Day 8 - Pauanui to Rotorua
28.02.2013 - 28.02.2013 24 °C
Margy, Colleen and Michael presented Sue with sticky bun complete with singing candle (which didn't work - cheap $2.00 shop! - so we had to sing!) and a gift box of possum poo at breakfast. Tour leader, Sally, made sure everyone knew it was her birthday by presenting her with a nice Scenic Tours card and gift of Manukau honey. 9:30 start to the day with a trip back west over the Coramandel range/forest inland to Kopu and then south on highway 26 down the Waihu River valley to Paeroa. Don't know why we didn't go down the west coast through Whangamata and Tauranga but guess that will be revealed in the fullness of time. Paeroa is the origin of the famous L & P soft drink. Which is a local mineral water to which they have added a touch of lemon. Now owned/bottled by Coca Cola. (World famous in New Zealand). qWe are encouraged to try the kiwi treat of mince and cheese pie with a bottle of L & P.
The Waikato is the heart of the dairy industry ($20 billion). Production has been increasing by 10% per year for a decade but this year the drought has led to a 1% decrease. NZ has had great success since the demise of ag subsidies thirty years ago by developing new markets for dairy products in Asia; particularly middle class China. Chocolate cheese anyone.
Lamb roast lunch at a working dairy (180 acres/240 cows) at Mata Mata (now better known as Hobbiton because nearby is the hill that Peter Jackson used to create the hobbit village). The farm Longlands (apart from the dairy shed) is a model farm with hedges around each of the seven paddocks used for rotational grazing. Family now run the restaurant and dairy is share farmed. Could one make a living out os a 240 head dairy farm in Aus these days? Area also big thoroughbred area. Current and past wealth evident in the real estate. Everything very 'nice' looking.
After lunch and a chat with the two resident black Labradors we continued on to Rotorua. Had our group photo taken out the front before a guided tour of the Rotorua museum which began life as a thermal health spa or Bath. Built in Tudor style was opened in 1908 but was never really completed until refurbishment in recent times. The treatments were very popular with visitors from all over the world. Many soldiers came after the wars looking for relief from all sorts of complaints. Mud baths, mineral baths and electro massage were popular. With increasingly high maintenance costs and a decline in the popularity of such treatments the building was no longer used for this purpose and slowly fell into disrepair with use for dance cabarets and nightclubs adding further insult and damage to the beautifully carved timbers and marble statues. Now a historical museum, art gallery and cultural museum.
Checked into our Novotel overlooking the lake and walked the streets of Rotorua before finishing our day at the Irish pub for a Guiness and fillet steak and chips. What more could a girl ask for on her birthday.