John & Anne Wiley

2017/02/19

Rotorua

We woke for a leisurely morning exploring beautiful Tauranga. Our plan after that was to detour through Rotorua on a relaxed day driving back to Auckland and continue on from there the next day. Then a kind native Kiwi mentioned that his favorite thing ever was the Rotorua zip line, but when we called for details they said only two reservations remained for the next few days. Suddenly we were blindly racing the clock through some spectacular countryside to get there! In what seemed a moment, we went from frenzy to stillness high in an ancient forest beyond time.

131941 Time Travel

131941 Time Travel

We’d joined a wonderful Kiwi group from a small company, with each of whom we’d have enjoyed a lengthy conversation. Most of the zip groups are random strangers, but our good fortune was to be among these friends who’d spent years together. I breathed deeply typing that just now, recalling the delights of that brief time with them. Added to the majestic canopy, quiet and often playful moments with this welcoming group followed our progress between forest giants on seven different zip lines. Between the lines, our guides introduced forest wonders.

134110 Anne Finally Zips

134110 Anne Finally Zips

Anne has wanted to zip line since before we met. What a perfect introduction this was! We were sad to leave our new “family” but now faced a long drive and wanted to pace the slowest traffic on the highway, after having joined the fastest to make our zip appointment. Still, we had to drive around the lake for a quick stop at famed Kere Falls.

9753 Kere Falls Follies

9753 Kere Falls Follies

Not only do crazy Kiwis ride the white water in kayaks but some go over on inflatable rafts, pool toys – we even saw some guy riding an inflatable shark. Just down the river we found this quiet spot where mossy crags shelter water-carved rocks inviting a day of silent meditation.

9790 Meditation

9790 Meditation

But time tickled and we eased past this iconic green Hobbit hillside back toward the highway.

9777 NZ Archetype

9777 NZ Archetype

This is the archetypal image of New Zealand we’d heard of decades ago, that while still soul soothing we’d happily expanded already with so many more facets and memories of this enchanted land. Now mid-afternoon with only a snack, Anne wisely insisted we pause at Eat Street before hitting the highway to Auckland.

160141 Eat Street

160141 Eat Street

Somehow among all the places there, nothing caught our fancy and we wound up with takeout at colorful nearby Fat Dog.

155933 Delicious Fat Dog

155933 Delicious Fat Dog

We still managed a moderate pace and arrived before dark, greeted at the end of our longest NZ automobile exploration by the ever more familiar skyline and a big sign prophetically asking, “Where To Next?”

9699 Where To?

9699 Where To?

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