The day after we got back from our Playcentre trip to Kawau Island, we took the kids on their first official Kiwi holiday (one not connected to traveling for Lonnie's work, and lasting longer than a weekend). We are thrilled to have many amazing places to see as well as much more vacation time than we had in the US. The trip included about 18 hours total of driving, lots of backpack time for the kids, and fabulous scenery.
Our first stop was Rotorua, the top tourist destination in New Zealand. Rotorua is an interesting place with natural beauty, including lakes, forests, volcanoes, and geothermal areas (similar to Yellowstone), mixed with Maori culture and a healthy dose of adventure tourism.
We chose to stay at a motor lodge that had a huge playground and, most importantly, farm animals that we knew the kids would enjoy. During the three hour drive to Rotorua, Max and Maya kept asking when we would get to the farm. They were thrilled with the friendly dalmation dogs, sheep (and 1 week old baby lamb), gigantic pig, alpaca, and little ponies. The cow wasn't intersted in socializing so I told them he was grumpy. They proceeded to talk about the grumpy cow for the next two days (Maya: "cow grumpy").
We enjoyed a nice early evening walk through the California redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest.
It has been a very wet winter, and we worried that planning a trip with lots of outdoor activities might backfire on us. Thankfully, we were able to have sunny skies at least for part of everyday of our trip. Have I mentioned that I see more rainbows in New Zealand than I have ever seen before?
More photos of our trip in the days to come....