This is supposed to be a travel blog and one thing’s for sure, there won’t be much traveling for a while. So I’ve decided to say a bit more about our February trip to New Zealand.

Let’s begin in Rotorua.

Back in the day, this North Island town was mostly known as a thermal area: geysers, bubbling mud pots, attractive mineral deposits. There was also a “grand old hotel” where tourists could experience a dinner show that offered some Maori-like foods (eel, anyone?) and experience Maori culture to the same depth that one can experience American Indian or Polynesian culture elsewhere.

There are some attractive lakes in the area, but attractive scenery can be found almost any place you stick a pin in a map of New Zealand, so that’s not a big reason to go to Rotorua.

So the local tourist industry started creating new reasons for people to visit. Some of these could have been plonked down anywhere on the planet. I’m lookin’ at you mini-golf, and you go-karts. Others give tourists an opportunity to see something they might not see elsewhere.

I guess I’d put our zip-lining trip in this category. Although zipping is a manufactured thrill, it’s a good thing any time you can get into the NZ forest.

With that in mind — did you know that there are redwood trees in New Zealand? I didn’t. To the extent that I thought about redwoods at all, I associated them with Northern California.

There are differences, due I think to climate. In California the trees grow slowly and consequently have quite hard wood. In the Redwood Memorial Grove in Rotorua the trees grow much more quickly, resulting in a softer wood that has been used for lumber.

While the chance to walk amongst a grove of redwoods might attract locals and some visitors, walking along platforms suspended in the trees really brings in the punters.

Better, you can visit at night and do it all over again with special effects.

Finally, you have to see this! Designed to be viewed from above, this is not a bug, it’s one of a series of light projections that included whales swimming by and a very active octopus.

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