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Tori’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 10 Jun 2006

Location: Rotorua, New Zealand

MapOur flight left Lima at midnight, and arrived into Buenos Aires quite early in the morning. I wasn't feeling too good, so Kim & I hung out in the airport for a while and got our boarding passes for the evening flight to Auckland. Eventually, when I was feeling up to it, we left the airport and headed into town to explore a little - after all our flight to Auckland wasn't leaving until midnight...
I still wasn't up to much, but during our whistlestop day tour, I did manage to show Kim a bit of Buenos Aires that I thought was worth visiting in just one day. We started out with a wander up Florida Street to look at all the shops, and get a few last minute souvenirs. At the end of Florida, we made our way to Plaza de Mayo, where I crashed on a bench and left Kim to wander around and enjoy the scenery. From there we bypassed the days protest march and made our way to a little cafe for lunch - I remembered having awesome empanadas there and though that it would be a good place to eat.
By the time we had devoured the empanadas, it was almost 3pm, so we had to make a choice between Recoleta or La Boca. We chose Recoleta, and found the bus that would hopefully take us there. I had a few nervous moments, thinking that we were on the wrong bus, or that I had missed the stop, but we eventually found our way. Once again, I just found the nearest convenient park bench, and plonked myself down there while Kim looked around... It's becoming a bit of a theme isn't it!!
Finally, before heading back to the airport, we decided to have one last nice meal... The challenge was finding a restaurant that was open at 7pm in Buenos Aires - where you're an absolute freak if you go out and eat any earlier than 9pm. We succeeded in finding a restaurant, which was slightly swish, however not too expensive - and most important of all, open, so we shovelled some food down, and then raced off to the airport to wait for the departure of another long flight.
Buenos Aires airport is by no means entertaining, and it was a testament to our spirit that we managed to kill the time quite actively! The Aerolineas plane taking us on the trip back across the Pacific hardly seemed likely to get off the runway - we rattled and bumped along until the runway must have surely run out, before making a final shudder and lifting off into the air... I distinctly remember a similar feeling in Sydney on my departure. Perhaps it's time they upgraded their planes!
After a rather uneventful flight, we arrived in Auckland at 4am, and after clearing immigration and customs (they don't even stamp your passport here :-( ), and the delay before the first shuttle left gave us time to organise our transport to Rotorua.
So, after a rather short and comfy four hours on the bus, we were in smelly Rotorua, and in no time at all, the nice girl from the hostel came to collect us and deliver us almost to the door of our room. We were just about breaking our ncks to get inside and take a long, hot shower each!
After scrubbing up all fresh and clean, we set off with Kim's friend Kally to have a look at the parks and lakes around Rotorua. We first visited the public park, where at regualr intervals, there are small holes or ponds spewing out thick sulphuric steam... Following that, Kally drove us out to see the Blue and Green lakes, and then another big lake whose name escapes me completely! After a quick walk in the brisk afternoon air, we returned to the hostel to do some much needed laundry before we set off for dinner.
Kally took us to the Fat Dog Cafe - one she remembered from her last visit to Rottenrua! We were happy, it was a fantastic cafe, and I've never seen servings quite so huge in my life! Not only were the servings huge, but the food was good, and the cafe had a fabulous atmosphere. Another doggy named cafe that we think is awesome, and just to confirm that, we visited at least 3 more times over the next two days!
Friday morning, after a bit of a sleep in, and a late breakfast, we headed off to Te Puia, a thermal wonderland!!! A tourist park full of pools of bubbling mud, steaming waters, and a couple of spouting geysers - oh, and I guess I shouldn't forget the token Cultural show, which of course included the chunky Maori doing the Haka!!! It was quite good - the whole park I mean... The cultural show wasn't at all bad, and the big geyser was really quite impressive. It took quite some time to work it's way up to spouting, but once it did, it maintained the height and intensity of it's water stream for quite some time. More than enough time in fact, for us to reel off way too many photos!!!
After visiting the thermal park, we made our way into town to do over the souvenir stores and get those last minute (albeit unnecessary) souvenirs... I just can't resist buying cute stuff for the kids!!! However, all that tough shopping brought on a headache, and I ended up in bed once again... Lucky me...NOT!
Saturday morning dawned fresh and clear, and after one last visit to the Fat Dog, Kim & I farewelled Kally, as well as Kim's other friends Jacqui & John, and we set off to book a bus journey back to Auckland for the afternoon.
The bus journey was really quite scenic - on the way down, a thick fog had been settled right across the fields, but on the return journey, those fields were revealed to be lush, rolling & very green, and complete with grazing livestock scattered throughout.
We arrived in Auckland at around 6pm, and after a bit of negotiating with the friendly concierge at the Sky City hotel, we arranged to leave our luggage in their store room, while we killed time until our 3am shuttle to the airport.
We're becoming quite expert at using up every minute of our time. This is how it's done... We stashed our bags, booked our shuttle, went for a walk down to the Quay, came back and found a nice Turkish restaurant for dinner, went and checked out the cinema, bought a ticket for a film, wandered around the Borders bookstore for an hour, went to see a really crappy movie, had a coffee and collected our bags, and got onto the airport shuttle!