Sunday, July 14, 2013

Zorbs, Lions, and Waterfalls- oh my!

Our second, and last, day in Rotorua we spent driving around trying to do as many things as possible. The first was for Greg and Olivia to go zorbing. Rotorua is actually where it was invented. Haven't heard of it? Zorb is a giant, clear plastic ball, that you crawl inside of, and are either strapped in or they pour water inside so you slide all over the place on a little floaty seat. Then they push you down a hill.

Needless to say, we were excited. We did the water version so we are wearing bathing suits. Just fyi, in case you were concerned Olivia was just wandering around with pants. That crazy girl!

Olivia went first. They had three courses you could choose: straight down the hill, a longer flatter hill, or an extra curvy, winding way down the hill. We both chose the latter- maximum bounce-age!

Olivia coming in a for a landing. The water makes it a smooth ride and you slip and slide all over the zorb. It's a ton of fun.

After finishing her run, Olivia is birthed out of her zorb.

Now you may have heard about zorbing because it made international headlines when two men in Russia died while zorbing. Well, what happened was that Russia doesn't really have safety guidelines and their zorbing track was literally right next to a cliff. It bounced wrong, and that was that. The first thing we did was check for any nearby cliffs. Check. Nothing but fields full of sheep. Greg managed to get back on his feet towards the end of his zorb run. He's awesome.

On our way out, we saw this sign for the Agrodome a "world famous" sheep show. Tempting, but after much deliberation, we decided to pass.

The North Island apparently decided awhile back that the best way to promote road safety was to make highway signs with funny little owls. Here's one of them. Cute!

As we were driving we saw this sign for a "discount" on gas. Ha! That's $2.28 a liter, almost 75 cents more than in Canberra. You can keep your discount Rotorua.

Now this takes a little explanation. We were about to leave for Taupo when we saw a sign for a local wildlife park that featured a petting zoo with lion cubs. Laurel and Olivia freaked out and we detoured there immediately. The rule is that you can pet lion cubs until they are one year old, and then it becomes too dangerous and they move the cubs to the adult enclosure and replace them with new baby cubs. These were 50 weeks, 1 week away from the move to adult lion world. Upon entering we asked if it was all right to bring Immy over. The attendant said, "Yes, no problem they're quite docile." Forgetting Kiwi and Australian easy going natures we accepted this at face value. That was a mistake.

Immediately, after the below picture was taken, the lion looked back, locked eyes on Immy, stood up and took a big swipe at the cage towards our direction. Fortunately Greg had already back pedaled halfway across the petting zoo. The attendant seeing this said, "Oh yeah, his natural instincts are kicking in. Now that he's noticed your baby you should probably stay away. Maybe take her over to the other lion who hasn't smelled her yet." Um, no. Greg and Immy immediately left the lion cub area while Olivia and Laurel stuck around for a few more pictures. Parenting fail.

So there you go Immy, that's the story of how we almost fed you to a lion when you were four months old. Sorry about that.

Laurel and the lion take a moment to size each other up.

Yeah, that spot feels pretty good ladies. Scratch right there. Thanks, I'm going to drift off to sleep now, with a happy lion smile.

We figured after petting the lions we might as well check out the rest of the park. Olivia stopped for a quick nap in this animal bed in a cottage.

This is a kea. The world's only alpine parrot. They are incredibly smart, and everyone we met told them that the worst thing you can do is to offer food to one. This isn't because they get dependent on you, it's because if they are fed they don't have to expend all their energy on hunting. Instead, they have free time and can use it to get into trouble. They are incredibly mischievous birds, and like to make off with unguarded objects- sunnies, shoes, passports. They've even been known to pry off the rubber bits on cars. Very destructive birds.

Olivia feeding a deer. He was in the middle of molting his antlers, so he had these raggedy, withered things hanging off his head. Not cute deer.

The wildlife park is built around a river and a trout breeding area. The fish are free to leave anytime, but a lot stick around because it's their home anyway. Imogen getting a front row seat for some underwater viewing.

Imogen loved the wallabies, she thought they were just the funniest things ever. We had never heard her laugh like that. It was super adorable.

When it was Olivia's turn to feed the wallabies they were all full and hopped away. The duck stayed though. Poor Olivia.

A separate part of the zoo holds the adult lions. The male had found a nice cave to catch a nap in.

After departing the wildlife park we drove to Taupo making a brief stop to check out Huka Falls for some photo opportunities.

The drop isn't exceptionally high, but the squeeze between the rocks is pretty tight, forcing the water to move at a very high velocity. It was spectacular in a completely different way than other waterfalls.

The next day was going to be a big one. Olivia and Greg were setting off on their all day hike through Tongariro Crossing, the home of Mount Doom. Stay tuned.

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