North Island New Zealand: Rotarua

THIS is why you take the road less traveled! What a beautiful waterfall!

We made it to Rotarua at 11:30AM and had plans to head to the iSite for “zorbing” and Maori info. We got there and realized that the Maori show that we wanted to go to included dinner, but we had just bought groceries and didn’t want them to go to waste. So, that was out. Then, the zorbing was $70/each and you basically went down a straight hill... that was out, too.

As if the winding roads weren't bad enough... we had to worry about "roaming livestock," too!!

Instead, we decided to go to a different Maori village that you could walk around without a tour guide. We got to see the natural hot springs all around us and I was happy to get some mud masks in the actual city that the mud comes from! But before we went there, we scouted out our sleeping situation. I heard about a cheap backpackers spot that had room for campervans. There was also a bar next door. Score!

This is where we had to make a tough call; stay in Rotarua overnight and go to Auckland the next day or drive through the night to Bay of Islands and spend a few hours there before driving to Auckland that afternoon. We ultimately decided to stay in Rotarua and continue our “don’t be rushed” journey through the north island.

I bought Mark a coin for his birthday. He's clearly a happy camper.... literally.

We walked around shopping for a bit and, finally, mailed our postcards. Then, we realized one of my shoes was missing. It had fallen out of the back of the campervan at some point and I was pretty disappointed. We backtracked to see if we could find it with no luck. I could only think that it must be at the backpackers place and it would be there (or not) when we went back for the night.

Something funny happened soon after I gave up the search -  I noticed it was stuck between the door and the side mirror. Someone had picked it up and stuck it there and we just hadn’t noticed. Awesome!!

We hadn't actually experienced a hot spring for ourselves and we really wanted to try! The two of us found a park in our guidebook that said there were free springs that you could dip your feet in. It was easy enough to find the park, but we never found where you could put your feet in. It was a bummer, but we did manage to see the most amazing sunset. It was like the sky was on fire!!

Embracing the Maori culture after our big win!

Later in the evening, we had dinner in the campervan and then were off to the bar! There weren’t many people there, but it was trivia night so we participated. We won! They ended up giving us an open tab for food and drinks for the rest of the night.

It was closing in on midnight and I wanted to give Mark a birthday surprise. So, the bartender whipped up some nasty shots that she thought looked like cupcakes and he had to take them without using his hands. I thought he was going to kill me (or vomit, I’m not sure which was coming first…).

Talking about how we acted like old people, but we were okay with it. This came about when Mark asked for a metal detector for his birthday. haha!

We left a little drunk and a lot happy with plans to get up early again, which didn’t exactly happen. That was ok, though, because we were celebrating Mark’s 28th birthday!!!

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