Lsat night we checked into our hostel, Base at Rotorua, and were pleasantly surprised by how much nicer one was. We took a short walk downtown, and went to a restaurant on Eat Street, a section of downtown with a bunch of restaurants and bars lined up next to each other on either side of the walkway. We were exhausted from lack of sleep and all the activities we had been doing, so we headed to bed early. Rotorua is relatively rural anyway, so there isn’t a whole lot of nightlife!
Eat Street, Rotorua
Horse Trek or Movie Set?
The next morning we woke up relatively early, and drove to Adventure Playground, where we did an hour-long horse trek through the mountainside. The horse I rode was named Rain, and although she was a little hard to control, the ride was still absolutely beautiful. The friend I’m traveling with lucked out too because she got to ride a “famous” horse who was used in the filming of Lord of the Rings. Specifically, the white horse that was Elrond’s horse. Although the movie was filmed a number of years ago, so the horse is a few years older now, you could see the resemblance! Just for reference, the real horse’s name is Dough Boy. Since the movie was filmed at many different locations across New Zealand due to the impressive and breathtaking landscapes, there are run-ins like this all across the country.
Rain & I trekking across the mountain
We made our way through the mountain side on horseback, taking in the lovely views and learning a little history about the specific areas we were seeing. Our guide told us about two Kiwi tribes living nearby, as well as about a nearby farm. At the top of the mountain, there was an incredible view of Lake Rotorua and the surrounding area.
Panoramic view on top of the mountain
In the afternoon we went on another adventure, a past-time activity unique to New Zealand called Zorbing! Basically two guys invented this activity where you jump inside a huge inflatable ball and rolls down a hill. Sounds fun right? But plot twist, they also fill the inside of the ball with some water so that as you roll down the hill, you also sort of get to go swimming! Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Check it out here: http://www.newzealand.com/us/plan/business/zorb-new-zealand/
The ball is structured like two huge inflatable balls, the smaller one inside of the other to create a thin air wall, and you climb through a hole that gets zipped up to keep you inside. As you gain momentum rolling down the hill, your body slides over the plastic in the ball, keeping you upright (mostly) as the ball spins. Physics. My friend and I got a three-ride pass, so we each went down all three track options once.
The first track was a straight down a hill, but a double ride so that we both went together! The second track zig-zags so that you roll slowly up a hill then speed up in between. I even went airborne a few times! The third track started slowly, then sped up through a steep hill, then slowed down at the end again. In the middle it was rolling so fast that I was literally rolling upside down and flipping inside the ball, but I survived right? In contrast, at the beginning and especially the end, the ball literally stopped moving so that I had to stand up and push against the inside front of the ball rolling again! They had a fantastic system down where they drive you up a hill, you roll down, then jump in a hot tub while you wait for everyone else, then repeat. This was not an activity I would have normally picked out, but according to local’s it’s a must-do while in New Zealand. It was definitely fun, and if you go, definitely wear a swimsuit!
In the evening we made dinner at the hostel, then took a walk around town to see what all was there. We stopped in a few stores, walked through the garden area, and down to the edge of the lake. After coming back to the hostel, we went in the heated pool for a while, which was literally a full size pool that feels like a hot tub. It was so ideal. With a full day of events ahead, it was a great way to spend a night and prep for the next day of excursions!
Thermal area in Rotorua
Lake we explored in Rotorua