Feeling much more rested today after traveling yesterday, we went to the front desk to ask for a map and some tips on things to visit in the area. We decided to see the things within walking distance today since we had been on a plane and in a car so much the past 24 hours. Our first stop of course was to find some breakfast. We walked to a little local cafe and ordered a couple of bagels which was their specialty…we noticed right away the crazy prices…$10 for a bagel with tomato, cream cheese and avocado?? Is all of New Zealand going to be like this or did we just happen to pick a very over priced cafe? We sat and had our nothing special but very expensive bagels with a cup of coffee as we looked through the pamphlets our hotel had just given us.
After breakfast, we walked through some of the shops and various streets getting lost only once. But it was a good thing we walked in the wrong direction because we ran right into Pandora. My charm bracelet is getting full…as we visit each country, I continue to pick a charm to represent our visit…I picked a rugby ball since we are in New Zealand for a Rugby World Cup game.
We made our way in the right direction to the Rotorua Museum. It was housed in one of the oldest buildings in town. We bought our tickets and started our history lessons. The city of Rotorua is known for its geological location, the city itself is literally sitting inside an active crater. The area has many natural hot springs and the air has a consistent scent of sulfur. As you walk around, you can actually see smoke rising from the earth.
The museum building itself was a geothermal spa back in 1908 which used the natural hot springs to cure various ailments. They showed us a short film on the history of the land and the volcano that killed over 150 people in 1886. We also walked through the basement which showed all the piping they had networked into the building and into the baths. There were a couple old bathtubs and shower where people once sat in mud.
Upstairs was an additional room with more of an art display and a focus on the history of New Zealand Rugby…and its history with the indigenous tribal people long ago. The museum was closing so we made one last stop which was the roof of the building. Once we got to the top, the view showed us a bay of water which was literally a creamy white from such a high amount of sulfur. From here, we could see the entire rim of the crater sitting on a volcano…we were inside looking up at the top. If this volcano erupts, we’re definitely in trouble!
Once out of the museum, we walked back through the garden area and admired the beautiful flowers. We walked over to the Polynesian Spa which was built around hot water springs. They had a big store full of lotions and soaps and other beauty products made with the natural minerals found in the area. It also has numerous hot spring pools. They sell tickets to either rent a private hot spring pool for a couple of hours or an all day pass to the multiple hot springs of different temperatures. We toured the facility admiring how the pools weren’t like others we’ve seen…where it’s a manmade pool with hot spring water, instead it was more of a natural rocky structure. We spent some time shopping in the store full of goodies. We bought some mud soap and lotions made with a honey only found in New Zealand and known to have several benefits to the skin called Manuka.
We made our way back to the hotel and found a little wine store in town. We bought a couple of bottles of local wine and ordered take-out from a well-known Indian restaurant. We noticed the majority of restaurants in the area had a heavy asian and Indian influence. We sat for a beer at one of the local bars while our food cooked and then ate dinner watching anther rugby match in our room. Tomorrow we are going to explore one of the geothermal parks.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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One Reply to “Day 231 of 400: Rotorua – New Zealand”
hey gif, if you 2 end up heading across the water to Australia, then you should get in touch with Dylan Kemna because his fiance (Kim) grew up there and could give you the best details about where to travel to, what to see, where to stay and local eats for your trip. let me know if you want his email.