From Whitianga I went to Thames, a nice town on the coast. I arrived in the early afternoon and it was a great day so I hired a bicycle and took it on the ferry across the bay. From there, my plan was to just follow the road and see where it took me. After about 30 minutes I turned onto another small road going up towards the coast. It led me up a long gravel path which dead-ended with a fence blocking off an overgrown path that looked very promising. I locked the bike to the fence and walked down the path to find a huge green field on a cliff overlooking the bay - and not another human being in sight for miles in any direction. I sat down in the grass and just looked out until the sun started to go down, then rode back to the hostel. After spending the night there (I stayed at “On the beach” - very nice place) I got back on the bus…

On the way to Rotorua we stopped for a couple hours in a town called Waitomo. Waitomo is famous for its caves, and several companies offer tours of them. The caves there are unique because they’re home to the glow worms. Glow worms are the phosphorescent larvae of a mosquito-like insect that use their glow to lure in other bugs. When they fly into the light they are trapped by the single sticky thread which hangs from each worm (you can see them in the photo below). I did a blackwater rafting tour - really fun! We all put on wetsuits and floated through the caves on innertubes.

formations 114da13am 050 (not my photos)

I got to Rotorua (Maori name: roto = lake, rua = second) in the afternoon and took a stroll through town. Not too much there, but it is known for its stinky natural springs which are all over the place. They are cool to see, but they end up making the place reek of sulfur.

the bog of eternal stench Freefall Extreme!

Just outside of town there is an odd set of tourist attractions grouped together as “the Agrodome.” I took a bus out there to experience the Freefall Extreme - a giant fan-powered skydiving simulator. It was quite fun, but not much like the real thing…

The next day, a massive storm came through so I just hung out around the hostel and read.