Friday, October 26, 2007

Things I Did When I Gave Up Looking for Frodo, Part Two

Time for the next round of pictures from my 2006 trip to New Zealand.

When we last left off, my husband and I were at the Agrodome, where my husband completed his Zorbing quest. After he dried off, we made our way to Skyline Skyrides where we took a gondola to the top of Mount Ngongotaha--quite a spectacular view of Lake Rotorua. But the best part was when we took ski lifts to an even higher point on the mountain and then rode a luge on one of three awesome tracks back down. The New Zealand luge is not even remotely like the luge that they use in the Olympics. It's just a crappy piece of plastic on four wheels with a steering wheel that you pull back to drag some other piece of plastic on the ground in order to slow down. Kind of tough on your hands and wrists, but still incredibly fun--it was actually the high point of the entire vacation. Just imagine being on the top of a mountain looking out at a beautiful lake as you ride this little go-cart thingy down while taking in the extraordinary view. We went up and down and up and down countless times, and even went to another luge track in Queenstown at the end of our trip, but the one in Rotorua was much better. If you ever get the chance to do this, I highly, highly recommend it!

On the way back to our hotel to freshen up before dinner, we took a walk through one of Rotorua's many thermal parks. The town is famous (infamous?) for its sulfuric stench, resulting from geothermal activity in the area. There are bubbling pools, geysers, and clouds of fog all over the place. Here I am realizing that it is not fun to be enveloped in a cloud of stink!

Finally it came time to relax for a bit and we took in a traditional Maori tribe dinner and demonstration. If you've ever seen Whale Rider, then you are familiar with the Maori. They used intimidation tactics like widening their eyes and sticking our their tongues to ward off enemies invading their space when others started settling in New Zealand in the early 1800s.

The next few days were spent driving down to Wellington and taking a ferry over to the South Island. Soon we were in the Abel Tasman National Park region. We stayed several nights in the most awesome cabins in the world at The Resurgence. If you ever go to New Zealand and are in this area, this is where you must stay--check out their web site to see the views. The lodge hosts, who live in the main, huge cabin, made arrangements for us to go on a half-day kayaking trip in the national park. I am the worst kayaker in the world, and my husband and I had already had a bad experience kayaking in Thailand (let's just say that my arms give out after about, oh, ten minutes), so we knew what we were getting into. Except for one tumultuous area of mini-rapids that scared the crap out of me (but that most people found "fun"), it was a fairly smooth adventure (and yes, my husband still did most of the work, but I got blisters that proved I was doing something!). We lucked out - the only completely sunny day on the trip was this one. There were seals and rare birds all over the place, so that was cool, too.

Our trip recap will be concluded in Part Three...

- e

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