We had to be out of the house in Rotorua by 10:30am (though, because of priorities (kiwis!) and a mix-up in Kevin’s notes, it ended up being closer to 11am) but we didn’t need to be in Auckland for flights and cruise ships until early evening. None of us wanted to waste the extra hours, so we piled into the cars with all our luggage and went looking for adventure.
Across the valley from where we had stayed, there was a gondola that took people up to the top of the mountain. From there you had terrific views, an expensive restaurant, and a “luge” track that ran down the back of the mountain. We figured that we had just enough time to ride the gondola up, do one spin through the luge track, and then ride the gondola back down and grab a quick bite at McDonalds before needing to hit the road to Auckland. Perfect!
The gondola ride was scenic and smooth, and at the top of the hill we found bins of multicolored helmets and a line to wait in.
The three littlest kids were too small to ride by themselves, and there were only two parents. Three-year-old Norah solved the problem by declaring instantly that she wanted to ride with me! Which absolutely made my day and seemed to suggest that good uncling skills may not require blood relation to succeed…
Norah and I climbed into our luge (which was actually more of a gravity-powered go-cart) and hurtled gently down the hill, with Norah gleefully urging ever greater speed and self trying very hard not to crash with a child that was not my own. From the base of the track a chair lift took us back to the top of the hill so that we could catch the gondola back to the parking lot.
Naturally there were cameras placed strategically across the course to capture candid moments and sucker the grown-ups into spending way too much money for a print. Normally I don’t go in for that sort of thing, but this one was just too good to resist. I bought the print and gave it to Norah (who treasured it, at least through lunch) and thought the digital copy would be a perfect final photo for our last adventure in New Zealand.