Rotorua, North Island, Part I

I recently got back from a 6 day trip to Rotorua with the Southerner, his mom, and her boyfriend.  I’ve been wanting to visit Rotorua since we arrived in New Zealand back in January and it did not disappoint.  We drove from Wellington and broke up the drive to Rotorua by spending our first night in Napier, dubbed “the art deco capital of the world” and well worth a visit.  The locals in Napier were incredibly friendly and one local, Russell, even let the Southerner and I join his trivia team at the Irish pub that evening.  We came in 3rd and won a $20 bar tab! Russell told us it was the first time he’d ever placed in the top three which was kind of hard to believe given his insane knowledge of all things rugby and the royal family.  I managed to answer two questions for him thanks to my insane knowledge of all things Harry Potter so I felt like my free drink was well deserved.

The drive from Napier to Rotorua was stunning.  We hardly noticed the four hour travel time because we were too busy staring out the car window at the incredible scenery.  It’s the first time I’ve really seen landscape here that was straight out of Lord of the Rings.  On the way to Rotorua, we stopped for lunch in Taupo and spent a few hours visiting Huka Falls and the Huka Prawn Park.

Huka Falls

After stuffing ourselves on prawns, we headed towards Rotorua.  The first thing you notice about Rotorua is the smell from the sulphur deposits and geysers located all around the city.  The guidebooks call it “Stinkyville,” but you kind of get used to it after a couple of days.  Unless you’re hungover.  “Pukeyville” would probably be a more appropriate nickname then.

I’m usually left in charge of making travel plans for most of our vacations.  This is because I will obsessively research hotel and restaurant information beforehand and because I usually do a good job  of picking these things.  The hotel I chose in Rotorua has probably ensured that I will never be left in charge of these things again.  All of our excitement driving into town completely died as we pulled into the hotel.  The hotel that is under renovation and is located next to a huge outdated looking liqour store.  The hotel that has a courtyard full of a hundred fucking birds whose duty it was to start singing in unison at 6am and never stop.

I don’t take kindly to being responsible for ruining a trip’s mood due to a decision that I made.  My anger and embarrassment started building the moment we pulled into the parking lot.  The rest of our party did their best to act happy so I let them put their things in our rooms while I went down to the front desk to take care of business.

Me: I’m sorry but have you ever heard of false advertising?

Hotel Manager: Excuse me?

Me: Have you taken a look at the pictures on your website and compared them to your actual hotel?

Manager: I apologize for that but we’re under renovation.

Me: I’d like to cancel the rest of our stay here after tonight.

Manager: I can’t do that for you unless you have a valid reason for needing to leave.

Me: How about that this place is a DUMP. Is that valid enough?

Voila! Trip saved.  I hate being an American in a foreign place in these situations.  I hate giving fodder to the stereotype that we’re spoiled and think we’re superior.  I wish I could hire someone with a New Zealand accent to do my dirty work for me.  But, sometimes I want my Whopper Jr. without pickles and extra ketchup and sometimes I don’t want to pay to stay somewhere that is in desperate need of a good hosing down with a bucket of lysol.

After we moved hotels, the rest of our trip was amazing.  Part II tomorrow.

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