Friday, December 19

Wellington to Rotorua

(see map) trin: We departed the ferry in Wellington on December 14th which happened to be Steve's birthday.

Having lived in Wellington while working on The Lord of the Rings and King Kong he had a few friends to meet up. That night we went out to one of his favorite restaurants, Mt Fuji Teppanyaki, where we drank warm sake and took turns trying to catch our dinner as it was flung at us by the chef.

In Wellington we visited the newly open Colossal Squid Exhibit. It was pretty big. Its eyeball is the size of a soccer ball.

Continuing to dodge the wet and windy weather we visited The Da Vinci Machines Exhibit. I have seen it three times now but I am still amazed by the broad range of ideas that came out of that guy's head.

Ok. If you ever visit Wellington you must eat at Pizza Pomodoro. Apparently, the Italian Prime Minister cried after eating a slice on his last visit to New Zealand. Seriously Good Stuff.

From Wellington we started our road trip through the North Island. First stop, Wanganui where we visited the local highlights. One of which was the war memorial in Queens Park.

My Dad, Harley, joined us on the North Island. Here we are in front of New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo.

After many stops at parks and scenic view points, we eventually arrived in sulphur scented Rotorua. As New Zealand's biggest tourist destination, the city has many things to offer: Maori cultural centers, thermal landscapes and extreme attractions. On our first day we focused on the later.

First stop was the Zorb, where we all took turns rolling down the hillside in a giant inflatable ball.

We followed that up with the Swoop, a giant crane operated swing, and Shweeb, racing each other around a track in little glass capsules.

Janelle and I laughing uncontrollably, after her hair raising scream on the free fall.

Mike and my dad get ready to take the Swoop.

Final stop was the gondola ride and luge. With three courses and hairpin turn, Rotorua's luge definitely takes first place in our book. Having a group of friends to race with only added to the fun. Both Steve and I drove off the course as the competition heated up.

 borrowed from Kate Bodger

That evening we learned about the Maori culture at a dinner and show.

The Maori warrior comes out of the meeting house to assess if we are threat. After determining we're a bunch of tourist he offered a greeting to our chief.

For the grand finale that evening there was an erupting geyser and stellar sunset.

The following day we headed out of town to the Wai-o-Tapu thermal reserve to see the Lady Knox Geyser erupt and walk through the colorful but smelly thermal pools.

After ten fun filled days, we said goodbye to Janelle & Steve. They started for Auckland and then home for the holidays while we headed to Wooley's Bay in the Northlands with my

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