Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004

By car to Rotorua

Two weeks into the trip and today, it would (briefly!) enter a new phase. Instead of city-hopping by plane, I was to pick up my first rental car and drive out to Rotorua. A rather longer period of touring by car would follow on the South Island, later in the week. But first things first ...

I awoke with the alarm at 0700 and forced myself to get up about a quarter of an hour later. By the time I'd had a shower, I sensed that time was getting short. The room seemed to be a bit of a shambles (it probably wasn't, really) and I had a shuttle to the airport booked for 0845. I decided to have a cup of coffee and a biscuit in my room and postpone breakfast until I had picked up the car. It proved to be a good move; I made it down to the lobby with about 3 minutes to spare.

I had an uneventful journey back to the airport. I had decided when planning the trip that the airport was probably a better place to pick up the car, rather than the centre of an unfamiliar city, even if this were possible. They were ready for me and there was no need to get a further shuttle to some remote location; my car was parked and waiting just outside the terminal building   I had spotted a fast-food eatery on the way in and successfully tracked it down again, albeit after a false move into what turned out to be an office car park

Suitably (?) fed, I hit the road for real. Unfortunately there was to be one further false move. I joined the motorway in the wrong direction, but very quickly realised my mistake, exited at the first junction and re-joined - not a problem, apart from ten wasted minutes. It was the last wrong move; from that point I was able to drive directly to my hotel in Rotorua without a hitch. The motorway didn't last long - it was soon a case of ordinary roads with occasional passing lanes. The countryside became more attractive the further into the journey I got. I spotted a few instances of aggressive driving (not aimed at me!), but the main thing that surprised me was the almost universal disregard for the painted lane markings on the road   Honestly, folks, how difficult can it be to keep a small vehicle like a car between the lines? Drive like that in the UK and you'd probably be reported as a suspected drunk. (Having said that, I see Edinburgh's bus lanes being fouled by couldn't-care-less motorists on a daily basis.)

After checking into my hotel, I quickly headed out again to find something for lunch and to explore the town. I got the impression that many people were exploring by car, but having spent the whole morning behind the wheel, I decided it would be much better to do a bit of walking. I had a Chicken Caesar lunch at an Italian place, then set off in earnest. I headed for the lakeside and found my way to the very attractive St Faith's Anglican church, right by the water. Then I walked a trail around the lakeshore, taking maybe half an hour to complete. It was an excellent experience. I realised the perhaps obvious fact that the whole trip up to this point had been based in cities; here I was now walking by a lakeside, with the gentle lapping of the water the only sound in evidence. I felt I experienced a kind of renewal just by being there. Then I took a deep breath and experienced a kind of nausea instead

You see, Rotorua stinks. Don't get me wrong, now, it's an attractive place and deserves to be part of any North Island itinerary. It's just that, with all the geo-thermal activity in the area, the pong of rotten eggs is all-pervasive. There is simply no getting away from it. Why hadn't I packed a clothes peg for my nose?

Back at my hotel, I was dismayed to find that a group of loud, partying women were installed in the room next door   Ugh ... just my luck   Desperate to escape the hideous racket, I decided that room service was out of the question and went out to find something to eat. I spotted a branch of Sizzler's and decided that this would do just fine. I had tomato soup and a sizzling sirloin steak (good alliteration, eh? ), with a baked potato and some salad. Returning to the hotel, where festivities were still in full swing , I donned my noise-cancelling headphones and watched another of my DVDs. By the time it was finished, things had become blissfully peaceful

Saturday 13 Mar

Next Day

Previous Day