It was a quiet morning today. Took it slow and managed to get breakfast done and camp put up (in the rain) by 10:30. Managed to find some very cheap internet downtown, did some skyping/e-mails until noon. Headed down to the lakeshore and read a bit. What did I want to do today? The weather forecast is for off and on rain today, lots of showers tomorrow, and clearing by Sunday. Things in Taupo that I wanted to do were a bit slim. But Rotorua, just 45 miles away, had a few things. . . Two calls later and my next two days were set. I was headed to Rotorua.
Sitting on a park bench on the Taupo lakeshore with my copy of Lonely Planet (the greatest evidence that you're a tourist that you can carry).
I was actually here before back in 2004:
Taupo from the same spot in 2004, when I was young, loved yellow, and apparently had a man-bag.
Off I headed in my rockin' Nissan Bluebird. Short trip, no problems. I am getting used to the whole left-hand-side-of-the-road thing.
Manage to find a tent site - this is significant as New Year's is a busy time, and a lot of the campgrounds are full up. It's not even a rip off, and has the usual kitchen, hot showers, and a hot tub. It's on the lake shore as well.
Looking toward the lake. Home sweet home.
As soon as I pitched the tent, it started pouring rain. I spent about two hours reading in the tent while the squall ran its course. At that point, it was time for a bit of exploring down by the lakeshore.
Interestingly, hot marshy pools are all around this area. Notice that I did not mention "clean".
It is said that the hot springs and pools have miraculous healing powers. This looks like just the place to try it out!.
While the lakeshore was a bit of a bust, the distant scenery was New Zealand-standard rugged and beautiful.
A bit more wandering to wake up fully, and then a drive out to the Zorb.
Zorb is not a common word to use, mostly because climbing into the middle of a giant beach ball and rolling down a steep hill is not a common thing to do. It is a pasttime that originated in New Zealand about 5 or 6 years ago, and I saw a TV program talking about it at the time. Since I saw it in action, I have wanted to try Zorbing. It is a totally tourist thing to do, but I don't care.
The Zorb is, basically, two giant plastic beach balls, one smaller than the other and suspended in the middle by hundreds of elastic cords. That means that the inner "chamber" is well-insulated from harm. The whole zorb is something like 10 feet tall.
Coming out of the Zorb sort of reminds me of a lot of the deliveries I have done.
They drive you to the top, and you get to choose between rolling straight down (faster) or going on a curved track (longer and more bouncing involved).
I am feeling invincible right now (this is my run). This is that force field they were always talking about pretending to have when you first start driving.
I definitely went for the windy one. I snuck my camera into the Zorb and recorded a movie as I went, but, on official review, it mostly shows way too much thigh as I roll around this thing and my fingers end up over the lens for half the trip as I try to keep my grip on it, so it will not be posted.
End of the line. I was hoping there would be an American Gladiator-style Zorb fight, but no dice.
I ended up going again - figure you only come here once. It's even more fun the second time, as I figure out that you can jump around this thing and get rolled almost completely to the top of the chamber if you try hard enough.
Crowning as I exit the Zorb.
Well worth the time. No vomit involved.
Headed back to Rotorua (9km away) and grab my book. The town sits right on a lake, and they have a wonderful, wide lakefront walkway full of benches and lawns and playground equipment.
I settle myself onto one of the unoccupied benches. People stroll past, no one is in a hurry, and there is a gentle drone of conversation, that can be heard just above the breeze. The sun has decided to show itself. It is hard to describe, but this feels very much like vacation.
Welcome to my idea of true relaxation.
The wind kicks up and down, but steadies eventually at a perfect temperature. My book is even good by summer reading standards. Black swan and seagulls wait expectantly (and, often, without much patience) for crusts of bread that the sign states should never, ever be fed to them. This rule is very casually broken by most people. No tickets are written.
Just. . . pleasant and happy.
Trying to get artsy again.
I end up feeling hungry, so off to the local pizzeria for a small pie. I come back here to finish off the pizza with a sunset, and manage to finish my book with the last of the waning light.
Downtown Rotarua, where pizza comes from.
Back to the tent. I have to get up early tomorrow, as I am set up to get some river kayaking lessons starting at 9:30AM in Okere Falls. I hadn't thought through the name much until now - wondering just how extreme things are going to get.
Oh, well, Should be fun regardless.