Lands Down Under (Day 17)

January 27

Tauranga (Rotorua)

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[“Tauranga is the most populous city in the Bay of Plenty Region of the North Island.  It was settled by Māori late in the 13th century and by Europeans in the early 19th century and was constituted as a city in 1963. Tauranga City is the centre of the fifth largest urban area in New Zealand, with an urban population of 134,400 (Wikpedia).]

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[A loyal follower of the blog (yeah, I was surprised too) recently queried, “New Zealand is puzzling.  No hobbits, no kiwi, no natives in feathered costumes.  Always raining.  Could you hear chants of “Kong, King” from the interior?  The Beehive looked like you should have arrived on a Klingon warship.  Just kidding.”  Well, here we begin to put a dent in those issues, so much so this day will require at least two separate postings!]

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[Though we keep traveling north (toward the Equator and thus allegedly warmer climes), we have left tropical island terrain in favor of . . . northern California?]

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[Approaching our berthing area, as you can see on the map a bit north of Tauranga.]

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[Reasonably attractive, if not more so?]

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[Tug boats seem to be following us around.]

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[I think we were initially to be tendered in but the ship did end up docking – I think we beat this following ship to the spot?]

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[Showing off a 360?]

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[We beat a Regent.  They are ulra-luxurious, thus we did not meet their passenger qualifications.]

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[When you have a few thousand passengers, it’s like lading a major grocery store. I saw them move one pallet with nothing but cases of Heineken beer on it!]

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[Greeted upon disembarking we were told we got off the wrong side of the ship . . . I think?  See, if you would have gotten off on the port side, it was just a 75-foot plunge into the water and a short swim to shore . . . ]

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[Everybody down here seems incredibly fit . . . I hate them!]

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[We have boarded our mini-tour bus (separate arrangements the Super or our travel agent make at these stops) for a tour of the area.  I believe our guide/driver told us something about these quite large evergreens along the side of the road.  The topographical mound ahead of us is Mount Maunganui.]

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[He’s mic’ed to advise of things as we go along – like maybe about the cool looking waterfront condo or hotel ahead on the right.]

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[Apparently a baby makes a daily trip down to enjoy the beach.]

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[We’re heading from Tauranga to Rotorua.  As I recall, this is (was) a military area from which the tree-topped hill was used as an observation post during WWII.  Of course, my recollections may be totally wrong but I could find nothing on this . . . ]

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[Or this?]

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[A stop along the way, Comvita, home of natural health in New Zealand.  We sampled many varieties of honey here.]

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[As we approach Rotorua, we’re also approaching the area where the Hobbit movies were filmed.]

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[Keep an eye out for Bilbo Baggins!]

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[I believe we’ve mentioned the importance of the lumber industry to New Zealand and Australia.  They’re able to turnover trees about every 25 years for their Asian markets, mostly China.]

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[Lakes and hills and trees and stuff . . . ]

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[As the sign says . . . ]

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[And here’s the turbine.]

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[A short walk through the “jungle” to the falls overlook . . . ]

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[OK, it’s not gigantic.]

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[Our guide notes what to my eye is a fern.  I don’t know if this one was special or just that ferns are about the oldest plant life on the planet.]

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[There was a handrail-less stairway down for a closer look at the falls. We heard it may be slippery . . . as a certified coward, I opted out.]

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[A bee on a plant . . . ]

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[A bee in flight.]

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[And here’s six from the Super at the very same place . . . (well, actually this first one is at at the Redwoods TreeWalk in Whakawarewa Forest (did I mention northern California before?) – we did’t stop, just a drive through the parking lot)]

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[Now Okere Falls again . . . ]

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[With Tourist 1 . . . ]

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[And Tourist 2, the hat guy . . . ]

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[I’m reasonably sure this is a white flower.]

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[Leaving the park (and back on my nickel), kayakers get ready . . . ]

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[To plunge into the rapids below.]

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[This appears to be the beginnings of Lake Rotorua . . . ]

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[The lake . . . ]

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[Almost there – gotta love the roundabouts.]

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[How could I not?]

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[And here we’ve stopped at the lake – and Reetz jumped into immediate action!  You can see from this (and following photos) that Lake Rotorua is quite large.  I was surprised our guide didn’t know how big?  So I just “searched” it as I’m writing this . . . almost 20,000 acres – for you in the Minnesota listening area that places it exactly between Lake Minnetonka, at about 15,000 acres, and Lake Kabetogema, at about 25,000 acres.  Now you have perspective!  The depth of Rotorua is only 30 feet, so it’s not a deep lake.]

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[I don’t know if this is a ferry, or an entertainment boat?]

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[Chopper flights are avalable . . . ]

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[And so is lunch!]

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[And a lovely setting for a nosh.]

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[And from the Super . . . ]

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[And there goes the Lakeland Queen.  Did I mention it was a beautiful day?]

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[Swans of an ebony hue.]

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[Our fine dining facility]

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[Kathy and a moment of Zen]

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[The swans also Zenning]

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[A water craft]

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[Reetz just missed the helocopter.]

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[But there’s also a floatplane available]

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[The signage noting it was the Lakeside Cafe, a fine, if obvious, choice of names.]

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[Maybe John Lennon was here?  I’d like to solve the puzzle, Pat.]

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[Two planes, a helicopter, and hundreds of ducks]

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[How kids in New Zealand are disciplined . . . ]

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[The dreaded “Kid in a Bubble.”]

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[The Super checks on a rollerblader.]

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[And shoots a photo op . . . ]

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[And here are five more of her photo ops . . . ]

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[Well framed, Ruthie!]

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[And then time to move on . . . ]

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New Zealand was colonized initially by those Australians who had the initiative to escape.  ~  Robert Muldoon

Up next:  The Maori village

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