Escaping Hamiltons hold. 21-22 January Blog 132

After morning ablutions we head to the Salvation Army shop I saw the other day and we grab ourselves some bargains two T shirts each, for less than one normal price. We can chuck some of the thread bare ones away.
Out of town we travel down highway 5 stopping in a little town famous for it’s corrugated works of art and signs. We have no problem in finding two such pieces, the i site (tourist info) is housed in a giant tin sheep dog complete with tongue hanging out. Next door in the equally giant sheep is the wool shop. The rest are on a much smaller scale a bunch of flowers for the flower shop etc. They are great talking pieces and really good works of art too. We take photos before resuming our route to Rotorura.
We have been in contact with our couchsurfer friend Debbie who lives in Napier and we are currently heading to Rotorura to stay with her parents Jeanette and Ernie.
Arriving about 4 ish we have a cup of tea and learn Jeanette and Ernie are about to embark on a trip to the south island in theirĀ  converted bus, they are in their late 60′s and still very much young at heart. Their son Phil lives next door and offers us to stay with him as their Granddaughter will move in when they are gone and the house is all upside down at the moment.
Rain is forecast for tomorrow so we quickly cook tea and zoom off to the local park in town which is another geothermal hot-spot. Again we see the steam rising and this time smell the sulphur long before arriving at the lakes. These are more active and the water is bubbling with huge amounts of steam. We only get to wander around one lake before the rain starts.
We turn for the dry of Phil’s house and hope the forecast for tomorrow is wrong.
Waking fairly early we see it is only spitting with rain so we intend to make the most of it. Rotorura has a gondola chairlift going up the side of the hill with something called the luge at the top.
We book three rides on the luge not quite knowing what’s in store but it looks fun. The only way up is via the gondola, the luge turns out to be big grin factor fun, launching yourself downhill in a three wheeled steerable sled on a slick concrete track. You control the braking and thus your speed. We try all three track routes the scenic which is the longest and a good introduction to the speeds you can get up to. Intermediate has banking and chicanes then the advanced, the most fun and the quickest even has jumps and s bends. You don’t even have to carry the sled up again you jump on a ski lift back to the start.
Having got our fill of excitement the cloud had lifted enough to see the views of the lake and town on our way down in the gondola. After lunching in the car park we explore the surrounding town. We check out some more thermal activity near the lake at a place called government gardens and also some near the river. We head back early as we are joining Jeanette and Ernie in their bus, going to a free concert in Rotorura town centre which is held every year. We spot the bus on the way home but they are heading into town early to get a spot Phil will bring us later.
We leave Phil’s 6pm and eventually find the bus hiding in a back car park. The rain that was forecast started at 3pm and is now quite heavy it is a shame as so much preparation has gone into organising this event and it seems the whole town is out to enjoy it.
We have dinner in the comfort of the bus before we decide to tog up and brave the elements. Once outside and in a chair under an umbrella watching the show it is fine and Jeanette, Kev and I enjoy the performances, there is all sorts of music to cater to a wide audience and we even get to hear some Maori songs.
The finale is fireworks across the lake. It has been a good evening despite the endless rain and we go home happy.
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