Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 30 New Zealand - Christchurch to Rotorua

Monday 23rd March, 2015 - Depart Christchurch

Transfer from Rydges Latimer Christchurch to Christchurch Airport.
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Pick up: 8:00am
Drop off: 8:30am

Another early morning pick up after a long day yesterday, and we head out without any coffee.
We pass more buildings damaged during the earthquake. There is a church which is fenced off and there are posts holding up the building.

It is early and I am struck by the number of unaccompanied children heading to school on bikes, on foot or scooters. It is interesting that I even noted this.

Depart for Rotorua, New Zealand
Please check-in at Christchurch Airport, Terminal for:
NZ 5374
Depart Christchurch Airport at 10:05am
Arrive Rotorua Airport Monday 23 March 2015 at 11:50am,
Duration: 1:45 NON STOP

WOW what a cool airport, we do the automatic check in, drop off our bags. And lo and behold there is no security to pass through. We stop and have coffee and delicious pastry for breakfast.

The flight is a small plane and the ride is very smooth.

Arrive Rotorua

Transfer from Rotorua Airport to Millennium Hotel Rotorua.
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Pick up: 11:50am
Drop off: 12:20pm

Rotorua is one of New Zealand's most popular visitor destinations and is known as the "District Full
of Surprises". Rotorua, the district of lakes and natural beauty, promises to offer the best of New
Zealand all in one place. It is the heartland of New Zealand's tourism and forest industries, supporting a strong agricultural base. The city is known for its geothermal activity, and features geysers - notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa - and hot mud pools. Rotorua is the jumping off point for adventure and for genuine travel experiences.

Again the driver is waiting with our names on a board and we make our way to the shuttle. It is really raining and the driver said we were lucky that the pilot could land, otherwise we would have landed at another airport an hour away and been bussed.

Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Corner of Eruera and Hinemaru Streets, Rotorua

Duration: 2 nights
This popular hotel in Rotorua is centrally located just a brief stroll to Lake Rotorua, Rotorua's
International Convention Centre, world famous Polynesian Spa, the town centre and only minutes
from Rotorua's key tourist attractions and adventure activities.

Millennium Hotel Rotorua

We check in and I ask for an upgrade to a lake view room, no problem, no cost and room is ready.
Tim, the doorman, had been chatting to John and said, you're Canadians. Taken aback John said yes, Tim was from San Francisco and saw our area code 416, seems San Fran is 415.
Tim gives us some good tips on when to go to the Polynesian Spa, that is when the "other" tours were not there.

Room is nice looking over the lake. These photos are from our room.
You can see (and smell) the sulphur springs all around town.

the steam that you can see in the middle is 212F boiling! The water is mixed with city water for the spa. there is a history to the name if this which I will share later.

We decide to shower and change and then have lunch in the hotel. We have a ham and cheese panini and a club sandwich which I had requested no egg. Well, it came with egg, the serve says oh I wrote no egg...
Then he disappears when we want to pay our bill. And did I mention how sloppy he was with his shirt tails hanging out?

We go out for a stroll, with our bathing "costumes" in hand for a stop at the spa.
Directly across the street is the art gallery. We are next to the Government Gardens.

Originally known as Paepaekumana, the Government Gardens are situated on the lake's edge in downtown Rotorua. This site is of legendary and historical importance to local Maori people, for here many significant battles have taken place.

In the late 1800s, the Maori people gifted 50 acres of this land to the crown "for the benefit of the people of the world". The land was a scrub-covered geothermal area with several therapeutic pools. The scrub was cleared and formal gardens planted. Several large trees remain from those early days, including multi-trunked Japanese firs and an unusual Californian weeping redwood.

Realising the opportunity to create a South Pacific spa attraction, in 1908 the New Zealand government opened a large and elaborate bath house, built in the Elizabethan Tudor style of architecture. Today this magnificent building houses a museum and an award-winning exhibition on the days when people came from all over the world to 'take the waters'
.In the early 1930s a second building, the Blue Baths, was constructed in an ornate Mediterranean style. These were among the first baths in the world to allow both males and females in the same pool. Rather than medicinal, the purpose of the Blue Baths was fun - a chance to socialise in the style of Hollywood movie stars. Fully restored to their original glory, the Blue Baths offer you the chance to relax in heated waters in an architecturally stunning setting.

It is so odd that it is March but we are seeing flowers that we associate with August and September.

I promised you the story of the Rachel Pool.

Signage at the springs reads: "Water from this boiling cauldron is alkaline and reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Silica-laden water from here was originally piped to the Pavillion Bath, later to the Bath House, and is still reticulated to the modern Polynesian Spa. Whangapipiro was renamed Rachel Pool after Madam Rachel, a notorious English cosmetician who promised youthful complexions because of the softening effect of silica water on the skin."

There are many more sculptures in the park but I am saving those for a separate post.

We opt for the private pool for thirty minutes with access afterwards to the other adult pools. the temperature is 39C. Very relaxing.

John walking along the foot massage path overlooking the lake.

We are just wiped after that, my body felt like I had had a full body massage.

We weren't sure what we wanted for dinner so we headed out.
Rotorua has 70,000 inhabitants and gets at least 20-40,000 tourists daily.

We were delighted to find a pedestrian mall full of restaurants.

We stopped for a beer, considering having dinner at this craft brewery but then decided that we wanted Italian instead.

Delicious lamb!


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