16 July 2014

Rotorua, Day 1

When you fly to New Zealand, you cross the international date line and land in the future. We left home early Monday morning, and arrived in Auckland late Tuesday night. We checked into a "refurbished" airport hotel with some cleanliness issues. As we drifted to sleep, we wondered if the various hairs coating the black bedspreads were all human, and whether knowledge of their species of origin would make us feel better or worse. We pushed the bedspreads away, turned up the room's heater (a glorified hair dryer), and shivered ourselves to sleep. 

We woke up on Tuesday morning to sunshine, and left Traveller's International Airport Hotel Auckland (so, so eagerly) for our first destination: Rotorua. We drove through the beautiful NZ countryside, with periodic stops to take pictures of Daniel taking pictures.

Daniel has proven to be an excellent traveler. He was very cheerful on the long flight, and eagerly explored the Honolulu airport. He bought a souvenir rice paddle, which in typical Daniel fashion, he has carried with him everywhere since. He has endless enthusiasm for the lush New Zealand landscape, for Maori culture, and for the crazy geothermal activity that makes Rotorua a popular destination.

Depending on when you pull into town and which way the winds blow, you'll be greeted by either a faint whiff of sulfur or a noxious punch. Our lodging in Rotorua, the Sport of Kings Motel, is powered entirely by geothermal energy. The owner gave us a tour when we arrived, and showed us the remarkably warm pool outside and hot tub in our room that require nothing more than geothermal energy to maintain their temperatures. 

After we settled in, we visited downtown Rotorua, where we walked along the lake and checked out various pools of boiling mud. 

Back at the Sport of Kings, Daniel explored NZ television offerings, Steve soaked in the hot tub, and Melissa savored the perfectly clean sheets. Tomorrow: visits to a Kiwi sanctuary and a Maori cultural show.

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