Sunday, January 9, 2011
It was the weekend, and there was not much else to do but explore. So, yesterday, a bus took me from Auckland to Hamilton to Rotorua. On that bus, I made a good friend – the first believer I have spoken to in New Zealand. This older lady lived in Rotorua, so she drew on my map to tell me where to go that wasn’t so tourist-centered (which means the free nature places). She was encouraging both in my travels, in my move to this country, and in our faith, and she gave me something that I can’t tell you about because it’s a secret. Tehehe.

A couple hours or so later, my friend arrived from Taupo and we grabbed dinner/tea. Unfortunately, I had waited too long to eat, so got sick… again. I was taken to the hostel to rest while he and two German girls he had found the night before went to the supermarket. No worries, though. I made friends with a girl from Belgium and helped her with her English. We had a lot of laughs before she finally ran out of questions and went to sleep!

The next morning, my friend came back. And we went to the Redwood Forest on the outskirts of the town. One of my goals on my list of things to do before I die was to visit the Redwoods in California, and these trees were imported from California a century ago. They grow faster here because of the richness of the soil, so they are insanely tall and fat.

We visited some geothermal sites in the middle of town next. By the way, all of Rotorua smells like rotten eggs because of the sulfur, but you get used to it after a while. The steam coming off this stuff smells quite stench-y.

After lunch at a little Korean restaurant, my friend left and I walked around a bit more toward Lake Rotorua and the gardens at the government buildings.

I made a volcano out of my food… 🙂
rose garden
me in the rose garden
museum from the croquet field

The ride home was very relaxing. The girl from Belgium had told me that the Rotorua area was where Mordor from Lord of the Rings was staged, so I was especially excited to be driving through Hobbiton on the way home!

The weekend was wonderful, and this country is breath-taking. It was good to see a friend for a day, and it was good to make new ones.
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