With my friend in town I thought it’d be fun to go away for the weekend. Another friend in Auckland had mentioned he hadn’t been to Rotorua for ages and I had a strong hunch my two friends would get a kick out of each other. That’s not to say instant friends, but truly find each other fascinating.
Afterwards, we loaded up on snacks and unhealthy things and set out. First, we stopped in Hamilton for lunch. A nice little town, or I suppose it’s a large town by New Zealand’s standards. It wasn’t a stunning day out, so we simply stopped for some burgers and a litte music at a nice bar/restaurant.
We continued on in the rain to Rotorua and checked into our hostel in town. We booked a room with four beds and hoped that we’d have the room to ourselves. We set out from the hotel for Kairau Park and wandered around the smelly sulfuric grounds. It was a lovely day in the park, despite the rain. My friends, after a 3 hour car ride and lunch were getting along swimmingly at this point. Much like siblings, they teased each other so fiercely I was worried they harbored serious distaste towards each other, but in reality, it was fondness. We all got some great sights in. Looking at the boiling mud is always a great reminder how powerful this earth is.
Next, we wandered to Lake Rotorua and St Faiths, an Anglican church with strong Maori undertones. Again, despite the sad weather, it was just so wonderful to see a nice window into New Zealand. Rotorua is a great slice of the oddities of this country.
We had a wonderful dinner at Fat Dog Cafe. I’d gone before with Andrew and we’d really enjoy it. My friend had an amazing burger, but we’d decided to save room for dessert and head home. Skippy brought the beer, I the ginger beer. We had cookies and a rather large L & P chocolate bar between us. In the common room, we set up the longest game of Fluxx I’ve ever played as well as a handful of rounds of Jungle Speed. A young woman from Sweden spotted the game and I saw that sparkle in her eye, so I invited her to join us. A nurse, she was traveling around New Zealand for a month or two and was a big fan of Jungle Speed, a fast paced matching game. Having spent so much time here, I’m still rather jealous of her on her travels. It is a wonderful country and exploring it just fills me with so much wonder!
That evening, we were joined by a fourth in our a room. A gentleman from Taiwan. He was very pleasant, but it did make it a bit awkward for us needing to get ready in the dark as he’d arrived and gone to bed nearly immediately. He was gone before we all woke up in the morning.
After rolling out of bed, we decided to take advantage of the sun as we weren’t sure it’d last. We hit up a gondola ride to the top of a mountain near Rotorua. The requirement to wear helmets was a bit much for one of our group, but Skippy and I donned them with pride and took off on a gravity powered luge down the mountain. After the scenic route, we popped on down the advanced track and had a blast. It was so fast and much too short! There was even a jump, which came outta no where and gave me a start! I love these! I’d love to see America incorporate these in some places. It’s a great way to blend scenic views and fun.
The view from the top was pretty stunning as well and there was a short nature walk up there which made the whole endeavor that much nicer.
Around this time, our stomachs were grumbling so we took off towards town again for some sustenance and to decide what the afternoon would hold. After much indecisiveness, (so very, very much) we all agreed on Te Wairoa, the Buried Village. A long meander back to the car, and we were off just south of the city.
The Buried Village was a town which was buried in mud and gunk after a volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. The town was rather popular given there were some stunning pink and white terraces which were formed from silica in the water and were heated from the active geological activity. Sadly, this meant that the sudden volcanic activity killed around 150 people, and, less devastating but still unfortunate, destroyed the terraces.
The site was neat to see, the concept being far more intriguing than perhaps the sites themselves. It’s really scary to think about an active volcano unexpectedly erupting, especially living in Auckland in which you can see peak after peak of volcanoes. Dormant mostly. The site had a lot of information, and so it was interesting to read and see how people lived in New Zealand in the late 1800’s. Nothing like a volcanic eruption to freeze buildings and forcibly pause one way of life in time. Years ago I’d gone to Pompeii in Italy and was simply floored and stunned by what a volcano can do, and how people lived in 79AD. I think seeing these things really brings me back to astronomy and really drives home that we’re just tiny little fortunate accidents that exist on a huge hunk of rock with a molten core. Lucky us.
In addition to the scary and solemn stuff, there was also a very pretty waterfall and some nice views. A nice visit was had by all.
Afterwards, we decided to head back home so as not to get in too late. We stopped at a blueberry store on the way back. Rumor had it they had a museum, and while history museums don’t intrigue me, a blueberry museum sounded awesome. Regrettably, they were closed for renovations. Shame. Anyone else up for a three hour drive to a blueberry museum?
Last stop was the Hamilton Gardens for a short stop. Just before I felt it necessary to obnoxiously call out for moooooom or daaaaaaad to cull the friendly banter between my two friends we were back in Auckland. I hope I speak for all of us when I say it was a very successful weekend.