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New Zealand: Fenton Park and Flowers

The New Zealand Christmas Tree

Fenton Park was just a couple of blocks from our room at Alpin Motel and Conference Center. It was a nice place to visit.

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New Zealand: Short Vignettes about the New Zealand

Red flowers at Parnell Rose Garden

One of the first things we noticed about New Zealand was the fresh air. We breathed in deeply and felt exhilarated. It smelled so good, and we were still in Auckland. On the Auckland Explorer Bus tour, we decided to visit the Parnell Rose Gardens. We could smell the roses as we stepped off the bus. While smokers, and the rare black smoke vehicle, can change the air quality for the worse, we were overjoyed to be able to experience clean air for most of our trip to New Zealand.

New Zealand Money

New Zealand’s money has a slick texture that is kind of stiff. It’s clear that it’s made from something other than what the U.S. uses. I asked the women at the bank where we exchanged money, and she said that New Zealand currency is made from polyurethane. If it gets wet, you just have to wipe it off; there’s no damage to the money at all.

Eating out in the Afternoon

Finding a place to eat gets tricky around 3:30 in the afternoon when many cafes stop serving and some restaurants haven’t opened for dinner. Usually it just takes a little more walking, settling for a higher-priced meal, or ducking into a dairy (convenience store) for a hot pie.

Tiritiri Matangi’s Jumping Spider

When we sat down to eat at the Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife Sanctuary, I opened my bag and pulled out what we had packed. I put my arms on the table and noticed a spider running along the top. It ran back and forth along the edge, sometimes disappearing to the underside.

The birds tweeted and sang. Some flew close to our table. “You better stay close spider.” He turned to face me. “Those birds may try to eat you.” He hid under the table. He came back up and we talked. I pulled my backpack from the ground and began to put things away.

The spider must have thought I was okay for a human because he crouched down, wiggled his butt and sprang onto my backpack. I screeched and fell back. Then I brushed him off the pack. He fell to the ground and walked away. I felt a little bad. After all, we were just becoming friends, but I couldn’t overcome my fear to make this friendship work.

The Fern Trees of Tiritiri Matangi

The tree ferns on Tiritiri Matangi grow up like trees. They are hollow on the inside, so when they get to tall, they die because they aren’t able to provide water to the upper reaches to stay alive. This height is more or less uniform among the plants. There must be a reason why they don’t just stop growing before they reach that height. (If you purchase my book “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly” from Amazon or from this website, I will give $1 of the proceeds to Tiritiri Matangi Island for their work with New Zealand’s native species including Little Blue Penguins.)

Wellington Cable Cars

You can take a cable car in Wellington from the downtown area up the hill to the botanic garden and a stop for Zealandia. However, this form of travel isn’t limited to public transportation. Some homes have their own cable cars, and it’s the only way they can get supplies to their homes.

Rotorua’s Atmosphere

Going from the wind and storm of Wellington, Rotorua was warm and full of birdsong. People warned us about the smell of sulfur in the air, but it came and went without any rhyme or reason. Is sulfur in the air healthy? Does it smell fresher than other pollutants? I’m not sure, but it definitely was interesting. Rotorua did have its own storms. I told Jenya that New Zealand doesn’t have many thunderstorms, and 20 minutes later, the lightning and thunder rained down on us in our hot tub.

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New Zealand: Photos from Whakarewarewa in Rotorua

The arch in front of Whakarewarewa

Whakarewarewa, the Living Maori Village, is a great place to find geothermal activity and Maori culture. We enjoyed the hangi pie, cooked using the natural geothermal activity, and the presentation of Maori dances, songs, and the haka. There are several places to walk and observe the geothermal features of the area. Here are some photos from our trip there.

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New Zealand: Photos from Rotorua

Maori sculpture in Rotorua

Rotorua and its smell of sulfur was a great place to visit. They had an amazing used bookstore, Atlantis, where we found several books for cheap. (I should have bought more.)

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New Zealand: Lake Rotorua Photos

Swan and chicks

We took the lunch buffet cruise on the Lakeland Queen. It got stormy that lunchtime, so they had to change the route they took on the lake.

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New Zealand: Government Gardens in Rotorua

Government Gardens Archway

The museum in the Rotorua Government Gardens has been closed because of concerns about earthquake safety. There are places for lawn bowling, geothermal attractions, and a pool.

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New Zealand: Rotorua’s Alpin Motel and Conference Centre Provides a Great Place to Stay

Alpin Motel and Conference Centre

Rotorua’s Alpin Motel and Conference Centre was our favorite motel in New Zealand. It had all the comforts of home and added a hot tub filled with geothermally heated and mineralized water. The room was large, had a kitchen, and the couple in charge were really nice. The motel was the only place we stayed that provided a French press, or plunger, and ground coffee to go in it. (Everywhere else had instant coffee.)

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New Zealand: Rotorua on a Rainy Day

The Rotorua Museum, closed for earthquake renovations

We decided to walk into town this morning over going to another attraction like Te Puia or Waimangu Volcanic Valley. There were a lot of gray clouds, but we had purchased waterproof coats in Auckland, so we thought we could weather the storm.

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New Zealand: Experience Life the Traditional, Geothermal Way at the Living Maori Village of Whakarewarewa

Hangi, corn on the cob and steam pudding all prepared through geothermal steam

The Living Maori Village of Whakarewarewa in New Zealand near Rotorua sits on a geothermal site filled with mud pots, geysers, and boiling water. The people living in the village harvest the heat as they have since first occupying this space in 1325. The true name of “Whaka” is the second longest place name in New Zealand. For the ease of use, it is often shortened with a pronunciation of “waka” rather than the Maori pronunciation, which sounds too close to an English swear word.

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New Zealand: A Short Survey of Rotorua

Champagne Lake

By booking a Hobbiton/Waitomo tour and travel together with Bush and Beach, we were able to extend our time in Rotorua by a day. That’s great news because Rotorua is a volcanic bonanza of amazingness.

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