Rotorua, New Zealand (December 8th – 11th, 2017)

December 9th

There were so many activities that I could have done in Rotorua from thermal mud spas to walks through geothermal areas (similar to Yellowstone), to white water rafting, to zorbing (google it), to ziplining, etc. Rotorua is big on adventure sports. I think the geothermal mud bath and spa was one of the cheapest options at $65NZD. Basically everything else was over $100. I have been becoming more and more budget conscious as I’ve been spending a lot of money and feel like if I were to blink too long, my self-imposed mental budget for New Zealand might be blown.

So, because I did the Waitomo Glow Worm cave tour and Hobbiton, I was feeling a bit tight with the wallet. I decided to not do the geothermal mud bath and spa and go for the ziplining (“Canopy Tour”). I’ve been wanting to go ziplining for a long time and finally a good opportunity! I was going to be picked up by Rotorua Canopy Tours at 8:45am; no problem for me since I’m an early riser. We arrived at their “storefront” location to pay the fee, sign the waiver that basically says “Yes, I know and there are risks of danger while flying through and over the tops of trees while connected by harnesses and steel mechanisms to steel cables that are fastened to other trees and into the earth. No I will not sue you for everything you have if I get injured from doing this.” 😀 It’s called personal responsibility. Same same but different from the waiver that I sign when I go skydiving.

Side note: in southeast Asia, people are constantly using the term “same same…”. Sometimes, if comparing something similar, they will say “same same but different.” Or if it is actually the same thing, they will say “same same but same.” I started getting a kick out of it because it is kind of comical if you really think about it.

Moving on…

We got all harnessed up, hopped in the van, and headed to the zipline course that was about a 10-minute drive up into the hills. We went over some safety info once we got onto the first platform, then since all the other people I was with were traveling as a work group, I sort of defaulted to be first. So, I hopped on the zipline and swung across. The first time was slightly scary, but not too bad at all. Then we had to walk across a very flexible swing bridge to another platform, then another zipline, etc., etc. The second zipline was about the same length and height as the first, and the thought struck me that I really hope not all 5 (or 6 as advertised) ziplines are this same same but same stuff: short and low. The third zipline however, was amazingly long; you couldn’t see the other end that was hidden by the tree canopy.

This is a picture looking up at the tall tree firn of New Zealand.

All harnessed up and waiting to hop on the zipline!! This was one of the first pretty short and low lines.

This was one of the long lines I think. Not sure anymore.

With this zipline, they wanted us to sort of fall backwards off the stairs as sort of a trust test of the zipline. I really wanted to face forward on this zipline but also wanted to challenge my trust of the zipline while falling backwards. I thought Ok, all the others seemed to turn around after a few seconds so they could see where they were going and really enjoy the zipline. Did I turn around? Nooooo!!! 😦 I was facing almost perfectly backwards the whole way!!! Trying to turn yourself around on a zipline is practically impossible. So, I could have enjoyed that long one a little more if I had just went forward off the platform, but oh well. Second long one I did leave the platform facing forward and it was amazing!

On the last zipline, the guide told us we could go backwards off of the platform, then throw our heads back and our legs up and go a good portion of the way across up-side-down! Sweet! So of course I had to try that!

NOTE: I have been having major issues uploading videos to my blog lately which is terribly unfortunate as this post should have contained several videos. Either the internet isn’t powerful enough to upload my pretty short videos or WordPress hates me. It’s been super aggravating. If I ever reach another hostel that has spectacular internet, I will try uploading the videos and will let you know when that happens! Sorry for the delay.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty much down time. I went for a walk to the park where there was “geothermal pools,” then around the city a bit. The entrance gate to the Government Gardens was really cool. There was a wedding happening and so I couldn’t walk around the whole area but I walked around most of it. There were some really pretty flowers.

Gate to the Government Gardens in Rotorua, NZ.

Just some pretty flowers.

More pretty flowers.

That little building you see in the background is where the wedding was happening.

December 10th

The night of December 9th to the 10th, there was a short fire alarm at about 12:30am that woke everyone up, got us scrambling for the essentials (in my case it’s phone, wallet, passport, and maybe jacket and shoes depending on weather), and then get out. But as we were going out, a person in a yellow high-vis vest came through and said that it was a false short alarm and that they don’t know what happened and to go back to bed. Well, I couldn’t properly relax or sleep deeply after that. My brain was running scenarios on what could possibly false trigger an alarm and then the thought of carbon monoxide came into my mind. I don’t even know if NZ has CO detectors (I’m sure they do, but there is that what if in my mind). So then I start thinking about the symptoms of CO poisoning and what I will do if I start feeling dizzy, light-headed, nauseous, etc.

Then, at approximately 2:00am or 2:30, outside of the hostel fence and across the street in the park, I heard two guys shouting, yelling, swearing at each other, then there was a thump like one of them had either kicked or punched the other’s car. Then they proceeded to start shouting about the insurance and who was going to pay to repair whatever damage was caused by the thump. The shouting continued for a few minutes and then it either stopped or I fell back asleep. I think it stopped though and then my half-sleeping-conscious brain thought that someone is going to find a body in the park in the morning. My half-conscious brain plays funny tricks. I don’t think anyone did end up finding a body because I never heard a whirlwind of sirens that I imagine would happen if someone did.

Then at approximately 3:30 or 4 (I really don’t know what time exactly), the girl on the bunk-bed beneath me started coughing, and she kept coughing for maybe half an hour. I almost got up and would have brought my pillow and blanket up to the kitchen area where I knew they had long couch-like chairs (not super cushy) that I could have slept on if I had to. But again, she either stopped or I fell deep asleep enough to not hear it anymore.

Then, after that…. it was time to get up! 😀

Once it was light out, I heard more occasional shouting coming from the park and I thought what the heck is going on there now!?!?! I had to find out. So, I walked around and saw a lot of cars and even more people. There was a guy with a loud-speaker who was occasionally yelling, but it wasn’t an angry yelling thankfully. What I found was happening was the Weet-Bix 2017-2018 Series of the Kids TRYathletes Kid’s Tryathlon! This was a legitimate event! I don’t know why I’ve never heard of kids

December 10th

The night of December 9th to the 10th, there was a short fire alarm at about 12:30am that woke everyone up, got us scrambling for the essentials (in my case it’s phone, wallet, passport, and maybe jacket and shoes depending on weather), and then get out. But as we were going out, a person in a yellow high-vis vest came through and said that it was a false short alarm and that they don’tknow what happened and to go back to bed. Well, I couldn’t properly relax or sleep deeply after that. My brain was running scenarios on what could possibly false trigger an alarm and then the thought of carbon monoxide came into my mind. I don’t even know if NZ has CO detectors (I’m sure they do, but there is that what if in my mind). So then I start thinking about the symptoms of CO poisoning and what I will do if I start feeling dizzy, light-headed, nauseous, etc.

Then, at approximately 2:00am or 2:30, outside of the hostel fence and across the street in the park, I heard two guys shouting, yelling, swearing at each other, then there was a thump like one of them had either kicked or punched the other’s car. Then they proceeded to start shouting about the insurance and who was going to pay to repair whatever damage was caused by the thump. The shouting continued for a few minutes and then it either stopped or I fell back asleep. I think it stopped though and then my half-sleeping-conscious brain thought that someone is going to find a body in the park in the morning. My half-conscious brain plays funny tricks. I don’t think anyone did end up finding a body because I never heard a whirlwind of sirens that I imagine would happen if someone did.

Then at approximately 3:30 or 4 (I really don’t know what time exactly), the girl on the bunk-bed beneath me started coughing, and she kept coughing for maybe half an hour. I almost got up and would have brought my pillow and blanket upto the kitchen area where Iknew they had long couch-like chairs (not super cushy) that I could have slept on if I had to. But again, she either stopped or I fell deep asleep enough to not hear it anymore.

Then, after that…. it was time to get up! 😀

Once it was light out, I heard more occassional shouting coming from the park and I thought what the heck is going onthere now!?!?! I had to find out. So, I walked around and saw a lot of cars and even more people. There was a guy with a loud speaker who was occaissionally yelling, but it wasn’t an angry yelling thankfully.

What I found was happening was the Weet-Bix 2017-2018 Series of the Kids TRYathletes Kid’s Tryathlon! This was a legitimate event! I don’t know why I’ve never heard of kids triathlons in the states. I googled it after I I left this event and there are kids triathlons in the US but maybe they aren’t promoted or publicized as much… Who knows? Have any of my readers heard of, seen, or had their kids participate in a triathlon in the US?

Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon!!

The transition area.

I talked to one of the many many moms that were here with kids. This little guy was doing the tryathlon with his “best mate”.  It was his first time doing it.

This is a picture looking at the main gathering area in front of an elevated platform where the loudspeaker was.

Swimming was done at the public pool.

Again with the videos – I took a few videos of the tryathlon that I wanted to add but I’m trying to avoid a headache for myself today.

After I watched each of the triathlon events for a little while, I walked back towards the main town center area and decided to eat out since I didn’t have any vegetables to go with my rice. In Rotorua, they have this little area developed called “Eat Street”. It’s covered and has several restaurants on both sides of the street which is about the length of one city block. It doesn’t show up on Google Streetview so I think it’s a pretty new development.

Eat Street. What’s really cool is that the structural element with the “Eat Street” on it is most likely load-bearing but also contains the stormwater drainage for the clear roof over Eat Street.

An informational plaque about the development and other aspects of Eat Street.

The pizza I got on Eat Street….Soooo yummmy!!!

After lunch, I walked to the i-Site information center. They usually have a souvenir/gift shop at these places as well and so I wandered in. I finally found reasonably priced t-shirts that looked nice and so I bought a few different ones to send home to my family. Hopefully they fit. I think they will but I feel like I’ve been misjudging the sizes lately. Anyway – Mom – please let me know if the shirts fit when they arrive. I also found a nice hat that I loved and would wear, and a fabric bag that I will/do use to carry groceries. After my walk, I pretty much gave myself some down time to catch up on blogging. I’m getting behind pretty fast! Ahhhh!!!

December 11th

Today was the day to leave Rotorua and go to Lake Anewhenua. In the morning, I went to the Kiwi Bank and Post shop to mail yet another package of stuff home and send out another round of post cards. I got to the post shop early and so had to wait. They have a pretty cool place to put and lock your bikes here at the post shop. Check it out. I also then walked to the Countdown (one of the main supermarket chains here in NZ) to buy some groceries for the next few days/meals. I was surprised when I saw that this store (I don’t know about others), but they have special parking spaces, next to the handicapped spaces, for people with babies/children’s small enough for strollers! Take a look!

For the rest of what happened on December 11th, please go and read the KOHUTAPU Lodge and Tribal Tours blog post.

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