The past two weekends have been filled with adventure and travel. Last weekend, which was Keri and Zoe's last weekend in NZ we took a 7 hour bus ride up the North Island to Rotorua. The town is well known for its' Maori culture as well as active geysers, hot springs, and mud pools. We arrived in Rotorua (also called Rotovegas by some of the locals) in the late evening of Thursday May 20th. The next day we packed in a lot of activities, as it was really our only day in the town. First we visited Te Puia which is an area with an active geyser and tons of hot pools. Everyone warned me that when you get to Rotorua you will know by its' smell. This is in fact true, especially when you are around the geysers. The smell of sulfur is almost overwhelming, but good thing my nose has become accostomed to this smell after living in Florida. After walking around Te Puia we took a local bus to Skyline where you can take a gondola up to the top of the mountain to see the entire town. Also up there we got to take a few turns riding down their luge track. Keri of course being the daredevil rarely used the breaks on the luge, while I was riding the breaks the whole way down.
Here I am with the geyser at Te Puia
Ready to luge!
I brought Keri and Zoe to the airport on Tuesday morning and after having a wonderful two weeks with them sent them on their way back to Florida. I think the both enjoyed their trip here and by the end were both convinced they had to study abroad at some point of their four years of college.
This past weekend I took a trip north to Lake Taupo. Me and three of my Kiwi friends (Jess, Lisa, and Liam) all stayed at a timeshare house that Jess's family has. Lucky for us the house was equipped with its' own hot tub which we took full advantage of. Lake Taupo was created by a volcano over 20,000 years ago and is in fact the crater left from the eruption. While I am completely partial to Lake Champlain in Vermont, I have to say that this is definitely a close second on my favorite lakes list. Traveling with Kiwis was definitely a different experience from traveling with other tourists. My friends knew all the places to take me in order for me to get the full effect of the town. Saturday morning we started of at Huka Falls which is part of the Waikato River. Around 220,000 liters of water goes through the falls ever second and that was quite evident by the fast flow of the river.
After Huka Falls we went to Craters of the Moon, which similar to Te Puia in Rotorua boasts several geysers, hot springs, and mud pools. As soon as we walked into the park you could see steam coming up in every direction. It took us 45 minutes to walk the boardwalk through the park and to see all the pools and geysers. Next stop on our trip was the largest wine cellar in New Zealand. There were thousands of bottles of wine from all over the world ranging from $20 to several thousand dollars. Here we got to sample a few of New Zealand's most popular wines.
After a day of sight-seeing we enjoyed a hot tub and then later my friends showed me Taupo nightlife.
One of the many mud pools at Craters of the Moon
Sunday morning we enjoyed one of the many amentities that the timeshare offered, a mini golf course! After a leisurely game of putt putt we took out the bikes that the house had and took a ride around the lake. This was a great way to see the lake and several of the summer homes and other attractions around it. Along the way we spotted the "Lake Taupo Hole-in-One Challenge". This was pretty much a tee that you hit a golf ball off of with the intention of getting it onto a pontoon set up out in the middle of the lake with the high hopes of getting it into one of the three holes on the pontoon. We stopped and watched a few eager men try at this for awhile, but no one was lucky.
Taking a break from the bike ride at Lake Taupo. After our bike ride around the lake we packed up and set off for our drive back to Wellington. Along the way we stopped at a few places for some pictures. We first stopped at this spot along the lake where I guess a bunch of the locals usually go cliff-jumping in the summer time. My friends tried to convince me to jump in the lake, but it was just a bit too cold for me. We also stopped at the Army Museum, which unfortunately was closed but we did get to check out the old tanks and cannons outside. Finally we stopped in the Town of Bulls where EVERYTHING and I mean everything in the town has Bull in the name.
We finally arrived back in Wellington around 10 pm and I was definitely ready for bed. This is my last week of class and then the next few weeks are for finals. Luckily for me I only have one in class test which is Thursday and a take home final due early next week. I'm hoping to get one more trip in before I depart for the US on June 23rd. My time here has been absolutely amazing and hopefully you all have been able to see that through my blogs!
Hope everyone is well and enjoyed their Memorial Day Weekend!