In the morning, everyone’s delighted to find that in addition to cereal, Piwi has provided French toast for breakfast. It means we can fuel up before I say goodbye to everyone, as I’m sticking around Rotorua for a few days.
Rotorua is our morning stop, but a lot of people stop here for a few days as it’s got a lot of adrenaline activities available. It’s also known for its thermal activity, resulting in hot pools and a strong sulphuric smell. I hadn’t realised how bad it was since I’ve only visited the bus station, but get anywhere close to one of the parks, and the smell of rotten eggs is everywhere.
I hadn’t planned on doing any of the adventure activities as I really couldn’t afford anything – but thanks to the additional discount at Waitomo, I have a little spare cash to play with again. Most people are going to Hobbition, but I’ve already done that. Instead, I decide to go do something I’ve wanted to try ever since I heard about it, Zorbing.
A zorb is essentially a giant inflatable ball with a hollow centre and a small amount of warm water inside (just enough to make it slippy). You hop in, get zipped up, and are tossed down a hill. You can even have up to 3 people in a zorb for speed. There are several companies in Rotorua who offer it, but Stray go with the ‘original’ zorb company.
It costs $39 to do a single zorb, or $29 for two people – but two can only do the ‘Fast Track’. The additional tracks are ‘The Drop’ and ‘The Zig Zag.’ I decide on the zig zag, and as there’s a discount for multiple rides, add a double ride with another girl for $9.
This is hands down one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. From the outside the zorb looks pretty slow, but when you’re in it everything’s a blur while you get thrown around, bouncing over hills and at the whim of gravity. By the time I got to the bottom, all I wanted to do was go up and do it again.
Course, I had to wait as you need to be driven up, and the truck was having issues. But that didn’t matter as the company also offered a hot tub for people to warm up with after zorbing. All of the group that had come zorbing had to all but be dragged out of the warm water because it was so comfortable! The little girls on the tour especially loved the bubbles.
Eventually though, we dragged ourselves out and up for the next ride. The Fast Track was less fun than the zig zag for me. Due to the extra weight and lack of obstacles we didn’t move around as much, and the speed actually made the zorb ball kind of painful for my back. The best part was near the end when it reached the bottom of the hill and started bouncing around, sending us flying. After that, I nestled into the hot tub and waited for the others to finish their rides. Would have liked to try the third route, but really didn’t have the money.
The bus doesn’t leave Rotorua until 1pm, so we have about 2 hours after finishing up zorbing to explore Rotorua. Despite eating such a big breakfast, we’re all a little hungry and stop off at a café Maverick recommended called The Fat Dog. Unfortunately, he neglected to mention the prices – its way out of our budget and we wander off to find somewhere else. We all get a bit separated and I end up being the one picking somewhere, and I pick for price. This ends up being a mistake for me because I have to resist the urge to throw up – not sure if it was the food or just the amount of soapy liquid I ingested this morning, but I do not feel good. The others had a lot more luck, finding a very well recommended sushi shop, before we meet up again and do a quick wander around the Government Gardens and head for the park closer to Base (the meeting point for the bus).
The park by Hot Rocks Base is full of thermal holes, but also has some free hot foot pools for people to enjoy. I don’t really have time though, because the bus is off to collect people from my hostel of choice and I need to get on unless I want to lug my stuff halfway over town.
Rather than Base, I’m staying at the independent Crash Palace. It’s not only really cheap, but it comes with tons of free stuff. Free Wi-Fi, free hot tub, and on Friday, free spaghetti bolognaise. I end up in a 4 bed dorm for $22 a night. That’s crazy prices!
Part of me is a little sad to be leaving my group. I really like Maverick and the group we’re in. However, these doubts immediately vanish when I meet my roommate Morgan…who happens to have a One Piece mobile cover to match my One Piece t-shirt. We end up swapping a few anime episodes and wandering round town before I break away to have a better look at the Government Gardens.
This is a huge area that includes Rotorua Lake, the Museum, the Blue Pools and several small parks. The Museum is a beautiful being, that I think started out life as a hospital or something similar before getting refurbished. It’s $20 to go in though, so just admire the building from the outside before going to walk around the lake. There are hundreds or gulls and several dozen swans, and without the rain, it’s actually a nice walk. It’s only when the sun heads down that I have to head back because of the chill, and stay inside until about 6pm for the Midnight Markets.
This is a small market that’s held in Rotorua every Thursday, and is predominately food with a handful of jewellery or independent business. The jewellery is actually really nice, but I already have enough that I don’t wear while travelling
Not sure what I’ll do tomorrow. I know the other girls who also stayed in Rotorua are going white water rafting, but I can’t afford that. Will probably walk around the gardens again, and probably invest in a winter coat because it’s getting really cold and I might really need one soon.