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New Zealand Vacation

By Barbara K. Almy

(1233-4668-1323)

Following is the continuation from Newsletter No. 116 (October 2003) of the journal that Barbara wrote on her New Zealand vacation in 2000. (See introduction in Newsletter No. 114.)

Thursday, April 6, 2000 (cont.)

Further on were stingrays and sharks. Some were quite large of both species. Towards the end there was a huge ray. It was so old it had age spots on its normally white underbelly. The tour finished going through the gift shop (naturally) and since I was not sure if I got any good pictures of the penguins underwater, I bought a postcard. Mom and I both had wanted to take a picture looking back across the bay at Auckland and the Sky Tower. Again, I should have told the others to go on in when we first arrived and taken a picture, when it was semi clear. It was a busy road and Mom and I dashed across it. While we were setting up our shots, her camera case got away from her (it was really windy) and blew down the embankment.

With Don still driving, we headed south towards Rotorua. We had to stop for our first fill-up. It cost $56 (NZ.) While filling up, Mom went over to Mc Donald's and got milkshakes for Dad, Lorraine and herself and a burger for Don. About 14:00 I was somewhat hungry so was going to make a sandwich of bread, cheese and the sliced ham. The ham looked funny so I ended up with just bread and cheese. We stopped for coffee about 10 miles before Hamilton and I took over driving. Instead of four way stops or unmarked intersections, they have what I call "roundie-rounds." I scared folks a couple of times by misjudging and not "giving way" to the vehicle on my right and scooting past. We did pretty well following the road signs to Rotorua, but when we got there we weren't sure where to go. We definitely went the wrong direction first. There was only one other way to go. None of us were sure of the address, but Lorraine remembered the street name, which we were on. I thought the street address was 272 - Don 217. We had only one way to go and the numbers were getting bigger. All of a sudden at about the 1200 block, Mom said, "Is that it?" I don't know where the numbering system ended, but I was right that the address was 272! I told Don never to question a UPS driver!

It took us a while to get checked in to Rydges because again they assumed Dad was the organizer and that we all wanted to be close together. I had asked for a single smoking room, a double non-smoking handicapped room and a double non-smoking room. They had us all in smoking rooms. I also wanted to amend it to two handicapped rooms. Again, after about hour we got checked in. We regrouped in Mom & Dad's room to plot our doings.

We had dinner in the hotel at The Atrium. Don ordered an appetizer of spicy potatoes and Kumara (yam.) Don had the special of turkey. Dad; the chicken, Mom; a three-seafood selection (the chef's creation of the day,) Lorraine; the lamb and I had a Caesar salad with too many whole anchovies. All thought it was good. Dad and Don in particular. We plan to meet in the lobby at 08:00 and go to McDonald's for breakfast. We want to see the Maori Arts & Cultural Centre, which includes a dance show at 12:15. Lorraine wants to go to the Polynesian Spa. And Mom wants to go on the Skyride. I figure after the Cultural Centre the four of them can do the tram and I'll wander around town. There was a bar as we came into town called "Wild Willy's Bar." A Kodak moment!

Friday, April 7, 2000

The hotel alarm went off at 06:00. I hadn't set it. I wrote a postcard to Tina. I wanted to do laundry, but it doesn't open 'til 0800. About 07:30 Mom called and said that the desk said it was OK. Laundry service is free, but the soap packet is $2. I met with Don & Lorraine at 08:00 and we went to Mom & Dad's room. We decided to go to the Travel Information Centre to see about booking a Hangi Feast and Cultural Performance. We did, for $55 (NZ) pp. A bus will pick us up at 18:00. I then drove them out to the "Skyline Skyride" and went back to the hotel and collected my wet laundry, hung it up and went down and got Mom's second load of laundry, their pills, camera, shades and water bottle.

I started their wash (with my jacket) and went back to fetch them. We then headed to the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve and watched another enactment of the Maori Warrior Challenge. This one was more thoroughly explained. The performance was great and very professional. Without my flash I think that the pictures I took will be too dark.

We then went through the Kiwi house. Because they are nocturnal birds, we were asked to be quiet and not to take pictures. We then went down and saw the boiling mud pool and "The Lady Knox Geyser." I don't know the origin of the name. To continue on I would have had to walk through the spray of the geyser with my camera. So I went back to the gift shop area. Besides, my feet hurt. The others went on and said I didn't miss anything. I bought a T-shirt for $24.95 (NZ) and a bar of mud soap for Haidi, Mom's sister.

We got back to the hotel about 15:00. Don & Lorraine are going to the Polynesian Spa. I've written a couple of postcards. At 18:00 we were picked up and driven to Lake Rotoiti for the Hangai. The bus was overly drafty. It was like a window was open. It was almost dark when we got to the Rakeiao Marae. Our guide, John went through the same spiel as we had heard earlier in the day. About the only difference was that when we entered the performance area they had the men sit on the left and the women on the right until the welcome ceremony was over, then John said we were free to move and take pictures. So then Mom, Lorraine and I moved to the seats in front of Dad and Don. The acting chief was a young cutie patootie. I figured he is 14 or 15. The family consisted of four men and two women. They all sang beautifully and obviously enjoyed themselves. They demonstrated an exercise to improve hand-to-eye coordination, which they have turned into a "dance." They kneel facing each other with a baton in each hand, then tap them on the floor, then together, toss the right one to their partner, tap, together, toss the left one, tap, together and then toss both to their partner. The idea is not to drop them. The two women each pick two people to go up on stage to be taught how to do it. Anna pointed to me!! It wasn't that easy. Mom said my partner and I caught on lots quicker and better than the other two. At the end of the performance Anna introduced everyone. The only names I caught were hers, John's and the cutie's name was Walter.

We then went over to the dining area for the feast which included coleslaw, peas, corn, Kumara, pumpkin, potatoes, lamb, chicken, pork, bread, stuffing and gravy. Then a bread pudding, canned peaches, a warm custard dressing and whipped cream. The meal is cooked in a pit where a fire is started, then lava rocks are placed on top, then the meats, etc. Then it's all covered with a wet cloth and covered with sand to trap the smoke and act as a pressure cooker. John said it only takes about 1 hours. This is only done for special occasions and large gatherings. During dinner I asked John how old Walter is. He said "Oh, the imp? 17." After dinner John gave a Maori goodbye speech and then he asked us to hold hands and do a prayer/chant followed by a short prayer. We got back to the hotel about 21:15.

Saturday, April 8, 2000

I took my bag to the concierge to hold while we eat and go to the Agrodome for the sheep show. We went to McDonald's. We parked downtown and I took a picture of Wild Willy's Bar and bought a lighter for Bill for $2.50 (NZ). We went out to the Agrodome and watched the show with an emcee telling about the nineteen main varieties of NZ sheep and what each is bred for; wool, fleexe, food, etc. Then a demonstration of sheep shearing. A shearer is paid 90 cents per sheep and a good one can do about 300 sheep in 9 hours.

He then brought a cow out and demonstrated milking and called for volunteers to try. Two young Korean girls tried and got a squirt, then a young boy and two older men. Both men employed the two-hand method and did quite well. All got certificates of "An Udder Experience!" The emcee then demonstrated the sheep herding dogs. They jumped onto the sheep's backs. They call that process "backing." Then he asked for five women. He gave them each a baby bottle. They all looked stupefied until a door was operned and five lambs came running out and started sucking on the bottles! The show finished outside, with another herding demonstration with one dog and four sheep.

(To be continued.)


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