New Zealand North: Rotorua, The Luge

NZ: Day 7

Rotorua

Departing Taupo, we hopped off the bus with a few others at Rotorua, which isn’t actually a conventional stop on the route North as the bus stops here on its way South. The majority of the others headed straight to Auckland, while we joined those coming from the North at Base Hostel- which although very basic, actually had a small outdoor pool. In truth, it would have been wiser just to stay on the bus and make more of the town as a group when travelling back down. Nonetheless there was plenty here to keep us occupied.

First things first, Rotorua stinks! There are sulfuric volcanic geysers and openings all over the lakeside town. We thought it would be best to visit the majority of these when we returned on our loop back down. Instead, we were off Luging!

Jay, Maria and myself decided to walk to the gondola lifts which take you up to the luge centre at the top of the hill. It was about a 40 minute walk around the lake from the hostel in town.
We paid $45 for the gondola to the top and 5 rides down the moutain-side.

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The luge is basically a wheeled kart with a handle to steer and apply the brakes. The rest is done by gravity.
We started out with the basic ‘scenic’ route- the easy run- but also the longest. I have to admit it’s a hell of a lot of fun and makes you feel like a little kid again!

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At the bottom you get the chairlift back to the top and we this time decided to hit the ‘intermediate’ course and really start to race. This was definitely the best route down the mountain and we got quite competitive with our racing habits- so much so that I managed to come off and crash into the hillside; Apart from a few scratches on my elbows no real harm was done!

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We also tackled the ‘advanced’ route down the hill once- Definitely the fastest route and there’s a couple of little bumps that really surprise you and can give off a bit of air time- As its the steepest, its also the shortest route.
With all 5 of our luges completed, we sat and admired the view from the restaurant at the top of the hill and had a look around the Jelly bean shop, before getting the gondola back down and heading back to the hostel. We actually wanted and could have done the luging all day- It was that much fun- but with so much ahead of us, we couldn’t really afford to cough up another 40 bucks.

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On our way back, we managed to make the most of a $4 medium Dominoes Pizza offer and managed to pick up some free pepsi that was being promoted- cheap dinner! We completed the day at Lava bar, next door to the base with a few drinks with some of the people who had just come from Cathedral Bay, further North.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Auckland. When we come back to Roturua we’ve been advised not to miss out on the Maori Experience night and we’ll have to explore some of the volcanic geysers and maybe even hire a bike out and cycle through the redwoods- money permitting!

Base Hostel: $28/ £14 p/n         **
Luge, 5 rides: $45/ £22 p/n       ****

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