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ACTIVITIES AT TREETOPS
As you can see, when it comes to activities Treetops has it all. To begin with, there are over 47 miles of hiking trails. Some lead to incredible
vantage points. My two favorite tours were the Maori Indigenous Food Trail and horseback riding with Didi.
MAORI INDIGENOUS FOOD TRAIL
The Maori Indigenous Food Trail takes about 2 Ĺ hours. Itís a very easy, mellow walk through the woods
where Charles P.T. Royal, a Maori and New Zealandís 2003 Innovative Chef of the Year, teaches
guests which plants can and cannot be eaten. New Zealand has the greatest variety of ferns in the world -- over 200
-- but only 7 are edible. Charles taught us all about the indigenous herbs and plants. He said the only things in the New Zealand forest that will hurt you are bees and needles. Phew! I was so relieved there are no snakes in this country, and only one poisonous spider (itís not found in this region). Another interesting tidbit is that newborn fern fronds are called "the koru." This Maori name symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace. It is a major symbol in Maori carving and tattoos, and is also the symbol on Air New Zealandís tail.
BRIDAL VAIL FALLS
The highlight came when we
reached the Bridal Vail waterfall. This 80-foot cascade was one of -- if not the most -- beautiful acts of nature I have ever seen. It really canít be described, only experienced. It was absolutely amazing! There we set up camp for lunch. I knew it would be an interesting meal when Ian, a Treetops staff member, started chopping
logs in half for the appetizer, and pulling huhu grubs (worm larva) from the wood. I passed on eating these high- protein worms
raw. But as you can see in the video below, after Charles sautťed
them so deliciously
with pikopiko (New Zealand fiddlehead fern) and on rewana (bread), it was too difficult to say no. We washed them down with Taakawa beer. The main course was salmon smoked in horopito with manuka honey and kararengo (seaweed). Maori Indigenous Food Trail
starts at $185 NZ ($115 USD) an hour.
HORSEBACK RIDING WITH DIDI
Now for one of my Top 10 travel experiences of all time. Treetops employs a man named Didi Rice. Didi is half Maori, with European blood, and is a real character. Heís also a horse whisperer. When I signed up for this 2-hour ride I had no idea what I
was in store for. Didi
took me on an exciting, jaw-dropping tour
of the Treetops property. Although my sister Carol has always had horses Iíve never felt entirely
comfortable, especially going down steep hills and over rivers
took me on. But the combination of Didiís knowledge and the sheer beauty of this property made the ride truly unforgettable. To make it even more exciting, we were riding during "elk in heat season." These guys were monsters, and would not stop howling! Didi explained how these elk were busy rounding up as many hinds (female red deer) as possible. It was like watching something out of National Geographic as they lined all their girls up, and chased all the horny loser stags away. If these elk could write a book it would be an instant bestseller. On the way back
to the lodge a huge elk was blocking our trail home. Fortunately we were on horseback so they didnít charge us -- otherwise I would have became an instant cowboy. Yee haw! Along the way we rode by water buffalo, pheasants, peacocks, wild pigs, even trout.
TREETOPS LODGE Treetops, 351 Kearoa Road, RD1, Horohoro, Rotorua, New Zealand; tel.:64-7-333-2066; email: email@example.com. Rates begin at $490NZD ($308 USD) per person and include breakfast, dinner and cocktail hour.
Hereís a 2-minute Johnny Jet Video of my trip down to Treetops. The activities at the end of the video will be explained in detail in next weekís newsletter. BTW: With high-speed the video takes about one minute to load; with dial-up, please allow up to three weeks.
NEXT WEEK Next week we finish up with some incredible activities, including a helicopter landing on a volcano and zorbing! Find out what the heck zorbing is, and the country where I am now. Hint: Iíve been here many times before, but never to this particular place (itís the countryís second largest city).
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SOME OF LAST WEEK'S READER AIR-eMAIL
I just have to tell you how grateful I am for your efforts. I've been receiving your weekly e-mail for some months now and am so pleased to be able to access your personable and informative information. The one downside to receiving your great communication is that I am envious that you get to hop planes and explore the world on a weekly basis. :) In all seriousness, keep up the great work by giving us travel buffs a weekly fix for life around this intriguing planet we call home. Sincerely, Dan Sakaue - Renton, WA
Are you going to Queenstown? It's on the top three list of my favorite cities in the world so I hope you go there so I can see pictures and reminisce. It's great for adventure sports so I'm hoping it's on your list of places you'll be going! Christine L Ė Washington D.C.
Love the new look of the site Ė it feels like a complete renovation Ė a lot of paint, some structural stuff, but at the heart of it all, all the right stuff. I am actually planning a trip to Auckland later this year, so this weekís newsletter was very timely! Ken P Ė San Diego, CA
Just saw your column and video. Can see why you REALLY loved business class--the babe behind you... TB- Toledo, OH
I especially like how you tell something of the history of the country, etc. I figure travel isn't about night life, etc., booze is booze in whatever country, don't need to leave home for such activities. I had planned to do international travel upon retirement but health reasons have delayed that so I've enjoyed traveling vicariously through your ventures. David B - Fremont, Nebraska
Your NZ newsletter is well-written and very informative. Thank you. Mort
Great newsletter, makes me want to jump on an Air New Zealand jet immediately. I look forward to more interesting information on the trip. Thanks and keep up the great articles.
Kristen L. - West Linn, Oregon
Hereís a tip: When trying Travelocity, try saying your dates are flexible, even if they're not. When the calendar comes up, just put in exactly what you need, and SOMETIMES you get a better deal than putting your exact dates in on the home page. Nance - Chicago
Hey Johnny: As usual, I thoroughly enjoy your travels; however, I was blown away by your statement about driving in NZ: "they do use the WRONG SIDE of the road." Do you mean "they drive on the OPPOSITE SIDE of the road?" Reminds me of when so many Americans go to England (among other places) where they drive on the "wrong side" (aka opposite side) of the road. Who determines what side is the wrong/opposite side? Thought by now you would have gotten it straight! Gloria Tz - Milwaukee, WI. REPLY: Much better terminology! We made the change: www.JohnnyJet.com/folder/archive/archive.html. P.S. Don't forget to tell your family, friends and colleagues to sign up to our free Johnny Jetís Travel News, Tips and Stories newsletter -- and to use our " Booking Buddy" search engines when booking travel.
You have to visit KeriKeri (Cradle of the Nation) and places further North in Northland, like the Hokinaga area, great fish chip shop there, and I mean great. This part gives you the feeling of what New Zealand is all about, and if you go into to KeriKeri then go visit Kannzamaan on the way in which is a lovely gallery owned by Julia Ritchie -yes I know I have known her for years and she has led a very interesting life. Donít miss this part of the North Island, this is New Zealand - Russell is nice but commercialized. Nick Tetlow - Santa Rosa,
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