Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 11 - Rotorua

Day 11: Rotorua
NZ Fact:
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.5%
industry: 25.8%
services: 69.7% (2009 est.)

Pop pictorial quiz, answers:
1. What are the large dog and sheep figures made of? Corrugated steel
2. What is DB doing? Riding in a small trailer behind Mark as we get a tour of the farm, she is NOT herding cows
3. Name the vegetable and what it is used for? Turnips, and the cows are put to graze in the turnip patch and they eat the vegetable and greens (does the milk taste like turnips? Sometimes….)
4. The next three pictures are of fruits, what do they have in common? They are all kiwis, the regular, the cocktail, and the golden (coming soon to a market near you)
5. What are all those tires being used for? Holding down the silage just harvested, about 130,000 pounds (or is it 130k kilograms?) worth under there
6. What is unusual about the dog in the two pictures? What type of dog is it? The dog has pink front legs (see new pic) and snout from wallowing in and near weedkiller sprayed that day, and thus it is the very rare pink-legged border collie
7. What sport is being played on the picture of the TV? It is 7 on 7 rugby, and there is an international tournament underway in Wellington, and NZ wins the whole thing the next night, and

This just in: Las Vegas is hosting the next 7 on 7 rugby tournament, next weekend. Damn, who knew? Look for it on the front of your sports page (the two of you that still read a newspaper).

Pictures: at the Saturday morn farmers market, the steaming pools near city centre (this area is full of hot baths and smells like sulfur), local lakes and waterfall, and a Maori dinner show complete with canoeing in a small stream (see pic), and THB and Mark getting ready for a10pm glow worm hunting adventure.

Hey, we sleep until the sun is up, between 9 and 10 hours…farm life is agreeing with us! Breakfast is cereal and yoghurt (included), and first we stop at the Agridome to check out wool for knitting (unsuccessfully), then to see the steaming mud/water baths in the middle of town. This town smells like sulfur (the locals say they don’t notice, maybe after 5 years? It is pretty pervasive.).

And, right next door is a farmers market, and there are many stands selling meat type food and doing a booming business first thing in the morning, far better than the veggie stands. Note the pics, Pop Quiz: what is a Boys Dip and why is it only $3? We try fry bread: it is much denser than Navajo fry bread and doughier than a sopapilla (which it mostly resembles), cooked like a doughnut or french fries in a vat of oil. Eaten with butter and jam or honey, more of an acquired taste; we share one for $1.50. Then we try a very large (see pic) pork bun that looks like char sui bao; this one with more of a molasses pork filling. We can’t finish it, too cloying (the bun is good, and very similar to what we get), $2.10.

We pick up three unusual salads, tomatoes with onions, pumpkin with blue cheese, and beets with carrots and mint, and two ice teas for a picnic lunch, $35, and then drive about 10 miles out of town to visit the Buried Village, covered over in the 1880s when the local volcano erupted (hence all the hot springs and sulfur). The village existed because of the local tourist attraction, a series of white and pink terraces, now just being rediscovered by archeologists at the bottom of a nearby lake (it will be a while before anyone gets to see them again).

Then back to sit by Blue Lake (pic of kids on raft), where waterskiing is going on, to picnic, nap, and for THB to go for a dip. The water is perfect: cool and not cold, and very clear.

Back to town for a nature walk along Lake Rotorua where we find out the path has been wiped out by recent rains between stops 3 and 4 on our map. Fortunately, we started at the back, at number 16. When the sun comes out, it is at least 90, with the ever-present humidity. When overcast or shady, it feels far cooler. More thermals and bubbly spots, including one called the Coffee Pot (see pic) that people used to soak in by tying themselves to nearby trees and lowering themselves in the mud. Recently, a boy of 8 died when he jumped the fence and went into one of the pools, apparently this happens one or two times a year.

Return to the farm for another rest and snacks (“Tea”) with Sophie and Mark, chatting away while overlooking the lake in the distance, sitting in the shade with a breeze.

At 6, we head back towards town to attend a traditional Maori dinner and show. The dinner is underwhelming: chicken, lamb, many veggie dishes deep in sauce we don’t try, sweet, baked and scalloped potatoes (a Maori dish borrowed from the French or British?), and store bought dessert (like a Noel log) and a trifle that is almost all whipped cream and sponge cake. The show is pretty good, including the canoe entrance (see pic) and lots of dancing by a cast of 15, six women and 9 men, the intimidating Haka dance near the end, and some repartee by the “chief” who explains a lot of the Maori customs. We leave early, missing out on group singing (the audience of around 140 is 95% foreign tourists) and the glow worms.

THB DOES NOT MISS THE GLOW WORMS!! After the finals of the 7 on 7 (on TV, NZ victorious over England), Mark offers to take THB to see the glow worms. Hey, THB even gets to dress up in overalls (one size too small, farm humor) and mud boots (more farm humor, Mark brings out a pair of boots with one size 9 and one size 8…watch the guy struggle with a boot that doesn’t fit!). It is after 10pm, and finally THB sees stars, and the Southern Cross. Many stars, a full sky! On the bike (ATV) we go for a short ride, turn on our torches (flashlights) and start climbing down a gully using ropes as a guide. After about 5 minutes of climbing down, we get to a spot where there are 100s of small glow of blue, almost opal-like, on the side of the gully. Glow worms are about an inch long, hang off the side of the gully, using their glow to attract night bugs into their webs (worms making webs!). Then we head through a 75 foot tunnel carved out of the rock, dug out by Mark’s father and uncles 50 years ago (it took them 6 years) to help channel the water away from their driveways above. Then climbing up ladders and more ropes to return to the bike.

Quite the adventure!


  1. David and Margaret BFebruary 5, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Hi Ralph and Donna,
    We went to the same Maori village show -but we stayed for the glow-worms!!
    Waimangu Volcanic valley was a good experience too.
    We're enjoying the photos-bringing back many memories.
    Margaret and David

  2. Hey, we should've stayed, when DB asked the guy told her just about the "singing"...we skipped the Waimangu VV in favor of a short visit to Tongariro NP...THB