Thursday, April 24, 2014

a trip to New Zealand

Wednesday we slept late and then drove south to the town of Rotorua, stopping for a delicious breakfast at a tiny roadside bakery. Every day should begin with hot chocolate and pie (a savory hand pie filled with bacon, eggs, and cheese…I swear I should have been born in a British colony!) New Zealand (the north island anyway) was formed by volcanic activity and nowhere is it more evident than in the thermal area of Rotorua. The air is filled with a sulfuric stench and steam rises up out of the ground in the most random of places. We stopped at Wai-O-Tapu, a park similar to, but on a much smaller scale than, Yellowstone with mud pots and geysers and all. Jenny wasn’t a huge fan but I loved it. I think mostly it reminded me of home and childhood and all my previous trips to Yellowstone.

Next we checked into our motel and were treated to pure New Zealand hospitality. The lady who owned the place checked us in and then asked if there was anything else we needed. I was on a quest to taste hokey pokey ice cream—a traditional treat made with chunks of honey comb-- and asked where the best ice cream shop was. She insisted on taking us to the grocery store instead (it would be cheaper), and drove us down the street to make our purchase. While we were in line waiting to pay, the guys behind us were buying mint and lamb flavored chips. I had grabbed a bag of Thai sweet chili flavored chips on an impulse and in a moment of ‘homesickness’. We proceeded to open each other’s bags and have a taste test there on the conveyor belt much to the dismay of our checker, I think. (I won, by the way.) Then we were back out to the car where our hostess with the mostess was telling us about the best way to eat our ice cream. Make a spider! Which we found out is like a float but you pour lemonade over it. Well, first off we’d bought chocolate flavored so I didn’t think that was a good idea but she insisted. When we got back to the motel she pulled out a couple of cans of Sprite (aka lemonade) and sent us back to our rooms to have our snack. We laughed over the lemonade snafu and then made hokey pokey floats which were surprisingly tasty!

That night we visited a Maori village for dinner and a cultural presentation. We were treated to a traditional hangi meal (cooked in the ground via steam) of all-we-could-eat lamb, veggies, and a million other things. It was delicious! Then we were taught about the Maori culture and witnessed a fabulous performance of traditional dances like the haka (always a treat!) After the show we walked to the wildlife park next door for a viewing of their kiwi birds. We had to be basically silent and look at them in the dark because they are so sensitive (plus that gave us a better chance to see them.) But it paid off. We got a great view of one. She was rooting around in the dirt, snuffling through the bushes and coming right up to the fence so we could see her. It was a fantastic sight.


  1. I'm slightly jealous of your Maori dinner. We did not do that as part of our Maori cultural center experience and I wish we would have. Love that you went to Rotorua and tried hokey pokey ice cream--it's a local must-try!

    1. It was great fun! Very similar though to the PCC in Hawaii. Have you been there?