The last evening in NZ was spent playing football on the beach outside the Paraparaumu YH with the sunset as a back drop. Everyone was looking forward to coming home to the UK and UVHS and we arrived at Wellington airport all packed & ready to go. Unfortunately, there was a problem……….our flights were cancelled due to the Icelandic volcano. We were first given a new flight date of 2nd May which was later changed to 8th May. Not sure who was more shocked – pupils, parents or trip leaders.
Back at Paraparaumu YH a new plan was conceived. While we would contact everyone we could think of to try to fly earlier, there would be no point in staying in one place – we would all go stir crazy. A new itinerary was devised, YHs booked and off we set, north.
Our first stop was Taupo and we explored the natural hot springs in the local river. On Weds we went on the river rapids jet. This woke everyone up as we flew over the rapids and completed many 360 turns. Somehow we got much wetter than in the last river jet we had tried. This was followed by the short drive to Rotorua where we stayed 3 nights.
On arrival the Ulverston party visited Te Puia. We went on a tour of the active thermal area, past glooping pools of boiling mud and sulphurous springs. The nocturnal house contained 2 live kiwis – called Kia & Ora. This led us to NZ’s most spectacular geysers, the 10m Prince of Wales Feathers, and the biggest of them all, the 20m Pohutu (big splash). The highlight of the day was the evening show. This started with a Maori welcome and concert. Some of the girls tried the poi dance while the lads had a go at the Haka (some more successfully than others). We then had a feast of steam cooked food (Hangi), which went down very well, before finishing back at pohutu with hot chocolate.
On Thursday the pupils finally had a go at Zorbing – sitting in a huge plastic ball, with some water and being pushed down a hill!! Most of the adults didn’t fancy it and it was over all too quickly. This was followed by a trip to the Skyline Skyrides were we took the gondola up the mountain with superb views over Rotorua and the lake. Everyone took part in the luge (go-karts) with 3 tracks on offer. The scenic was by far the best as it was 2km long and gave riders the opportunity to race each other. Miss Evans minibus driving ability came to the fore as she overtook her opponent twice leaving him sprawled on the floor!
Our evenings were spent on the YH computers as pupils accessed the VLE on the uvlerston victoria high school website. Those with exams coming up were very keen to do some work. We also got in touch with Rotorua Boys HS and arranged to go in the following week to use their computers. This would be a cheaper option than the YH.
Our final day in Rotorua had two real highlights – the first being receiving confirmation from the insurance company of new flight dates for the whole group (6 to leave on Sunday 25th, and the remainder two days later on the Tuesday), and the second going mountain biking around some of the best forest tracks in the country. After a slow start everyone embraced this with enthusiasm. Meghan was the first to demonstrate her gymnastic ability with a forward roll over her handlebars. This was closely followed by Jonny demonstrating a side dismount at speed into the swamp! After a couple of hours through the forest, Nathan finished off the extra-bike activities with a quick excursion through the tree stumps.