Wednesday, January 07, 2009


View from the top of the gondola in Rotorua.
WHEW! that's the first thing that comes to mind following all of the activity we packed into our four day road trip to Rotorua with O'vive and Orca III.
Not the van we travelled in but a funky one that's for sure!
Kiwi fruit growing at the agrodome in Rotorua.

Beautiful lavender fields near Lake Rotoiti.

We rang in the New Year all together with a delicious gourmet dinner of salmon, salad, lamb, kumara (sweet potato) and green beans with Death By Chocolate for dessert...mmm! The kids feasted on Pizza and Ice cream. At midnight, we enjoyed a fireworks display launched from the top of the Sky Tower and we had a fantastic view.

We rented a house near Lake Rotoma that was big enough for all three families, there was even one room with 7 beds/bunk beds that was perfect for all of the kids. Everyone had a fun time as the grand finale of our time together. Orca III is heading out towards Coromandel, O'vive is currently touring the South Island before they ship the boat home at the end of January and we're in Auckland until Laura travels home on the weekend then I think we'll be heading North to Whangarei.

Welcome to our house in Rotoma!

Alec, Emilie and Jenny just after their kayak trip at the lake. That's our car on the right.

Cozy quarters!

Getting the cake ready for Jay's BD.

Happy Birthday Jay! Cheesecake...mmm

Jocelyn with Grandma in the kitchen.

Our first stop on this great adventure was the Agrodome in Rotorua where we toured an organic farm where we saw all kinds of sheep, emu, ostrich, pigs, deer and even a reindeer whose antlers we got to touch - very soft velvet.

Jenny loved feeding the sheep.


All of the kids loved the sheep

Who knew there were so many different varieties!


Happy goats...

...and a happy sheep!

We got to see a demonstration of an old fashioned combing machine that takes the raw wool and combs it into a product ready to spin. The store had wide selection of beautiful yarns. The Merino sheep is the big curly horned sheep that lives in the high mountains in the South Island. There are few places in the world where this sheep can live and their wool is fine, silky and soft and is used to make beautiful hats, scarves, gloves and more.

Spinning the wool

Beautiful yarn

Next, we visited Paradise Valley, a gorgeous nature reserve where the kids got to pet the wallabies (mini kangaroo like creatures) and we got to see the trout streams and black eels along with the beautiful New Zealand vegetation.

Wallabies - mama with her nursing baby

Black swan
Ancient spring water.

Delicious sweet water!
The following morning, it was off to Rotorua to ride the luge! This was such a fun activity where we rode a gondola up the mountain (actually a large hill) then rode small three wheeled plastic toboggans down a paved track then rode the chairlift back to the top to do it all over again! Very fun!
Everyone is ready for some luge fun.
There go Alec and Jocelyn down the intermediate track.

Grandma presented all of the luge participants with a certificate.
And as if that were not enough excitement for one day, we went white water rafting in the afternoon. Jay and I have both done this on the Thompson river, but it was a first for the girls and it was such an exciting ride but it went by much too fast for our liking, we could have done it all day! We rafted the Kaituna river which, has Tutea falls, a 7 meter drop that we're told is the highest commercially rafted falls in the world.
One of the smaller waterfalls we went over.

This was the big drop!
Raft surfing at the end of our trip.
Our crazy rafting guide Lee.
We were all very tired after this long and adventurous day.
While we were rafting (no grandma didn't come with us) Laura went next door to the Hells Gate Spa where she wandered their geothermal reserve and enjoyed a hot mud soak followed by a mineral soak and a massage. She had a wonderful relaxing time, quite the opposite of the rafting experience.

It's funny, Jay, Jenny and I haven't slept in a bed other than on the boat for 18 months and for Jocelyn it's been 9 months. It was strange, you would think it would be a luxurious treat to have more space and to be in a still bed with no boat noises, but actually none of us slept very well. In fact, we all had a fabulous sleep once we returned to the familiar motion and noises of the boat.

Day three of our roadtrip started with us driving to the Wai-0-tapo geothermal area where we wandered about the eerie landscape and bubbling pools of sulphuric water and hot mud. It was a feeling of a cross between otherworldy and post apocolyptic, very strange indeed.

Lady Knox geyser which is encouraged to erupt at 10:30 every day.

Boiling mud

Wierd algae

Marg at the edge of Champagne lake - like a steambath!

Strange crystal formation on the edge of Champagne lake.

Devils bath
Zorbing was the next great adventure! The adults watched as the kids climbed inside a clear plastic sphere to which water and soap was added. The ball was pushed down a hill for the ride of a lifetime, somewhat like a cross between a waterslide and a roller coaster. What a riot for both the kids and the parents.
Zorbs at the gate, ready to roll!

Hard to tell who it is, but one of our kids is in there!

Such sweetie pies!

Jenny & Emilie emerge after their first ride.
Wow! that was soooo fun!

New Zealand is rich with Maori culture, in fact I'm continually amazed at the knowledge and respect the Kiwi's have of their heritage. Throughout the country you can see examples of Maori carvings, this one was in the visitors centre in Rotorua.
We've had such a fun time cruising with our friends from O'vive and Orca III and this was such a fun time for us all to commemorate our time together. We will miss our cruising buddies as we go our separate ways. We will remember you forever!


Calvin said...

Hi Guys,

Great photos. It was a National Geographic tour with running commentary. "Thanks Margaret"

We are still up to our elbows in snow and it is with even greater envy that we review the updates. It looks like you are all having way too much fun and you all look healthy and happy. Wishing you a Happy New Year and a continued safe and exciting trip.

Love Ya,

(Uncle) Cal, (Aunty Sandra), Calsie & Braeden

Marlene Sherwin said...

did you get to see the dogs climb on the sheeps back? quite the show wasn't it. Bill and I did the luge rides too We didn't do the hamster ball ride (zorbing) It looked like fun. We found the boiling mud facinating too. A great area with so many things to do. Say hi to Laura forus. Vancouver has had the worst winter in a long time