Like most voyages, the hardest days of this trip are the first and the last. It may only be a 3hr plane trip across the Tasman but the travel times to, from and at the airports are arduous.
A 4.30am check in meant a very early start for everyone and so by the time we landed in Auckland at midday NZ time, the kids were already weary. Getting through customs can also be a nightmare with such a large group and there’s usually at least one small hold up. This time it was a couple of apples (that thankfully made the bin before the sniffer dog found them) and some farm shoes that needed fumigating. Nevertheless we survived the journey without any tears, not single vomit and only 3 retreats for a) Sarah’s left behind jumper, b) my left behind handbag, c) Jacinta’s left behind duty free. By the time we’d picked up our rentals, it was almost 3pm before we hit the road to Rotorua. After a quick pitsop for KFC refueling at Matamata, we pulled into Waiteti just on 6.30. Luckily our evening activity was a swim at the Polynesian Pools – just what was needed to iron out the travel kinks.
(Almost) everyone was up bright and early this morning to go to the Skyline Gondola & Luge. This is always one of the most popular activities on camp. The ride up on the gondola takes you to the start of 3 different luge tracks that then take you, at varying speeds, down the mountain where you pick up a chairlift to get to the top and start all over again.
Some of the kids enjoy the scenic track, most like racing down the fast track - especially the teachers and the dads! By lunchtime there are wondrous tales of spills, over takings and near misses. Luckily there were no lasting injuries, just a few trophy sized bruises and dented prides! A few kids also tried out the Skyswing, a terrifying apparatus that swings , from great height, accompanied by screams of horror, out beyond the edge of Mt Ngongotaha and back again.
After lunch taking in the beautiful view of Lake Rotorua, it was off to the NZ centre for rescue and release of native raptors. We’ve been members of Wingspan for a long time now and always bring the kids to see the birds in training while we’re here. Debbie and her team do an amazing job with injured and orphaned raptors, training them with a lure to build their skills to a stage where they can be released back into the wild. We were lucky that we were amongst the only people at today’s flight display so most of the kids got to handle the raptors themselves.
Back at camp it was time to test the stamina of the creek swimmers. The creek is crystal clear and brimming with koura and trout – it’s also freezing cold!. This lot didn’t last long before they were out and into the showers.
Tonight the exhaustion of yesterday’s travel was beginning to take its toll, so dinner of BBQ, potato bake & chocolate, self saucing pudding (for 35, ably created on one half working stove and a BBQ in the dark) and into bed.