Tuesday, May 13, 2014
New Zealand - Waitomo & Rotorua
The trip to Waitomo and Rotorua was done with a day tour that I booked. I'm such a weird person that I get all anxious if I have to explore a place by myself AND if I have to do it with a day tour. Alone makes me all nervous because I only have to rely on myself. A day tour makes me all nervous because I don't know how the crowd will be and being alone it's like going into a class for a first time when you know no one and you feel like you want to just not do this. Well not really reaching the point of not wanting to do this, but there's more nerve than necessary. Of course it's started with the pick up where you wonder if the people who supposed to pick you up remember that and when they're just a few minutes late, you're getting more anxious. That morning, I got down to the lobby. Saw a couple waiting. I kinda wondered if they're doing the same tour as me, but perhaps it's too early that I didn't feel like speaking yet. The pick up for me was late but I know they didn't forget me because a fax was waiting for me when I checked in the day before to remind me of this, so it's very nice of them. I booked this tour from my usual place, Viator, and it turned out this is the Great Sights tour, similar to the bus I took in Lake Tekapo to take me to Christchurch. So anyway, the bus came. The couple didn't get on, so they're weren't in my group. It turned out like in Japan, this bus would take us to the meeting point where we would be sorted out. There was already a queue of people waiting to get sorted out, so I didn't arrive that early. Side note: I could actually walk to Sky City where the meeting point is and that would like take me faster, but since before I arrived I didn't know if I'd be able to figure my way out, I wanted it to be made easy with a pick up. So I got sorted out, the lady gave me a small bowl of fruit, how nice and off I got into the bus. The bus was already quite filled, but I managed to find a window seat at the back where the toilet is, but thankfully no one used the toilet during the drive.
The driver / commentary guide is Reese, who's really a charming fellow. I really kinda admire these people who have to drive a bus on long journey and talk about stuff throughout. Along with him, there's also another staff, like in the bus I took in Lake Tekapo, it's a Japanese speaking lady. Maybe there's always many Japanese and perhaps they often don't really speak English. In this bus, there's actually only 1 couple from Osaka. The wife seemed to speak a bit of English. I talked a bit to her later in the day. Anyways, first stop was to the Waitomo Cave which has glowworms in it. You have to be guided to enter the cave which is perhaps a good idea. You don't want stupid people scribble something on the beautiful cave. It was actually pretty cool (and I mean that literally too), kinda what I imagined a cave would be and I meant that in kinda a modern way where the paths are not challenging and at times there's railing. Forgive me for being silly, but it is the first cave I have ever entered and I like that it's not tough. There are many stalagmites and stalactites and I did see a drop of water in one of the stalactite just waiting to drop. There's also an open space which they called The Cathedral and the guide said it has very good acoustic that they sometime have musical performance there. The guide asked if anyone wanted to sing, I think they do this with every group. No one did in our group and so he sang a Māori song which sounded nice. Later on, there was a girl in another group who sang Halelujah
and she sounded really beautiful. In the cave itself, there isn't any glowworms, so then we were taken to a dock where in groups we're to take a boat to get out of the cave. Here is where the glowworms are and it's mesmerizing. It's pitch black, so all you can see are these blue lights from the worms. They don't twinkle, but after awhile your eyes perhaps kinda fool you into thinking they are. The guide told us to be quiet when on the boat to make the experience much better and we all did even while waiting. I was really surprised how the staff knows where or how to go because it's really dark, it turned out they feel their way with the ropes which are attached in the cave. It's an indescribable experience. The glowworms huddled together and they're like forming a map of a place you never know. It's haunting at the same time, that I feel like it's perhaps what it's like when you take the boat to meet Hades. Seriously, it's one of the most unique experience of my life, to which there's no comparison. Photographs are not allowed in the cave and the underground river, so I got postcards. Unfortunately my pictures of them didn't come out alright, but it's roughly what Waitomo Cave and the glowworms light are like.
The boat ride is not actually very long and they we came out to the light and this is where everyone took pictures of what little bit of the cave and river than we could see. This is also where the girl from Osaka asked me to take a picture of her and her husband, perhaps she's more comfortable asking fellow Asian and since I was alone, obviously I'm not intimidating :)
After that we got our lunch which is in a box, a big box. That kinda made me happy because that meant there's no need for the awkwardness of having to sit in a table with strangers, which to be fair, I have had nice conversation when I had to sit and eat in a table with strangers, but still I am by default feel nervous about having to put myself in social situation with strangers. So the box, it's big, there's a sandwich which I didn't really investigate what's inside it. My reasoning is if I see what's really in it, I would be all too picky and take out things. It tasted nice which reminded me of the Surabaya Om whom I met who told me they didn't fancy the lunch. I think there's chicken, some vegetable, heaps of cheese, and jam? The jam part was rather weird but turned out to taste nice altogether. Then there's cheese cake which was awesome. Then there's a muffin which at first I thought was corn muffin, but it's not, I don't know what it was, but it's nice. Then there's a small juice box and an apple. I ate all, but I saved the apple because there's just too much to eat.
After that we went to the Agrodome in Rotorua where we're split into groups, the people who's continuing to Rotorua (which is me) and the people going to Hobbiton. My group is rather small, I think there's only 7 of us. Agrodome itself is a farm where they do show and tell. First we went to watch a demonstration of a sheep being sheared. As I walked to get seated, a lady said hey to me while raising her hand. It turned out it's the lady from that morning in the hotel. I was surprised actually, especially because she's Japanese and Japanese are reserved, they don't usually show big emotion, and she was like waving saying hi excitedly :D It turned out she took a different tour doing exactly the same thing as me. Her group was also small, so for the rest of the day our 2 groups were grouped together. Anyway, I think the show and tell was shorter than usual because our combined group was small, so we only saw a sheep being sheared. Later on I saw that with a bigger group, the show and tell included showing different types of sheep. The shearing of the sheep was very interesting though because of how submissive and calm the sheep throughout the whole thing. The guy had to do it very slowly for the purpose of showing us how to do it. He said in real life, they could shear a sheep in a matter of seconds and they should because they get paid by the number of sheep they shear. Do you know that the sheep's wool has some kind of oil in it and they say that's why the shearers have very soft hand. After that we went to see how the sheep dog, Dot, shepherded the sheep. The guy said the technique that Dot was doing is called mustering. She didn't bark, she just kinda mustered the sheep to the direction she wanted by her stand and looking at them. I supposed it's like giving them the bitch look though she didn't look bitchy at all :D She was sweet and obedient. Then off we went on a ride being pulled by a tractor to see the rest of the farms. Here we saw cows and different kinds of sheep. There were ostriches and chicken too.
At one point, we stopped to feed the sheep which I didn't do because I'm such spoilt brat that I didn't want to get dirty. I did get down and doing that itself was already quite a mess because the ground was littered with poo. It was interesting seeing sheep actually moving and running. As expected in New Zealand, when you're on the road, you will just see sheep after sheep after sheep and what they do is just eat and eat and eat, from morning to night. I wonder how many hours they take to sleep, they're all just munching away all the time. They're cute though. They're used to this, so they're running towards us knowing we have food. Some of them were really smart that they just went to the box where the feed was. They also went to crowd around me and that kinda made me uneasy but I stood my ground and just looked at them as they looked at me, telling them I got nothing for them. Then they just moved to other people. They're seriously very cute.
After that we went to Te Puia where there's a geyser, exciting stuff :D First off was to see a Māori concert. Before we could get to the hall, a guy must volunteer on the behalf of us tourists to do the greeting ritual / ceremony with the Māori warriors. A guy actually straight away raised his hands. I guess it's a rare chance so you gotta grab it. I have to say that the Māori warriors were intimidating. They're also big guys. Our tourist guy had to pick up a leaf and then that's pretty much is I guess, he went inside the hall and we too could go inside. He then did the pressing of the nose thing with the chief and the other guys and that's it. Then it's some songs and dance which was all very interesting and I am glad that I got to experience this :)
Then it's off to see the geyser with the guide. While waiting for people, I talked a bit with the Japanese lady from this morning. Her english is superb. They're from Hokkaido and I told her about my trip last year to Sapporo and me seeing Moerenuma Park. She's pretty nice and friendly that I think I asked her to take my picture later on. The geyser was amazing and there's a rainbow when we were there. This was my first ever experience seeing a geyser and I am thankful to God for this opportunity :)
We also saw a mud pool which is an area with hot mud that the mud would jump up. The splash wasn't that high though, thankfully perhaps :)
Then we went to see 2 kiwi birds in an enclosure. I was blind that I could only spot one, the male one, even though the guide was already telling us where the birds were. In my defense the enclosure was dark. Stupid me thought kiwi bird is very big, but it's not, it's like a chicken size, maybe slightly bigger. Now I wonder if Jurong Bird Park has kiwi birds in its collection. That's pretty much the day. We're given another chicken sandwich and water for tea break, which I ate at around 6 pm, but even then I couldn't finish it all. I think we were well fed in this trip. We picked up the Hobbiton group and then we made our way back to Auckland. It was already dark and people were mostly sleeping. I noticed that the sky had amazing stars. Well looking at them from inside the bus is not ideal because of the reflection on the window from the light inside the bus, but they sky had so many stars that I knew it was amazing and I thought it must be great to be able to go outside and put your head up. We reached Auckland at around 8 pm. Long day, but it was one of the great days. All the things I saw were pretty amazing and the day was beautiful with blue sky. For pictures from this trip, you can go here
:) eKa @ 9:34:00 PM •