It’s an easy drive down the road to Rotorua. Erica even drives for a little while. It’s time to try the Zorb. This is a plastic, air-filled ball that looks like a large hamster ball. There is a place on the way to Rotorua, about the only place in the world with these things.
A giant conveyer belt lift that takes the ball up the hill where you climb in and they shove you down a track with berms on each side to keep the ball on track. It’s about 20 seconds of rolling and costs $45, so we give it a miss, but watch for awhile.
Alright, well let’s go soak in a pool. There’s some free camping and a thermal valley south of town. This area is actively volcanic and sits above a great fault. The pressure heats the water underground and it bubbles out at near-boiling temperatures all around the area.
At Waiotapu there’s a boat to some tracks and no pools but very expensive for the walk. Obviously confused the front-desk girl whips out a map since this must be a constant problem and shows us where we can go just down the road for a soak.
It takes us some time since even with a map we’re prone to get lost but eventually pull in to the parking lot. For two dollars more than the entry we can also camp and decide to spend the night at the pools. The boy behind the desk looks all of 15 and is missing most of his lower teeth.
By sleight of hand I wind up getting a deal on the place. It’s one of those times when you hand a big bill, in the middle of the person counting change realize you have something that’ll make the change easier but since he’d already started counting and tried to start over by re-exchanging the bills around I wind up with 10 dollars more than I should have and after hesitating and holding it all for him to look at decide it’s time to soak and bid him well.
While sitting around soaking and enjoying the place we read in the paper about the Dutch tourists. There is a little profile about them and how they were migrating to New Zealand and have now decided to leave. Their home town is in shock. They are grateful for all the donations sent in by concerned citizens but must leave. There are also some questions posed to other travelers. The girls we parked next to in Reinga are quoted as saying they had no idea as they don’t read the news while on vacation.
The next morning starts off with filling the Bedford’s fresh water tank and then climbing out of the valley up a steep hill. Two things become evident immediately. The camper won’t shift gears and the brakes are not right. It won’t shift in to the smaller passing gears and it sounds like the thing has air brakes. A pop-whooosh sound greets every push of the pedal.