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