When I got back from Hobbiton, I grabbed lunch – being adventurous, I went into a Korean restaurant – and the menu was mostly in Korean, with some minimal translation – so I ordered a pork dish – which ended up being a “cook at your own table” pork dish, which was really cool – it came with 6 different sides (kimchi, cucumbers, eggplant, etc) – It was quite delightful, and I was glad to have taken the chance.
After lunch, I decided I would take a wander through the Government Gardens and Heritage Trail in Rotorua, then make the trek around the Sulfur Lake Path to check out some thermal activity.
The walk started out cloudy, but quite nice.
I stumbled upon the Sculpture Trail – neat art – cool descriptions. I tried to find the program online, and failed, but there is a pdf of the descriptions below the collage for those of you that like to look at art work and their descriptions.
After finishing the trail I checked out flowers, buildings and thermal pools:
As I continued around I found a lovely trail beside the lake, and found more beautiful scenery on the lake, until, those clouds broke open, and I mean, wide open. I was already wet by the time i could get my rain jacket on, and I was a good 20 minute walk from the gardens at that point. I was DRENCHED. I was afraid that my poor shoes might never recover – but after some baking soda and sunshine, they do seem fine, which is good when you are living on 4 pair of shoes for 6 months, by the way!
I made the most of the wet walk, enjoying the secluded path and thermal activity – I was already soaked, so why rush back now?
When I got back to the hostel, I decided that I would soak in the hot tub at the hostel – after all – I was already drenched, right?
So I changed into my swimsuit and enjoyed the spa for a bit before showering and heading to bed.
The next morning I had a pretty flexible schedule, so I looked on this Book Me site for something to do, as it was dreadfully dreary and rainy, so outside activities had very little appeal.
There was a Gondola Ride, Lunch and wine tasting that had a bit of appeal, so I decided to take advantage of it.
I looked up the Rotorua bus system, and figured out when and where I needed to catch a bus to across town, then checked out of the Hostel, and they graciously agreed to let me store my bag for the day, since I was taking the overnight bus at 11:00 PM back to Wellington. I just had to come back by 7 to get my bag.
I arrived at the Skyview Gondola, and pretty much had the run of the place – the Luge and BMX track and other outdoor activities were closed, so there were not many people hanging out up top – but the views were gorgeous, even in the rain.
I had lunch, explored the stores (mostly tourist-y – but check out the crazy cool Jelly Belly “artwork”), then had a tasting of wine from the different regions of New Zealand.
After that, I went back to the Hostel and hung out in the lounge for a bit. I got my bag at about 6:00, and because I had to have internet for a conference call at 7:00, and no longer had Wi-fi at the Hostel, went to the McDonald’s (or Macca’s) to connect and work while I waited for the late bus, because there was not a place to hang out at the bus stop.
While at McDonald’s I connected with the NZ Microsoft Innovative Educator Network’s monthly conference call – and had a chance to introduce myself and tell them about my inquiry project. It was a great call – and it was so nice to connect with them all – and they have given me some great places to visit and schools to see.
Once the call was complete I still had a few hours, so I continued to work on stuff until I thought it was time to head to the bus.
The bus stop was well lit, but I was glad there was another lady waiting there with me that time of night, a women who had been visiting her children in Auckland and was headed home to Wellington. Pretty soon we were joined by another girl, a sweet younger girl from Switzerland. The three of us sat on the bench and talked about mostly New Zealand and our respective journeys, and it was nice to have company – as we talked we came to realize that the older woman was not on our bus, but a later bus to Wellington – due to an issue with her bus company, they dropped her off of one bus, but her second bus was significantly delayed, and she was going to be waiting until at least 1:00. . .by herself. . . in the dark, and she was already pretty cold and bundled in her blankets. The Swiss girl immediately said no, no no – we are putting you on the bus with us. It took some convincing, but we were able to get her to give us her whole name, and we booked the ticket for her to be on the bus with us. It was such a small gesture, but it warmed my heart that 3 women, traveling alone, from 3 different continents shared that brief bond, and I felt so much better knowing she was safely at her destination – not sitting at the bus station.
After that the night bus was uneventful – I slept on and off, and we arrived in Wellington at 6:30, at which point I was not feeling motivated to walk home, or even do the bus thing to Aro Valley, so i got an Uber, went home, and crashed for a few hours before I went to a special event at Te Papa – which I will tell you about later!