November 27th, 2008 – by: Rubbertoe
Lake Rotorua and the city
Man, the $20 dollars for the Polynesian spa were certainly well spent. I had a cracking sleep and woke up without my usual backache, a great start to a busy day. Even better, the skies were clear and a radiant sun greeted my cave-man looks as I dived out of the boot of Betsy gasping for fresh air.
I planned to reach Wellington by the end of the month, so I decided to leave Rotorua and make it to Taupo by nightfall. Before my departure, there was one more tourist hot spot I wanted to check out: The Skyline Skyrides complex.
It is perched up on Mount Ngongotaha with spectacular panoramic views of Rotorua City and the Lake. You reach the complex via a pleasant gondola ride and once one the top there are plenty of activities to leave your wallet completely empty. One of these activities I read about is called the Sky Swing, but I couldn’t find any photos of it and in my mind I pictured another ride called the Canyon Swing in Queenstown (which I saw on someone else’s blog). Now the later of the two is a proper ‘twitchy bottom - I’d rather pass a kidney stone ��" did I make a will?’ kind of ride, so you can imagine how long it took me to decide whether to go for it or not. The problem was that I had to pay for it at the bottom of the gondola, without knowing what I was really getting myself into.
Sod it!! I flipped a coin… several time until I won and paid $50 for a package including the Gondola, the Sky Swing and two Luge rides (which I’ll talk about later).
Well, I got lucky. The ride turned out to be the same rig as one of those commercial inverted bungee I saw in Auckland and Singapore, but instead of shooting you up in the air, you swing forward. Basically they strap you down in a seat; the cage hangs between two high posts and it is slowly pulled back by 90 degrees until you are facing the ground, 50 metres up high; then you pull a strap and the cage swings just like a pendulum, reaching a speed of 120kph in less than a few seconds. It isn’t half as scary as what I had imagined, but still a good laugh, especially because you swing right over a cliff overlooking the entire valley.
I watched the video they took of me and decided not to buy it, first because they wanted another $30 (typical); and second because throughout the swing you can hear one loud and clear scream… a little word of 4 letters which I can’t repeat on a public blog, but I’m sure you can all guess!
The Luge ride is great fun too, much better value for money than the swing. You sit in a three wheel cart with a combined and instinctive steering/breaking mechanism (sounds trick but it is really easy to pick up), then you bomb down as fast (or slow) as you wish down one of three concrete tracks, winding through the redwood trees. I had two rides and if you haven’t been on one of these before they make you take the beginners track first… boooooring!! It’s quite long and not very steep, so your speed is limited. On my second ride I picked the advanced track and rocketed downhill faster than a squirrel with his tail on fire. The track is laid down really well and I just couldn’t help going faster and faster, until I went skidding into a tilted corner and ended up sideways on the bank, much to everyone’s amusement, sat on the sky lifts above me :-) They all cheered!
My fun morning at the Skyline complex was soon over. I got back down, grabbed Betsy’s steering and hit the road to Taupo.