New Zealand North Island – Full day in Rotorua

Hello again everybody from stinky but beautiful Rotorua!

Today has been another long day filled with fun activities. We actually got a sleep in though which was a rarity while travelling but awesome! We mentioned in the last blog that we bought some marmite last night and had it on some toast for breakfast – pretty similar to vegemite, not a lot of difference which is a great thing because Vegemite is excellent. After that nice brekky we geared up in the pouring rain and drove down to Skyline Rotorua.

Skyline Rotorua is an adventure park that starts with a big gondola that starts at the bottom of a mountain and goes to the top. The view as you are heading up the gondola are beautiful. We always enjoy gondola rides. When you get to the top you can look out over all of Rotorua. The lake is massive and beautiful with the town of Rotorua surrounding it. There are a few different activities you can do at the top of the mountain. They have a canyon swing, a zip line, mountain bike tracks and a restaurant. We decided to have a go at the street luging. 

The luges are little go-kart type vehicles that roll down the hill. You have handlebars that you pull back on which activates the brakes. This was extremely fun. You’re basically racing these things down a mountain and you can pick up some real torque. It gets the adrenaline going and not to mention the amazing views as you’re heading down the mountains. One of the tracks goes through the redwood forest and has fairy lights throughout. When you get to the bottom you clip your kart into the stack and jump on a ski-lift which takes you back to the top. Extremely fun and beautiful activity. We spent a little time taking pictures and taking in the views at the top of the mountain before we moved onto our next activity. 

Our next activity was just down the road. This time it was the world famous Zorbing. Basically, Zorbing is climbing into a giant inflatable hamster ball that is half filled with water and rolling down a hill while inside. This sounds weird but it is incredibly fun. 

Zorbing photo

Once you start rolling down the hill the water splashes everywhere and you’re upside-down and wrong way up and back to front. It’s chaos. Incredibly fun time. When you get to the bottom you get to chill in a relaxing hot tub until it is your turn again. By the time we got here the weather had taken a bit of a turn. It was a little bit rainy and a little bit windy. It was still super fun and we enjoyed it thoroughly but our time got cut short due to safety risks of high winds. Would we recommend Zorbing? Absolutely. 

On our way back home we stopped for lunch at the famous American burger chain Wendy’s. This is not available in Australia so it was a surprising, but welcome sight to see here in NZ. This turned out to be very similar to McDonalds and really not great. Onion rings and nasty burgers aren’t all bad though and hits the spot when it is needed. It wasn’t long until we got back to the Airbnb to spend a few hours relaxing and preparing for tonight’s festivities.

Tonight we went to what is called a Traditional Maori Cultural Experience. It is basically the New Zealand version of a Luau. You get picked up in a bus by an incredibly entertaining bus driver who drives the group to a traditional Maori village that has been built in the woods. You get greeted with a traditional Maori war dance and greeting. Then you walk through the village and explore what it would have been like prior to colonisation.

It was raining heavily when we were here which made the experience a bit difficult. We watched  our food for tonight be prepared in a traditional Hangi where they bury all of the food underground to be cooked using hot coals. Then we piled into a hall where the show began. There was storytelling, singing, haka and jokes. Lorant and Ronnie got up and did a Haka of their own which was hilarious…ly bad. 

Then we went into a dining hall for more stories and songs as we ate a traditional Maori hangi that involved a ton of great food which was highlighted by the meat and vegetables in a buffet style. It was a really beautiful and fun night that engrossed ourselves in Maori culture. The entertainers were excellent, the food was delicious, the alcohol was flowing and it was overall a great experience. Whilst it is a bit touristy we believe that learning cultural aspects of native peoples is a vital part of travelling which leads to a richer understanding of the countries you travel to and their history.

Much love

Ronnie & Aimee.

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