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Word Travels - Behind the Scenes in Rotorua by Robin Esrock
Behind the Scenes in Rotorua
by Robin Esrock / Published April 15 2008
Super GonzoNine countries in ten weeks across six continents and you start to lose your mind a little.  What I needed was a good boost of adrenaline, and New Zealand didn't disappoint.   I was here a couple years ago, and knew that Rotorua, located in the North Island, would provide plenty to keep me busy.

It's all about having fun, even when you pack in so many activities in just a few days. But I was always aware that given the cost of these activities, there would be slim chance I'd be able to do even half of them if I wasn't a travel writer.  The job might not pay well, but no one can argue with the perks. 

To congratulate the team for surviving our journey, I decided to treat everyone to a skydive.  Even Julia.   Fortunately for her, the weather played havoc the last couple days, gusting strong winds and rain, and nature decided that jumping out of a plane would have to wait for next time.   Of all the thrill sports I've done these last couple years, jumping out a plane at 15,000ft takes pole position.  

I was a little hesitant to try the haka.  South Africa and New Zealand are fierce rugby rivals, and I grew up fearing and respecting the infamous Maori war dance.   And here I was, smacking my chest and shaking my hands like the best of them.  No wonder New Zealand are such a good team. After doing the haka, you feel pumped up enough to kill someone (or at least make a good tackle).

I got myself a double page spread with my Rotorua adventures, in what I called the Great Gonzo Blowout.   It ran in a couple papers, and no doubt anyone who read thought:  Wow, I'd love to do that - and - what a lucky bastard.   Less lucky was a woman who was killed sledging the same river a couple weeks later.  There's always risk when it comes to these things, but folks in New Zealand are notoriously good at managing them.  

On a final note, there is nothing heartier than a solid New Zealand meat pie.  Long may they rule.

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