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May 10, 2006

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                      Rotorua, NZ

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G’day mate! That’s right: I made it back to Australia! How lucky am I? But before I write about Melbourne let’s finish off where we left last week, at the exclusive Treetops Lodge on the North Island of Rotorua.

As you read in last week’s newsletter (here’s a link to our archives), Treetops has it all! Guests really don’t need to leave the 2,500-acre property unless they’e looking for some over-the-top adventure, and Treetops can arrange even that. The most exciting tour begins with a pickup by the local helicopter company, Helipro. They pick you up in one of their sweet helicopters on Treetops’ landing pad. You can choose from a number of different tours. I took Mount Tarawera. We flew over spectacular volcanic crater lakes before landing on 3,680-foot high Mount Tarawera, a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1886. Once on the ground, we walked to the Mount Tarawera lookout. The views were incredible, but the path was a tad hairy -- especially for those (like me) with a fear of heights. Instead of going back to the lodge we flew to Lake Tarawera, passing breathtaking waterfalls along the way before landing on a beach next to a 50-foot yacht. Helipro (tel.: 64-7-357-2512) offers an array of tours, including a city flight that takes only 8 minutes and costs $85.00 NZD ($53 USD).

Talk about feeling like a rock star: We went from a sleek helicopter to a 50-foot luxury power catamaran in 30 steps. For a second there I felt like I was Puff Daddy, but when I didn’t see 50 bikini-clad women -- that’s how many the boat holds -- I realized I was still me. Lake Tarawera is a huge, calm, deep and clear lake filled with an abundance of rainbow trout. I tried to catch one deep trolling, but after 10 minutes my ADHD kicked in and I moved on to the next activity: swimming. The surface water temperatures range from 53 F (the winter low) to 71 F (in the summer). However, there are beaches where the natural thermal waters spew out, making it too hot to go in. Instead of swimming in the lake, the captain took us to a popular hot spring just a short walk through the woods. A bunch of people of all ages just sat there, soaking in the warm water. After enjoying ourselves we had a late lunch, then drove an hour by carback to the lodge. Clearwater Charters.

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Pictures From

The Trip


Volcano Tour


Getting Dropped Off




Lake Tarawera


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