from overseas looking for a good time.
Zorb is right down the road from the Agrodome, a sort of New Zealand farming exhibition / theme park paired with extreme sport adventure park. They do sheep shearing and schweebing (another NZ sport, which combines recumbent bike and monorail, proposed as the public transport of the future), animal petting and bungy jumping. We had some downright interesting fun with the ostriches here. I’ll leave it to you to watch the video and see what I mean.
After the Agrodome, Jason and I drove on into Rotorua, where the sulphur air wasn’t terribly pungent today. We checked into the Funky Green Backpackers, a gorgeous little hostel near the city center, then made our way out to the Polynesian Spa, set right on the edge of Lake Rotorua, a milky acidic cauldron of geothermal activity. We spent out evening hopping from pool to pool in the healing waters at the spa, and tomorrow we hope to make it to Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal park that has a Geyser that blows daily at 10:15. My first geyser…how exciting!