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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, September 24, 2010

On our way to Roturua we stopped off for lunch at a place called Cambridge which was a very well to do area, lots of stud farms dotted about within massive plots of land. I popped into a public toilet which was the first on that I had to pay to use, it was 50c and when I went in the block there was a lady at a desk and I asked if I pay her, she replied "ten bucks" ehhh! Ten bucks I just stared at her and she said it again, so I just looked confused and followed the man in front of me to a metal turnstile. This time I realised what she was saying to me as she pointed to a tin box and said “ten buck” (pronounced teen buux) so I put my 50c in the tin box and entered to loo.  Crazy accent they pronounce their e's as i’s its so funny!

We later arrived in Roturua Town is famous for its sulpha rich air also known as 'Sulphur City’ and it’s amazing activities available. It has the most thermal activity in New Zealands and is one of the most tourist areas, so we decided to drop anchor for 4 days. And of course once the ‘have you dropped one?’ jokes had worn off we decided to get ourselves out and about starting off with a Kiwi Encounter, a few hundred years ago there was millions of kiwis roaming about and now the population half’s in size every year and in 1015 will be close to extinction, so the guys at this nursery collect kiwi eggs and bring then in to incubate them, then they keep the babies till they reach 3 months old and release them back into the wild.  It’s a constant battle for them as possums kill kiwis and there are reported 70 million possums in New Zealand, so it is recommended that if you see a possum on the road you are fine to run it over as they are classed as pests. The guide took us through the labs where we saw eggs, baby weeks old and a kiwi 2 years old.  They are so cute and the only flightless bird in the world with wings (about 4cm long).  It was quite sad as it is a constant battle to save the birds, a dog was reported to kill over 500 in one day as he ran off his lead, so now dogs are banned from kiwi protected areas.  It is slow progress but they have increasd the survival rate of the kiwi from 5% to 65%.

The weather wasn’t too good so in between the showers we tried to see as much as we could. We walked through a park just behind our campsite and passed a multitude of hot steaming springs, the smell was bad but amazing to watch all the bubbling mud splat out from the ground.  By the third day we realised these are everywhere, it’s amazing that the ground hasn’t collapsed, and why people would want to live near them is crazy with the sulphur smell.

The weather cleared up nicely in the afternoon so we headed to an adventure park to experience The Shweeb, New Zealands new ride. You basically sit in a box and have to cycle your way round a track next to your competitor like a monorail, they go really fast and when you go around a bend it tips up to one side.  We raced each other around the track with such speed it was so much fun.  Justin had another go on his own to try and beat his first time.  The guy who worked there told us that Google had just invested 1.4 million in the shweeb to make it a form of transport...watch this space!  The following day we drove to Whakarewarewa forest to get some trekking done amongst the mighty redwood trees.  We chose a 2 and a half hour walk which took us to a viewing point where we had excellent views over Roturua and a thermal park which stretched for about a mile, so we sat there and had our lunch. It was a loop walk and it was taking a little longer than it should have when I realised I recognised the route, we only started the walk again and walked about quarter way round the route again....fools!  The campsite had a thermal pool of its own so we chilled in there in the afternoon.  We met a couple from Perth in Scotland and as it was Saturday night we all decided to go and see a band in a local pub, it was so good to get out in a pub and I tried my best to educate a few local girls that gortex  and walking shoes are in, and heels leggings are out...so last season.  I don’t think they were having any of it, never the less I had a good night looking bad!

The following day we visited Wai-O-Tapu (meaning scared waters) Thermal Wonderland which is the most popular of them all.  There is a natural geyser (Lady Knox Geyser) which erupts every day at 10.15 so we made sure we were there in time to see it.  It is natural but the guide sets it off by adding eco friendly soap down the hole as it brings on the effects quicker, it would erupt every day buy at different times so this means we can all see it.  It was incredible he added the soap and it started foaming then bubbling then there was a rumbling noise and the steaming hot water started spraying up into the air, it reached about 15 meters high and stayed there for about 10 minutes.  We then spent a couple of hours in the park where we saw massive craters, mud pools, sulphur springs, geysers, multi coloured champagne pool and finally an luminous green spring.  It really was something to see, and because this part of New Zealand is right above two of the earth’s plates there is always activity here, volcano eruptions, earthquakes and activity within the geysers, scary to really think about it.   After being sensible for at least 2 hours we felt it was time to try a Zorb, there is two different kinds of zorb one where you are strapped in and roll down the hill spinning round and round and the other where you are not strapped in and there is water inside so you just slide about as you go down the hill.  We chose the dry spinning one and I went first, it was crazy the hill run wasn’t too long to look at but boy oh boy when you’re in it, it just keeps on rolling and rolling and rolling, spinning all over, and I felt really dizzy when I got out of it.  Justin went second and it was great to see him roll like a hamster in a ball!
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