2020 - SNZA - Day 14

Updated: May 23


There was no microwave in our room and so his morning we decided not to pay for the Hotel Breakfast at $25 each and instead go downmarket by having a good old McDonalds breakfast. This was only a short drive away. We bought enjoyed our McMuffins as a change but agreed that we wouldn’t want them everyday. The price was only a third of the cost of the Hotel Breakfast but we thought we might treat ourselves tomorrow to that.

We were heading out to visit Rainbow Springs which is the home of the National Kiwi Trust. They have recently hatched their 2000th egg and were visited by Harry & Meghan on their last visit. I wonder if they would have to pay if they ever went to go back. The admission fee was not cheap and even with our student discount still cost over $90 for both of us to enter including the Hatchery tour.

As we entered we got the feeling it wasn’t quite the professional slick organisation we had hoped for. It really didn’t know what it was. It had a few dilapidated aviaries, some tanks with a few reptiles, lots of pools fed by natural springs filled with trout and most bizarrely a water chute you would expect to find in Great Yarmouth. There did seem to be much building work and renovation underway so perhaps they have great plans but they do need to work out their identity.

What they should major on is the Kiwi work they do and that is where we headed first for our tour. The guide tried to be good but wasn’t really. However the subject matter was fascinating and the Kiwis themselves were adorable and so cute. Sadly we were not allowed to take any photos as they quite rightly do not trust everyone to turn off the flash on their cameras. The poor nocturnal Kiwis eyes could not take the strain. They are birds who have no interest in humans and just want to be left alone.

We first went to into area where the eggs are incubated. We saw 5 in a machine that are automatically rotated frequently as they would be in the wild by the male bird. The eggs are enormous for such a little bird and very heavy. We were allowed to hold an infertile one. In this area was a baby that was just 2 days old. He was born weighing 3½ pounds which is the equivalent of a human giving birth to a 3 year old child. Then 2 months later the female pushes out another egg. The baby was very cute and fluffy.

Then we went to a room where the babies are cared for until they are released back into the wild at around 3 weeks old. They are put back in the particular forest where the egg was gathered from. We were lucky enough to be able to watch one being taken out and weighed. They are only brought into the light and handled once each day. This little one was a naughty baby as he kept eating the soil rather than the food. This passes through him so he was underweight for his age and had not been able to be released yet. They were going to give him one more try before they removed the soil from his little pen so that he would just eat his food.

Finally we went into an even darker enclosure where we able to see (once our eyes had adjusted) a couple of adults scratching around in their enclosures. We should have asked but ended up assuming that they reverse night and day for these Kiwis to allow visitors to see them during the day and then they put the lights on so that they sleep at night.

The rest of the park was rather the disappointment as we suspected but we wandered around checking everything out. We considered making a donation of $2787 (why that amount?) and have a Kiwi named after Karen but thought better of it.

Now for the first time in this blog, we’ll be right back after this commercial break.

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Now back to the blog:

It was by now late morning so we thought we would head to downtown Rotorua for a look around. We found a parking space and fed the parking meter at a reasonable $1 per hour.

On the main drag, Karen almost squealed with delight when we came across a Starbucks. Needless to say we stopped for a couple of drinks. We haven’t been in many shops this trip so wandered into both Kathmandu and Macpac. In the small shopping mall we came across a Subway and both decided to have a Tuna Mayo sub for lunch. I always think they are very nice but full of air. It was then time to get back to car. On route though Karen wanted to have a look round a large shop called The Warehouse. We both ended up buying a cheap T shirt that will be useful when travelling.

We then moved the car to the lakefront which we had walked round previously admiring the Black Swans swimming. This time it was a building site seemingly undergoing a multi million redevelopment. We sat for a while slightly away from the construction work on a bench overlooking the Lake. For some reason I cannot recall we had a long discussion about the band Bucks Fizz, in particular trying to remember the fourth members name which eluded us at the time (Mike Nolan). I then couldn’t get the song ‘Land of Make Believe’ out of my head.

Back at the Hotel we changed and went back to the Geo Thermal Spa. This time Karen got in as well. We only managed 15 minutes before the heat got too much. We saw a notice saying that the average temperature in the Spa is 39c which is why is seemed a tad warm. After drying off in the sun we went back to the room to changed to go back out for Dinner.

Tonight we were meeting up again with my old work colleague Chris Clare (no relation) and his wife Shirley. They kindly picked us up from our Hotel and took us to Eat Street. This is a pedestrianised street lined with restaurants either side. It was lovely to see Chris & Shirley again. They have such a lovely lifestyle here in NZ. Its also interesting that all their holidays now are to what they call the Islands - Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa etc. They now have little or no family back in Norwich or the UK and have no desire to ever go back even to visit.

Chris is a New Zealander by birth but spent much of his career in Norwich. Shirley is a Norwich girl but now taken NZ citizenship. Their children also emigrated and live in Rotorua with their families and also love the lifestyle. I asked about living with the constant threat of earthquakes and they said they never think of it, apart from when houses locally suddenly have geysers or mud pools appear overnight in their gardens. Some of the buildings in Rotorua are still closed due to the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake which was centred over 1000km away.

We ended up eating in a craft beer pub on Eat Street where Karen & I both had Caesar salad for the third night running. This was a real good one as well. The meal was finished with an ice cream from some famous ice cream shop on the corner of the street. Karen had Blackberry & Blackcurrant real fruit ice cream which she loved. Chris then drove us around for a bit showing us some of the sites and then back to the Hotel. It was sad to see them go but it had been a lovely catch up.

Today had been a really good day again. I have to confess I am falling for NZ again. I have tried to resist but its futile. There is something about the place, not sure if its the weather, the people, the sights or whatever. I don’t want to live here but and I cannot believe I am saying this after how I felt about travelling all this way again, but I do want to come back. We might leave it a few years though. It’s just such a long way. Karen said it would be lovely if we all came on a trip but I had to point out that without even thinking of the cost it was most unlikely as the boys and Ellie have the little matter of jobs to think about. Although I am looking forward to the rest of the trip but also looking forward to getting home.


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