My original itinerary called for a bus ride from Rotorua to Wellington, which takes about 8 hours. I decided that was too much time to waste on a bus when there is other fun stuff to do in Rotorua, and friends to meet in Wellington. So I booked a flight and only spent 1 hour in transit.
The new schedule freed up some time in the morning, so I hopped a shuttle over to Skyline Skyrides for some luge rides. The luge is a small cart you sit on and the track is cement; nevertheless it was a huge amount of fun and I wound up buying 5 rides. The tracks had very little in the way of a retaining wall - someone could easily steer straight and go sailing right off the edge of the hill. On the other hand, this meant the views were pretty good throughout the ride!
Ready to luge!
After arriving in Wellington, I walked around the central business district and then hiked up to the top of Mt. Victoria for a spectacular view of the area. Two scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed on Mt. Victoria - I successfully found both of them, and also managed to hit a geocache.
I met up with two friends who relocated here in April, Allen and MaryBeth. They helped me find the geocache and the spot where the Dunharrow scene was filmed. Honestly, I don't remember that scene from the movie, but the guide book I have includes GPS coordinates, and shows a picture which is instantly recognizable. Now I guess I need to rewatch the movies to look for the Dunharrow scene. The other scene I found was the "Get Off The Road" scene where Frodo listens for the approaching ringwraith.
I'm staying over at Allen and MaryBeth's apartment, which is a nice break from the backpacker hostels I've been in so far. Those haven't been bad, my only complaint was about the one in Auckland which allowed smoking in the lobby - that one was a bit grimy. But the one in Rotorua (Planet Nomad) was spotless and didn't allow smoking anywhere in the facility. The hostels are fine, and I'd rather spend my money on tours/activities or better food than a fancy room.
Norfolk Pine Tree
Windy Wellington Mural
Wellington from Mt. Victoria