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  • Day36

    Tash's Birthday

    August 14, 2015 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    We had breakfast in the Savour Cafe at the Debretts reception. We had a look around the playground as Ed had left his coat somewhere - no luck, but fortunately he has another one with him. We set off for Rotorua, about an hour away, with the weather quite rainy.

    As we neared Rotorua we started to smell rotten eggs from the thermal gases. It had also fined up a bit at this stage. We spent a while trying to find somewhere to park - there were no obvious spaces until we got down to the lakefront near the Volcanic Air which we would be flying from tomorrow. We walked back to the i site ad picked up a few leaflets and chatted to the lady there. We decided to go to the Skyline Gondola place this afternoon and do some luge rides, a swing (Tash and me) and a zip wire (Tash, Ed and me).

    We went up the gondola after a bit of confusion queuing behind a large group of Japanese students and headed straight for the swing at the top. This involved been strapped into some seats and winched up to almost horizontal then released to swing down at 159km/h, then swing back and forth to rest. Tash and I were strapped in well, which became necessary quite quickly as we were winched up with all our weight being held by the straps!

    When we got to the top we were hanging facing pretty much straight down and the lady gave us a wave which was the signal top pul;l the release lever. Tash had wanted me to do this so I untangled it from the middle seat, gave a count of three then pulled. The clip released and we dropped, essentially free falling until the swing caught us at the bottom - took our breath away and was a crazy feeling. After the initial drop the swinging back and forth to rest was tame! We watched and bought the video and photos - our faces in the video weren't as crazy as I had expected. I had given a big shout of "woooaaah" as we took off which Sam and Ed watching heard clearly and laughed.

    We then went insde for some food to a buffet restaurant. The lady checking u in asked the kids ages and I mentioned Tash was 2 today, so she cleared us a table at the window with a good view. The buffet was good with a good selection, including quite a few Japanese dishes, presumably catering to the Asian market of tourist but tasty for us too. Ed had Fettuccine and Bolognese sauce, I had Japanese beef curry and sticky rice and also some tuna with Thai curry sauce as well as vegetable soup. The deserts were great too, pancakes, chocolate mousse, ice cream, jelly, fruit. Tash got a surprise when the waitress brought out a card signed by all the staff and a chocolate brownie cake with a candle and Happy Birthday iced in chocolate on the plate - very nice and she got her birthday cake!

    Full up we headed to do the zip wire - 400m long and 85km/h. They were just about to close because of the weather (wind and rain), but we said we were happy to do it (it was safe just not as comfortable as it could have been) so we got harnessed up and carried down our zip wheels. Two people could go together so Ed and Tash went first. They were strapped up (the harness formed a little seat) and shown the brake position, then released, Ed first then Tash. They sped down and were tiny dots by the time they reached then end. Then it was my turn, I was strapped in, sat back and waited for the all clear as the others were unstrapped. On release the acceleration wasn't like the swing earlier but still pretty fast and the speed built up. The launch lady had given me her sunglasses as rain eye shields as it had got heavier since the kids were released. This helped but I really needed window wipers on them to clear them from the rain. The brake was a bit harsh and I couldn't see the man giving me the signal to assume the brake position, but stopped OK anyway.

    Once unclipped the last part of the ride was free fall. This involved being strapped to a pulley, walking backwards down an 18 inch plank until your heels were overhanging the end then holding the strap and leaning straight backwards, falling off with a metre or two of free fall before the pully caught your weight and lowered you the remaining 8m or so to the ground. Tahs went first and was brilliant, walking straight out, heels over the end then falling backwards and down. Ed was next and while he really wanted to do it, his innate caution made him torn as has been the case before. He got as far as standing backwards on the edge of the plank which was very good, a lot of people don't even get that far, but in the end he just couldn't bring himself to lean back and so came back. This was despite all our encouragement and the great coaxing from Josh the guy in charge. Tash even came up to try and be persuasive. Then it was my turn. I was a bit more hesitant than Tash in getting to the end of the plank, but once there held on and leant back. The worst feeling was that the harness was going to pull very jerkily and rick my back, but the pull was smooth and I was lowered tot he ground. Tash liked it so much she did it again in place of Ed, though I do think much of the fear is the unknown and the second time would be easier than the first. The worst part of it all was the ride back up the chairlift to the top as by now the rain was torrential and we ended up getting wet. Once up the top we de-harnessed and went for a hot chocolate. We had luge ride tickets but weren't sure whether to do it. We gave it a while, buying some jelly beans from the jelly bean store, but it didn't clear up so Ed and I decided to do a luge to say we had done it. The track was much longer than the Queenstown one, probably taking 5 minutes to get down. We got even wetter going down and the track was running with water like a river at times and braking needed a lot of pulling on the lever. We were pretty wet and got wetter going up the chairlift again, but decided to do one more ride on the intermediate track to say we had done both available (the advanced was shut). We got even wetter on this, my trousers were soaked through to my pants, but at least we did it!

    We got the Gondola down and bought our pack of photos taken on the way up (The Queenstown photo had been poor as the kids couldn't be seen). The beauty of the Campervan came into play now as we could all get chnaged out of our wet clothes before driving to the campsite. This was only ten minutes away and we found our spot but immediately drove nack to the McDonald's we had seen a couple of kilometres away as this was Tash's choice for birthday tea. The rain continued to pound down and we had intended to go to the hot pools in the camp (they are outdoor) but decided to postpone until another night. The TV remarkably worked not too badly despite the weather and we settled in to watch the Voice Australia again.
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