Weekend at the family bach

Upon completion of the first week at a new job and a 10,000 word paper, a trip out to the “family bach” is what the doctor ordered.  Just over a month ago, our friends, Mark and Laurel, moved out to Tauranga, a beautiful city at the base of Mt. Maunganui and along the Bay of Plenty, about 2.5 hours from Auckland.  Mark and Laurel are set up in a gorgeous condo here, which is affectionately referred to as “Hotel Koslowski” or the “family bach.”

Mark and Laurel were incredibly gracious hosts; they made us a delicious array of food, including Mark’s legendary fajitas, kept cold drinks in our hands, and even let us do our laundry at their place.  It was wonderfully comforting to be in the company of our friends again.

As soon as we set foot in the hot tub, all of the week’s stresses began to melt away.

On Saturday, we made a day trip out to Rotorua, a popular tourist destination about an hour south of Tauranga.  One way to be sure you’re in Rotorua is, undoubtedly, its smell.  Rotorua’s abundant geothermal activity (hot pools, geysers, mud pools, etc.) results in large amounts of sulphur compounds being released, resulting in the sometimes overwhelmingly strong smell of rotten eggs.   The scent of Rotorua wasn’t enough to send us away too soon, though, as there was much to explore within this geothermal hotspot.

A relaxing hike through the Whakareware Forest filled with stunning Redwood trees you can’t even attempt to wrap your arms around was first on the agenda.

Next on our list:  Bubbling mud pools.

Bubbling mud is surprisingly quite pricy to view, but we were directed by the local tourist centre to a nearby park, where we could see bubbling mud for free.  The easiest way to track down some bubbling mud is to follow your nose.  The pungent smell of rotten eggs is particularly strong near pools of bubbling mud.  Bubbling mud of all consistencies was viewed. Personally, I enjoyed the more viscous mud, which made louder noises as the steaming, sulfurous gasses bubbled out of the thick, grey goo.

Rotorua also has lots to offer as far as extreme sporting and thrill-seeking activities go.  We were treated by our friends to the ultimate Rotorua luge experience.

After a scenic ride up the gondola, we suited up in our helmets, hopped onto go-karts, and went cruising down the Rotorua hillside.

It was pretty much like a real-life Mario-Kart experience, without the ability to throw shells or the worry of slipping on banana peels.

Three paved tracks wind through the hillside of Redwood trees, giving you the option to choose a beginner, intermediate, or advanced track.  Mel stuck to intermediate route, but Brendon, Mark, and Laurel tackled the advanced.

Laughter, minor scrapes, and great memories resulted.  Mark took his camera down with him, and you can view the footage from the final lap here.

A hike up “The Mount”, otherwise known as Mt. Maunganui, on Sunday was refreshing and breathtaking.  The climb took just just under a half hour, and yielded views that were absolutely incredible. 

The city of Tauranga encompasses the picturesque beach town of Mt. Maunganui, which lies just at the base of The Mount.  With a lush strip of white beach fading endlessly into the distance, and Pacific waters to provide excellent surf on most occasions, tourists flock to it in the summertime. 

The gorgeous stretch of beach located right next to the towering Mount is truly a sight to behold, and gives Mt. Maunganui our vote for the most stunning NZ beach town we have yet to visit. 

We left the family bach feeling rejuvinated and with our spirits lifted.  A weekend of good friends, beautiful sights, luging, and soothing waters was exactly what we needed.

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