Saturday, 8 December 2012

Rotorua, New Zealand

This place is like a movie set. Little chocolate-box houses sit on freshly manicured lawns protected by cute little fences. The roads are dead quiet - there's little traffic. The first thing you notice is the eggy stench as you enter the town. There's steaming egg flavoured geysers everywhere - even the church car park has steam hissing out of it. This is why people come here - and the various geo-thermal wonderlands (Wai O Tapu being the most famous) attract many day-trippers from around New Zealand.

I checked into a Nomad hostel again! I know I said I wouldn't after Auckland but the travel desk told me it was much quieter - which it is. Unlike Auckland the rooms are huge and airy, with big opening windows letting in lovely fresh egg-air! On arrival I had an 8-bed dorm to myself.

Geysers tearing up the street - and not pissed-up London geysers!
Maori pattern
The lake
Rush hour
I went for a walk to the thermal area next to the lake. There's a few spa's here using the natural heat from the ground for the jacuzzi's and mineral pools. I was keen to have a spa, but it was quite pricey, and there were lots of couples - I would feel a little odd sitting there alone. Past the thermal area is the stunning old colonial bath house - now an art gallery and museum. With the bowling green in front it's screaming England at me! I chat about the weather with a friendly bowler, like a true Englishman.

Further round is a visitor centre, a few cafe's and a helicopter tour operator - with landing pads floating out on the bay. I sit and watch the heli-tours come and go. I have this geeky obsession with aviation, in particular helicopters. Several times I've thought about blowing my savings on lessons, with the view to becoming a pilot in some beautiful part of the world - Alaska, the Caribbean, Norway, Pacific island hopping... but it costs (on average) $90,000 to get a basic commercial licence - then you need 1000's of flight hours to even be looked at by one of these exotic positions - and there's minimal positions out there (I've checked!). Most likely you'd be servicing oil rigs, or flying rubber dog shit out of China.

I continue walking around the lake then turn back when the zinging midday sunshine fades and an evening chill starts to bite - I love this weather.

That evening four mid-twenties German girls check into the dorm. One is half-German half-Thai - a pleasing combination. They're all very friendly and certainly not shy - getting changed in front of me doesn't seem to bother them in the slightest (do they not know my ageing heart can't cope with that kind of stress??) They try and get me out on the pub crawl but I decline, stating that I don't drink (not actually too far from the truth at the moment), and get into bed with my laptop (at this very moment I can hear face-palming!)

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