34/64 in Rotorua

Jan 7, 2020. To avoid the trouble of the previous day, we got up early, and during the half-hour walk to the airport, kept an iPad open to Google Maps the whole time.

We went through a long tunnel that went right under the airfield.

At the airport, I kept expecting to go through security, but apparently there isn’t much for domestic flights. No stripping, no scanning, no getting sniffed by dogs. Not once did I show my passport or any form of ID for that matter. We just followed the signs to the boarding area with two full bottles of water in our packs. Lots of things in New Zealand just make sense.

Here we are, waiting to board at the gate. About 10 minutes before the flight, they call out the flight number. I realized later that there might only be one gate at the airport.
We had the honor of an exit row for the plane. The card shows how to operate the safety belt, but they don’t insult you by explaining it in the briefing. Things just make sense, here.
The flight was barely over an hour, but the service was amazing. The single flight attendant made 5 passes through the whole plane: water; coffee or tea; cookie (shown); lolly (=hard candy); and rubbish. By the time it was all served, we were ready to land.
Our cheery flight attendant, Madeline (she pronounced her name, “Meddle-in” or “Meddy”). It was quite refreshing to see crew that actually seemed happy, even excited, to be there. Maybe it’s normal in NZ, but it sure isn’t in America.
View out the window.

So we landed. Small airport, got our bag pretty quick. There was no information desk, but we were able to ask a rent-a-car person where we might catch a bus. She directed us to the end of the other building, which was actually not far.

No a soul in sight.

The bus came soon enough. We had heard that we could buy bus passes right on the bus, but the driver, Gordon, was out of them. He said never mind, just get on. I tried to give him cash, but he said don’t worry about it, welcome to New Zealand. He even printed us transfers to the #1 bus, which would take us to our destination, the Zoo close to our AirBnb. Along the way, he gave us a running commentary on how the city was set up. Turns out, he’s normally a tour bus driver, but was subbing for a regular city bus driver that got sick.

After walking a couple blocks to the Rainbow Springs Kiwi Center and Zoo.

At the center, the sign said to inquire about Senior rates. When we asked the cashier, Shane, how old we needed to be, he said he wouldn’t ask us our ages, but if we said we were seniors, we were. We got a fat 25% discount. We asked about lockers for hire so that we could store our suitcases. There were none, but he said he’d put them in the back room for us. Rotorua is like small-town America.

As is usual, there was no photography allowed in the Kiwi habitats, but we saw two running around and rooting in the leaves, bringing the total to 3 for this trip. We also learned that Kiwi used to be day hunters, but became nocturnal when non-native predators were introduced.

After the Kiwi Centre, we asked about catching the bus to our AirBnb. In theory we could have, but would have to walk halfway to the AirBnb just to catch the right bus, or else would have to take one bus for a few blocks, then wait again to transfer to another bus. Google said the walk was 15 minutes, which we decided to do. It took longer pulling two suitcases and with full packs on our backs. Rotorua, fortunately, has good wind, so the sun wasn’t overwhelming.
Addressing of the houses was tricky. They went 1, 2, 3, etc on one side of the road, but when we got to 64, there was a whole subdivision with that address. The houses went 1/64, 2/64, 3/64, and so forth, on the several branching drives within 64. It makes sense, if you read it “77 of lot 64,” not “77 out of 64 total.” My guess is that lots used to be quite large, and now, they can develop dense housing of a hundred or so homes on a single lot.

Merrianne was exhausted and just slept and snacked, rather than eating dinner.

I walked out and found a kebab place where the plates included meat (I chose lamb), salads, and rice. I tried to call Merrianne via Whatsapp, but she had set her phone on silent so that the camera wouldn’t have the picture snap sound. So I just got a small for $12.
After the fan and TV were unplugged, we had two AC outlets in a duplex receptacle in our room. But my laptop charger wass such that Merrianne’s charging brick wouldn’t fit at the same time, and neither would the Vodafone charger, even though it had a native NZ plug. We just had to schedule outlet use.

Our hosts are Christina and her husband, Bonnie. They’re from Zimbabwe, where Bonnie is a man’s name. He’s very social and welcoming. They take off shoes inside the house, just like Hawaiians. But there are a few quirks. They keep all doors closed in the house, even empty bathrooms, so you just have to try the handle to see if there’s someone in there. The 3 clocks that I saw – the microwave, stove, and living room – were all unset or way off – like 2.5 hours or so in one case. I set the microwave and stove for them.

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