That’s not a typo and I haven’t had too much to drink.
We’ve had a day of sampling most of what Rotorua has to offer, though we’ve ignored the skydiving and while we considered the sky swing, we decided not to after hearing the banshee wails of the woman riding it.
“Hearing her screaming is sufficient. I think,” said my friend.
That is a statement I would be uncomfortable hearing out of context.
Rotorua has a long history of spa bathing. The Maori would soak daily in the soothing waters of the thermal pools.
From the early 19th century, people started to travel from afar to Rotorua to ‘take the waters’ and by the 1870s “health travellers” were starting to visit. The first bath house opened in 1908 and was used as a treatment facility for the soldiers returning from World War One.
As I mentioned yesterday, it closed in 1966 but Rotorua is not short of spa facilities.
The Polynesian Spa, one of the most famous, opened in 1972 and we started our day there for breakfast.
I’d spotted a bagel and coffee the night before and Mr How Fucking Much loves a bargain.
For the princely fee of 10 NZD we expected a coffee with a bagel and a pot of strawberry jam. We were so wrong.
Freshly prepared plates of two sliced bagels, layered with spinach, crispy bacon, hollandaise sauce and lightly poached eggs were placed in front of us all. Yes, Eggs Benedict.
We were less inclined to use the spa facilities. Mr How Fucking Much had spotted a 35 NZD price tag and we knew the Blue Baths next door in Government Gardens offered swimming for 11 NZD.
(I need to work out an appropriate nickname for the third member of our party).
The Blue Baths opened in 1933 and were the first facility that offered a non-therapeutic swimming venue – i.e. somewhere to come for fun.
It closed in 1982 but was reopened in 1999 as a restored facility with additional heated pools.
The open air pool was in full sunshine from shortly after 10am and, while Mr How Fucking Much wandered off to the lake shore to buy tickets for our evening’s entertainment, we had the pool to ourselves.
Not bad for 11 NZD each.
The hot pools by the side of main facility were, we were told, at temperatures of 38°C and 42°C.
We tried them both. We couldn’t tell the difference.
It’s an incredible community facility to have on your doorstep, especially charging such a reasonable (comparing with Manchester, UK prices) fee.
The building is also a party venue and staff were setting up for a large gathering while we were there, in the room overlooking the pool.
From here, we drove around 5km to Skyline Rotorua. After a morning’s relaxation, it was time for some adrenalin.
We may have done that the wrong way around.
It’s an all year around attraction where you can go zip wiring (which I love), ride a sky swing (not convinced), go mountain biking (you are joking), or ride a luge down the mountain as many times as you would like (now we’re talking).
For anyone staying in hotels or guesthouses in Rotorua, discount tickets can usually be secured and we got a 10% reduction on a Gondola + Luge ride, paying 42 NZD each.
The views from the top are stunning, though sticking the Sky Swing in front of some of the nicest viewing space was a mistake. In my view.
I did manage a couple of decent shots without the meccano-like frame blocking the view.
We had not one, but two, Gondola rides up and down the mountain.
We had misread the tickets and assumed it was a one way trip with the luge being our transport Ba down the mountain.
It’s good to be a pessimist.
There are three tracks down the mountain… Scenic, Intermediate and Advanced. With my toboggan riding expertise honed at the Great Wall of China, I was all set to ride the Advanced route.
That’s what I thought.
As it was our first ride of the day, we were all put on Scenic.
Actually, it’s a great track, surprisingly lengthy as opposed to the blink and it’s over experience I was expecting. The luges run surprisingly quickly and the track had quite a few hairpin bends.
It was great and, once we reached the bottom, we discovered it wasn’t over… back up the mountain on a chairlift with the option to do this as many times as you want, then back down the mountain via the Gondola.
Cutting the experience short?
We had a boat to catch.
To be continued….
Writing the morning after the night before, I am delighted to report that the Wine Cruise was a stunning success with none of us lost overboard while taking photographs on deck.
For the sum of 37 NZD each, we enjoyed a one hour cruise with a free glass of wine (from a good selection of New Zealand brands) and a plate of breads and dips.
The boys mocked me for choosing the moat expensive glass of wine as my freebie. Well, yes, I’m not going to save it for when I have to pay.
We sailed with Lakeland Queen on a paddle-driven boat – a new mode of transport for me on this trip.
The cruise took us past the key viewing points of Lake Rotorua including Sulphur Bay where the steaming thermals looked rather ominous in the early evening.
Although sunset wasn’t for another couple of hours, the sky was fairly dark as we sailed alongside Mokoia Island and Kawaha.
Rotorua has a lot to offer for a few days and there’s one more stop before we head to our next destination.