A visit to “Smellytown”

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

That’s the name Ava gave to the town of Rotorua, about two hours south of Auckland. Rotorua is a huge tourist trap, but it offers a few things that you won’t find in other New Zealand towns: Maori tribe experiences and the shows that go along with them…and a huge assortment of geothermal attractions like geysers, boiling mud pools and more. We made a stop to one of those places, Te Puia, and viewed these crazy churning pools from just a few feet away. We were in time to see the main geyser go off as well…and Kelly got some great shots that I’ll publish as soon as I can. 
It was another hour of driving from Rotorua to Taupo, where we are spending the night tonight, hoping to do a catamaran cruise of Lake Taupo in the morning, weather depending. Looks good right now.
Speaking of driving, I seem to be doing OK with the whole driving-on-the-left thing. It was really crazy in Auckland, where the city streets were five lanes wide, and I had to make turns to get onto the highway. The high-speed lane on the highway is on the right…opposite of everything we know to be the “right way!” Even the controls in the car work totally the opposite…like holding a mirror up to your car as you drive. Speeds are in kilometers and max speed in most places is 100 km per hour, or about 60 mph.
We had dinner at a local Millenium Resort which is an extremely family-friendly environment, so we assumed dinner would suck…but it actually wasn’t bad at all. Kelly had a seafood shishkebob and I has a surf and turf with beef and shrimp. Ava downed two hotdogs without hesitation.

Last night, the dinner at the French Cafe was…interesting. The food was very good and extremely creative. The winner of the evening for both Kelly and me was a chicken liver parfait that was out of this world. Some of the other dishes were inspired but not mindblowing in the taste department. And they had nothing to offer Ava, so she wound up getting an order of Waygu beef (that’s Kobe to you and me) that she didn’t eat. Instead, she passed out on us because she had refused to nap in the afternoon, and just slept quietly through our whole meal, with the exception of the one time she rolled off the cushion she was on and landed with a thud on the floor under the table…did not wake up! We picked her up, put her back on the cushion, and finished our meal. It was kind of a bizarre evening, a little disappointing in the food, and heavily influenced by our lack of sleep…still not having caught up with the jet lag. The one highlight of the evening was our server, Paula, who gave us great info on where to go on our trip. She even has a friend that works at the George Hotel in Christchurch, where we will be staying on New Year’s Eve.


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