Our first day in Rotorua we went on a trip to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the only remaining piece of set from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We had a nice sunny day for our visit and got to explore lots of the farming countryside featured in the filmÂ although you wouldn't recognise it unless you were prompted quite a bit! The remains of the Hobbiton village though is still quite good, you can explore inside Bag End and see all the hobbit holes in the hillside. Unfortunately the owners of the farm which the set is on cannot restore the holes to how they looked in the film, Hollywood won't allow it for some reason. But overall it was a fun day out and we got to feed the sheep on the farm.
TheÂ Saturday we had a bit of a lie in and an afternoon walk down by the lake. The World Championship jet boat races were being held on the lake, which scuppered our plans for a bit of pedalo action on the lake, but did provide some entertainment. We had an early night to get some rest in before our action packed day onÂ Sunday.
On Sunday morning we rose early to go for a White Water combo of Rafting and Sledging.Â We quite fancied easing ourselves in by rafting first, however the orgainsers had other ideas and put us in to do our sledging in the morning.Â For those of you who haven't heard of white water sledging, basically you go through the rapids holding onto a float / sledge which you can steer by angling your body. Check out the photos for a better idea! This was great fun and not as scary as we thought it would be! Got a few bumps and bruises from going over rocks and rapids but thoroughly enjoyed it. Luckily the Kaituna River which we went on is the warmest river in New Zealand because of the thermal activity underground, so it wasn't too cold.
After lunch weÂ we did our rafting. We had 6 of us in our boat and 2 guides, Chonk and Cam. Chonk was a bit of a daredevil and wasÂ feeling a bit bored so we went downÂ theÂ smaller waterfalls sideways, backwards, anyway but the usual way!! The first 2 waterfalls were a mear 2.5 and 3.5 metres high and we managed them no problem with nobody falling out. Then came the massive 7 metre waterfall, the highest commercial waterfall in the world. Our raft was the first out of the 3 to go down it. We went over the top fine and landed, but then went over on one side and flipped over! Ours was the onlyÂ boat to flip, but we actually thought that made the trip all the more fun. A bit further down the river we wentÂ through some rapids backwards and Marc,Â who was right at the front, fell out and went for a swim until he could catch us up! All in all it was a fantastic day and we'd definitely go again, great fun!
On a more relaxing note the next day we spent shopping in town becasue it rained solidly all day. We had gone to the Agrodome to do some zorbing and swooping but it didn't look like much fun in terrential rain so we came away again.
Last night though, when the rain had eventually calmed down we went to Mitae a Maori Village for a cultural eveningÂ with a hangi (meal cooked in an underground oven) and concert. We started the evening by choosing a chief from our group to represent us and to ask for us to be welcomed into the village for dinner. A guy from Auckland volunteered himself, and we all walked out to raise our hangi from the ground. We then walkedÂ through the bush to meet our tribe. The tribe came down the river on a waka (ancient warrior canoe) and sang traditional songs before we went up to the meeting house. Our cheif had to accept a peace offering from the tribe and give a speech (which he rambled on for ever!) thanking the chief for their hospitality, they then did the hungi (rubbing noses) and the concert bagan. We had nearly an hour of entertainment before dinner including lots of songs and dance and we learnt about the Maori weapons and musical instruments. The finale was of course the Haka. We then went through for dinner which was chicken, lamb, rice, kumara (sweet potato) and trifle!! After dinner we went back out into the bush to see their sacred spring which was surrounded by glow worms.
Today we went to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland to look at the strange thermal pools and geysers which dominate this area of New Zealand. Our first stop was a giant mud pool which was bubbling, then we moved onto watch the Lady Knox Geyser which errupts at 10.15am everyday with a little helping hand from the guide. He pours some soap powderÂ into the funnel of the geyser which makes it errupt. Otherwise the geyser only errupts once every 72 hours, so there's little chance of people being able to see it happen. We then moved onto the main area for a 75 minute walk around the rest of the sights. We saw giant craters and stinky pools of mud and sulphur, along with some stunningly bright pools of water and waterfalls. This place had some spectacular scenery and was well worth the visit. This afternoon we went up the skyline gondola and as we enjoyed it so much in Queenstown we went on the luge again!!
Tomorrow morning we leave hereÂ for Waitomo.Â