Picture yourself on a farm in New Zealand: there are cows, ponies, goats, ostrich, reindeer, white sheep and black pigs ranging on lush pasture with steep hills rising up on all sides. The wind fills your ears, carrying the “baaas” of the lambs and the words “I’m bringing sexy back,” sung in Justin Timberlake’s high-pitched voice. In the middle of the animals a crane rises into the air, pulling back three men strapped to bungee cords–a contraption called the Swoop–and you spin around to see you are surrounded by attractions like bungee jumping, free-fall simulation, and something called a schweeb (a track with hanging pods that one lays in and pedals to race an opponent). This is not a dream fusing two worlds together. This is Agroventure.
Erin and I found ourselves here after spending almost 5 hours on a backpackers bus called the Magic Bus, which will take us down to Wellington, stopping in a few cities along the way. When we bought our seats we didn’t realize how often we’d be stopping along the way to our destination, Rotorua. Even though we did get to stop in Hobbiton for a total of five minutes, and then experience the strange pairing of farm and “adventure” (the ostrich were much more interesting than paying for any of the rides), we were relieved to finally reach arrive at our hostel, the Crash Palace, on Saturday night.
After settling into our room, we headed off to the Tamaki Maori Village, where we were invited in with a welcome ceremony and saw how the Maori lived in the 1800s. We toured the village, watched song and dance, and then ended the night with a feast! The food had been slow-cooked for five hours and then served in a big buffet, and I had my first taste of lamb in New Zealand. The experience was amazing, bringing us into the culture of the Maori and teaching us how the past and present fuse together.
Today we took it easy and slept in. After a slow morning, we walked 40 mintues out to the Redwood Forest and took a 3 1/2 hour hike. We have one more full day in Rotorua, and we’re spending the morning at Hell’s Gate Spa, taking mud baths, soaking in hot springs, and touring the geo-thermal park. If nothing else, we will be relaxed for the short bus ride to Taupo on Tuesday morning!