After polishing off our ginger beers at Hobbiton and leaving the bucolic hobbit holes to their New Zealand evening, we all piled into the cars (me into my compact Toyota; everyone else into the giant people-mover) and drove to Rotorua, where we would be staying for the rest of the week.
Rotorua is a smallish town about three hours to the south east of Auckland. It sits in a valley at the edge of a large lake, and on top of a land literally bubbling with volcanic activity. My colleague Elle, who is from New Zealand, warned me Rotorua would stink of sulfur gases — and it did! But fortunately we had rented a large house on top of a hill on the outskirts of town, which helped us get up and into some fresher air.
The house was perfect for our group of ten. Heather, Kevin, and the five kids laid claim to the upstairs bedrooms, with their proximity to laundry, bathtubs, and the kitchen. Taryn, Karl, and I got the downstairs rooms, with our own bathroom, a spare living room, and the hot tub.
I got the bunk-bed room, which the kids all thought was the coolest, and which turned out to be probably the best room for sleeping in the house. It only had a tiny window and a small skylight, which made it gloriously dark. And it was tucked into the back corner, into the hill, so I didn’t have any noise from people walking (or children rough-housing, or birds chirping) above me upstairs.
Having arrived on New Year’s Eve, our first task was to stock up on food and supplies for an army of ten before the stores shut down. We left Kevin at the house with the kids, and Heather, Taryn, Karl and I headed out to the grocery store to stock up. It’s amazing how different the grocery cart looks when you’re shopping for five kids rather than one adult!!
The house ended up being a very comfortable base of operations for the week. The common areas were spacious and comfortable; I don’t think we ever felt cramped or like we were on top of each other. They were perfect for hanging out, or napping, or enjoying an impromptu Irish dance concert from the nine-year-old.