22 March 2011
Rain and flooding in Northland caused me to do a quick change of plan. Instead of heading north to the Bay of Islands and Cape Renga I decided to go south to the smelly capital of NZ – Rotorua. Although the idea of staying in the sulphur laced air of Rotorua sounds off-putting it is well worth a visit. To get there I cycled into central Auckland again and went to the Inter-city bus station, next door to Sky City! I was feeling a bit nervous wondering if the bus driver would let me on and I got talking to the kiwi women waiting in the queue. People always want to know where you are from and when you say Scotland they tell you that they have a grandfather from there, usually somewhere in the Borders. This woman was a bit different.
“Where are you from?” she said
Near Edinburgh is my stock reply and if they have been there I usually follow up with, ‘I live east of Edinburgh in a place called Haddington.’
“I was born there,” she said
“Left when I was two and I’ve lived here ever since.”
If I had known as much about kiwi slang then as I do now I would have said ‘sweet as…’ but instead I acted as if these sorts of co-incidences happen all the time on the other side of the earth.
‘My mother is from East Linton, but I don’t think she’ll go back to visit, there’s no one left there now” she said.
The bus arrived and I palled up with the driver (this sometimes works and at other times it doesn’t.) On this occasion it worked and he let me on the bus without having to take any wheels off. When I thought about it I realised it was fair enough to have a rule about bikes because they go under the bus with the luggage and nobody wants a dirty bike on their backpack. But rules should be applied with some common sense and this bus driver had some, there was very little luggage so he didn’t apply the rule… he was a rarity! I found out later that he was also a bit strange. He applied the rule that ‘thou shalt not get on the bus if you have a ticket with the wrong time on it,’ to a young Indian lady and it was only after much pleading that he let her on. For the next half hour he talked to himself about passengers who tell you stories that aren’t true. Every now and again he looked over to me as if I would confirm what he was saying... whoops I should watch out who I should become friends with. When the trip was at least half over, he asked me where I was from and on learning I was a tourist he decided to give a running commentary on the sights as we passed them… not just to me but over the PA. He was keen on the horses and as luck would have it we were in a stud area, so we heard all about the owners of the studs and the horses that had been successful. Every now and again he mentioned a mountain or some other site which, he thought we might find interesting.
Rotorua - the lake and the hills around it are what remains of a volcanic cone
Entrance to Rotorua museum
We arrived at Rotorua and yes it was true the place smelt like slightly of rotting eggs but I liked the look of the town centre and I headed for the Funky Green Voyager backpackers on a bike which didn’t want to change gears again.
Funcky Green Voyager