I knew I was ambitious thinking I’d blog this trip every day but I had forgotten just how full on it is to travel with 34 other people! From the time our day starts (this morning it was with someone singing in the shower next door at 6.30am), until the last child is asleep at about 10.30pm, it’s a solid routine of preparing food, driving, having fun, more driving, shopping, preparing food and cleaning up. There’s not a lot of downtime for writing!
Tuesday was our second day of adventure tourism with a trip across the gorge and Pyes Pa Rd to Tauranga and the Waimarino Activity Centre. This is a great complex set on the Wairoa River and is the training home of lots of NZ’s finest kayakers.
With our delightful guide Amy, we spent the morning out on the river in kayaks, learning the finer points of paddling. The water at Waimarino is not ‘cold’ or ‘freezing’ – use of these words is forbidden! Rather, it is ‘refreshingly chilly’, as many of the kids found when they fell out. It was a fun filled and hilarious morning with hoots of laughter after every splash and lots of fantastic team work displayed getting each other back into the kayaks.
After lunch it was time to push a few personal fears while jumping, sliding , diving and catapulting into the river from various high structures. The water slide was popular, as was the high diving board. I never get tired of seeing the look of terror at the top being replaced by the grin of achievement at the bottom.
New safety rules on the Blob- a giant pillow that acts as a catapult when someone else jumps on the other end- meant that no one quite reached the stratospheric heights of previous trips, but it was fun nevertheless.
On Wednesday we headed out to Agroventures, home of the Swoop, Agrojet and Freefall. Again, this was about controlled risk and personal challenge. The Swoop is a bungy like structure about 40 metres high. 3 people are strapped together in sleeping bags and dropped from the top. The weight of the riders causes the cord to ‘swoop’ down to the ground and then out across the paddock. For some this is just great fun, for others it is gut wrenchingly terrifying. No one begged for their life at the top this year but there were enough blood curdling screams to keep the observers entertained all morning.
The Agrojet was also popular- 100 km and hr around a very narrow waterway with spectacular 360 turns and lots of water spray. Phil and Lochie even got extra bang for their bucks when their boat hit a bank and when a few of the boys got a bit too close to the ‘splash zone’ we got some more entertainment for free!
The Freefall is a simulated parachute experience where you lie face down over a giant wind turbine thingy and your face looks like a dog’s does when it puts its head out the window of the ute. It was ok.
At lunchtime we managed some souvenir shopping in Rotorua Central and then headed back to the Agrodome for the sheep show. Here we were introduced to 19 different breeds of sheep, a cow and some gorgeous NZ huntaway sheep dogs. For farm kids like ours the show is mildly amusing and confusing at the same time (like, who has trained sheep?) but it does provide an insight into the contrast between NZ and Australian farms and the clever way NZ has harnessed agriculture as a tourist attraction.
Back at Waiteti the kids had time for a swim and a fish. They spent a lot of time getting wet while they tried to push Geoff in the water. Unfortunately none of our fishermen have been successful yet but persistence pays and I’m hopeful of some fresh trout before the trip is over.
We have mainly younger kids in this group so evening entertainment has become important. Very few of them have their electronic devices with them which is fantastic but it does mean that once the sun goes down we need things to do. Cards and chess have made an appearance and we have a quiz each night on the day’s happenings, followed by a couple of concert items. On Tuesday the kids doing Les Mis this year sang a few of their songs and last night Sophie & Zoee kept us mesmerized with their songs from an upcoming choir performance.
Today we’re off to Hamilton to the gardens, the Waikato Show and then to Waikato Stadium to see the rugby.