It took us just over four hours by coach from Auckland, through beautiful Hobbiton scenery to reach our new home for the next few days. It is very different to Auckland, and much more like the New Zealand we had imagined.
We are staying in a cute little backpackers, that has its own hot spa (most places seem to, to make the most of the weird thermal activity here). We arrived quite late in the afternoon so headed out to do our first NZ supermarket shop (exciting) at PakNSave, and went for a walk by the lakeside as the sun went down. As soon as it started getting dark it got really cold though, a little too cold for me after Asia!
This morning (with the help of the i-site staff) we headed out to the north of Rotorua to go Zorbing. The concept of rolling down a large hill in a giant transparent plastic ball was apparently invented here – something they are very proud of. We signed up for the Zydro where they chuck in a load of warm water with you, and both went in together.
It was so much fun, as you can tell by the stupid grins on our faces in the photos. They drive you to the top of a hill, you have to dive head-first into the plastic ball, they hose in some water and then zip up the middle part. Then we both had to kneel forward to start the ball rolling down the hill, where we promptly lost all control and were sent spinning around the inside.
At the bottom, completely soaked and disorientated you have to climb out the bottom of the ball, which there is no way to do without looking like the giant ball has just given birth to you. You then have to pose to cheesy thumbs up and jumping in air photos. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be (worried it would just be sickening) but I would only pay to do it once (at that cost anyway!).
After some lunch and solid-ground-time, we headed out to the park in Rotorua, where the hot mud and steamy ponds are. Wow it is smelly down there, but looks amazing, like some alien environment. Very surreal and great to wander around for a bit.
Not sure what we will be doing tomorrow, probably not Hobbiton as the cost is ridiculous, and we figure we can come back after The Hobbit has been filmed and see the sets of that too! We will probably just wander to the i-site (like tourist information) and see what they have suggested there.
Nic & Rob