Extra details about Rotorua Maori center:
They split the large group into 5 small groups and then chose one man from each to be the “chief” of our group. Our chief was a skinny white guy from Belgium who looked liked he worked in IT. I wouldn’t trust him to lead our tribe into battle. But I’m guessing he’d be a good negotiator and could convince the other tribe to spare our lives in return for indentured servitude. Each group then went to different stations to learn about Maori culture like tattoos, dancing, games, cooking, and the haka. While the food was being prepped we were given a show of songs and dancing. And then we ate! We sat at the table with the chief and his wife. A couple from Spain and another couple from the Netherlands. It was pretty entertaining to hear them all chatting with each other in English. I was a little disappointed that the chief and his wife from Belgium were from the German speaking part so I couldn’t practice my French. The Spanish couple didn’t even try to talk to becca in Spanish when she told them she spoke Arizona Mexican Spanish. They were all having a great time. Maybe because of the wine. The Netherlands and Spanish couple were doing the opposite tour that we are. They started on the South Island and worked their way up. They have us good pointers of things to think about before we go. Like how it’s more rural and they close their shops at 5pm. They said they tried to eat dinner a few times at like 7pm and nothing was open. So they suggested bringing extra food with us in case we can’t find anything. Also it’s about 10 degrees Celsius colder there. Also these couples were like on their 10th week of vacation. We thought three weeks was a long time. It made sense for the Netherlands couple. They looked retired. But the other couples are just used to European vacation time which is a lot.
Day 9 – Lake Taupo
From my previous emails you might be thinking, “wow, does Lena even like Becca? Why is she traveling with her?”
The answer is, “yes I like becca and she’s a wonderful traveling companion. I just like to exaggerate certain situations at her expense.” Now you might be thinking, “wow, does becca even like Lena now?” The answer is unclear….
When we went to pay for our camping site there was a sign saying “don’t put money in here because it gets stolen over night. Instead go into town and pay or mail us $8”. So we went into town. We were thinking we would just mail the fee since we wanted to get on our way but there wasn’t an accessible bathroom at the camp ground and there were way too many people at the site for me to scar that we thought it’d be better to go into town anyways.
My allergies were acting up today so becca also went to a drug store to buy me eyedrops. Turns out I like NZ but I’m allergic to it. Kinda like becca and cats.
We drove an hour to lake taupo. There was a big mountain biking event happening so there were a billion bikes near the highway and into town. Also bike sales. We thought about buying one but everything is expensive here. Becca was hungry so we went to an Indian place for lunch. Curry and naan for only $10! Becca got vegetable korma and I got chicken tikka masala. My masala tasted different than in the states. Still good though. The best part about the restaurant was the Indian man with a New Zealand accent. The curry wasn’t bad either. Becca also convinced the Indian man to give us the password to their WiFi so we could post pictures on Instagram to make sure everyone was still jealous of us. Then becca disappeared for 12 hours and came back with ice cream. Only for her. Not for me. She knows me so well.*
*I must add here that I didn’t actually want ice cream and becca did share some bites with me so it wasn’t anything malicious. Also she wanted me to add that she came back with a cone not a cup so that I could eat the cone. If the ice cream were just for her only it would be in a cup.
After we ate beccas ice cream we went walking around the downtown. Taupo is next to a lake and has a similar vibe to Santa Cruz or park city. Outdoorsy and posh. We ended up in an outdoor clothing store. Kathmandu. We were trying to find a new knife fork spoon combination since becca broke hers. She’s getting very muscley lifting me in and out of our camper van everyday. But this store didn’t have any. But they did have fun clothes and they were having a summer Black Friday sale. So we bought stuff. It was great they were trying to get rid of all their winter jackets. I bought a sweater and some packing cubes as I’ve since learned of their importance while being on this trip. Becca got a nice linen button up shirt.
Then we walked to another outdoor store which looked like an older couple owned. They were cute and were able to find the utensil combo we were looking for. So all in all it was a success.
Then we headed back to our van and set out for Napier which was about 2 hours away. Along the way we saw beautiful yellow flowers speckled along the hillside. Becca wanted to take a time lapse of them so we pulled over for about half and hour to do that. I’ll post a picture. While she was timelapsing, I worked on my New Years resolutions. When becca finished it started to rain really hard. It was good timing.
Then we drove around Napier which is right on the coast so it’s a beach town and we looked for free overnight camping. NZ has the infrastructure set up where certain areas have free camper van parking. Like. Designated parking spots along the beach specifically for camper vans. The first area we went to didn’t have any spots. But one of the vans started backing out so we thought they might be leaving. Instead they proceeded to make the most roundabout 9 point turn to back into the parking spot. They almost hit 2 cars nearby and they did actually hit 1 camper van in the process. I could have parked the van faster and safer being paralyzed than the way this guy was doing it. Once the camper van owner that got hit got out of van to have a camper van rumble, we left. We ended up going to another area with a lot of spots and nice bathrooms. We ended up making pad Thai backpacking meals where you just add boiling water. Then we took a little walk along the beach and got ready for bed.