Well, I had meant to write a post about my next journey about six months ago. I’m sure the burning question on your eager minds is something along the lines of:
“Why, dear wayfarer, hast thou withheld thy explosive travel blogging talents from the world for a thousand eternities? Thou hath forsaken me! FORSAKEN. MEEEEEEE.”
Behold my answer – it lies within the riddle below!
General life distractions
Oops. I was never too gifted in the art of riddling. Now you know!
So..I had been talking to my pal Chris who I’d met during my time living in Scotland, since he was coming to New Zealand for a working holiday as well, in a couple of weeks. I had been checking adverts on noticeboards to see if there would be any places for which I could work in exchange for accommodation in a central location where we could meet up and maybe do some traveling together. I found a hostel in Rotorua that was really well reviewed, had a fantastic name (my basis of judgment for worthiness of where I rest my weary head at night), Funky Green Voyager - and they just happened to be looking for a cleaner at the exact time I was looking to leave Whitianga. I emailed Anja & Gerard (the absolutely awesome owners), and they were happy to take me on the very next day!
Nick, a ‘murican (bald eagles and sheeit, yeah?) from St. Louis checked me in to my room. I was sad that he didn’t have a super strong southern accent and also that he didn’t say y’all nearly often enough like a true American ought to. I was quick to be introduced to the rest of the Funky Crew hanging out in the lounge – Kyle, a fellow Canadian, who happily introduced himself by performing the legendary ‘Canadian Secret Handshake’, his German girlfriend Astrid, and my fellow roommate Andrea from Bavaria. There were some cool long-termers – Marky Mark from England, and Major Tom ‘ginger leprechaun’ from Ireland. Everyone got along super well, and it was a matter of maybe a week before I felt like this was actually becoming my wee hostel family. Later on, Nick’s brother Jack joined the Funky crew, further awesomeifying the awesome awesomeness. Eventually Jack went on travelling and was replaced by my most favourite taquito enchilada, Karen from Mexico.
I had been at the Funky Green for around a week and a bit, when my Scotsman friends Chris and Sam (Samwise) came to visit me. We went to Hobbiton, the filming location for The Shire in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy – near Matamata. We had to return Samwise to the land of his people.
We also went some 80km out of the way to visit Paeroa. What could possibly be worth a journey that far out of one’s way, you ask?
Ask, and you shall receive:
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re welcome. For those who are unaware, L&P is a popular kiwi soda. That was the most life-changing, amazing, dramatic and incredible travel experience of my life! Simply a magical time. Highly recommended for the niche demographic of giant roadside attraction aficionados.
My ‘two week’ stint at the Funky Green had turned into three weeks, four weeks..yeah, screw it – over three months. There were countless days and nights of kicking back, meeting interesting passing travelers and their stories, hanging out, redwood forest hikes, and pretty much just enjoying each others company.
I could write so much more of my time here, but how can one possibly sum up such a huge chunk of time in one blog post? One might suggest perhaps posting a series of shorter blogs and writing about it closer to the time of being there. Yeah, nah! Too logical for this crazy cat. I do, however, want to shout out to all of the amazing, wonderful people I met here.
Gerard & Anja (and their adorable kids Don and Lola), Astrid, Kyle, Andrea, Karen, Nick, Jack, Tom, Mark – it was such a pleasure to be able to spend my months in Rotorua with you guys. It wouldn’t have been my first New Zealand home without you! Go Gang Green (thanks Kyle)!
Also, to all the great folks I met who were passing through – it was a pleasure to have the chance to meet you guys!
My Top 5 recommended must-dos for the overcommercialism-conscious (read:budget) traveller in Rotorua:
1. Ohinemutu Maori Village (on the lakefront)
2. Redwood forest – I personally recommend the yellow track which offers views over the city and, if you’re lucky with your timing, a pretty impressive geyser eruption from a thermal park.
3. Saturday food/arts/crafts markets on the lakefront and Kuirau Park
4. Thursday night market on Tutanekai Street. Food, entertainment and other little crafty stalls! Pay a wee visit to Mistress of Cakes – best brownies ever!
4. Rotorua Arts Village, if only to appreciate that they knitted a sweater for a tree.
5. I never had the opportunity to visit it – but have heard fantastic things about a natural spring. It’s called hot and cold river and it’s exactly as it sounds! Worth a try if you’re keen on a free thermal experience. Also, check out Kuirau Park any other day – there are some smelly bubbling mud pools to check out which, if you had forgotten before, will be an instant reminder that there’s a lot of thermal activity going on beneath your feet.
If you have a few dollars to spend, there are plenty of budget activities to satisfy – parasailing, kayaking, cycling, even zorbing (roll down a hill in a human-size hamster ball). Check the isite (tourist information) for more ideas!