Sep 132011

This is Part III in a series of guest posts by Frank Gourley.


For the Smell of it!, cont….  Travelogue and Photos by Frank Gourley

Our first stop the next day was the wildlife park.  Kiwi Wildlife Park was well laid out, with several aviaries with various birds, pools of trout, wallabies, farm animals, and two areas for kiwis – one was outdoors for nighttime viewing and the other was a building with displays about kiwis and a large darkened room, with red lights, for daytime viewing.  The kiwi is classified as a mammal, although it lays eggs.

We spent a couple of hours at the park checking out all the wildlife.  Of particular interest (in addition to the kiwis) was a video of kea birds, the most intelligent of birds.  The video showed them quickly solving a variety of complex ‘puzzles’ to get to food.

From the wildlife park we went to ride the sternwheeler on Lake Rotorua and eat our picnic lunch.  It was a beautiful, clear day and views of the surrounding hills were lovely.  The ride lasted about 45 minutes and featured a fisherman pulling in a trout.  We also rode by Sulfur Point and Sulfur Bay, where our hotel was.  There is an island in the middle of the lake that is a preserve for endangered indigenous animals.

After our boat ride we went back to the hotel and took it easy the rest of the afternoon.

Back at the hotel there were ten big tour buses parked for the evening.  There have been about that many there every night, but this was the first time we have counted them.  One group (at least) was from Japan.  Earlier they had been in the lobby watching a brief ‘performance’ by a couple of guys before proceeding to the dining room.  The guys were dressed like traditional Maoris  – one with only a grass-like skirt and the other with a wrap and pants.  One looked like to be of Maori descent, the other looked to be of European descent.  Before leading the group into the dining room, they said a few words and blew a conch shell.  We didn’t stay for the rest of the show.

Today we leave Rotorua for Queenstown.  While making our way to the airport, we passed a farmstead with lots of small buildings and animals, two large tree houses, a contemporary-looking house, and several cars and trucks that appeared to be in good shape.  We decided to turn around and go back for a look.

We passed by and pulled into a drive beyond the main entry.  A sign on the gate said, “Slow – Free-range children at play.”

We went back and pulled off the road at the main gate.  There was a guy working out in the yard, so we asked him if we could take a few pictures.  He said “Sure! Come on in and look around a bit, if you like.”  His wife was working nearby and she came over.  Everyone started talking and she offered to let us see the large tree house, which they were using as an office for his business.  It had a porch in one corner and a large room and a side room inside!  Their garden had grow-boxes, a potting shed, small windmill, woven wood gates, woven wood seats, and a water tank.  Nearby were several other buildings of various designs and shapes used for storage.

Beyond that was a fenced-in area with a number of small structures for the animals.  They had chickens, sheep, a goat, and a burro in this area.

They had pageto (?) trees in the side yard.  She asked if we had ever tasted them.  We said ‘No’, so she shook a limb, picked up all of the ones that fell off (12-15), and gave them to us.  They were a green-skinned fruit somewhat like a kiwi.  After a long, warm, and engaging conversation we pulled ourselves away to catch our plane.  We all agreed that this happenstance stop was the highlight of our time in Rotorua!

Stay tuned for Part IV – Off to the Land of Oz

Frank Gourley retired in 2006 as an administrator of engineering technology education programs at the university level, and now pursues his interests in Travel, Photography, Architecture, Woodworking, Music, Singing, Guitar, Watercolor, Art, Crafts, Gardening, Railroading, Beaching, Boats, Canoeing, Outdoors & Wildlife, Construction, Alternative Health, Yoga, Maps, Cooking, Oriental Landscaping, Chronicling, and Genealogy, in addition to enjoying activities with family and friends.  He and Genene, his wife, live in Charleston, WV.

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