We mistakenly made our way to Rotorua thinking it was close to the Waitomo Caves and that it would be a good base to explore from. Sadly, we were wrong… We bused from Hobbiton to Rotorua to then go to the caves, while the caves were actually much closer to Hobbiton. I beat myself a bit on the head for this since, when I travel, I really dislike spending unnecessary time in transit.
We couldn’t go to the caves upon arriving in Rotorua (we could only go the next day), so we decided to explore the village. Now I wouldn’t qualify this place, despite how touristy it is, as being welcoming. I’m not sure if we just arrived on a bad day.
First, Wifi was not accessible. Every free hotspot seemed to be down. Then, I tried to stop at a restaurant and buy a coffee (I didn’t even want a coffee) just to be able to access Internet, to sort out an accommodation problem in order to finally put down my heavy bag. The restaurant staff insisted I needed to buy a full dinner to be able to check my emails. It was three in the afternoon, needless to say I was not going to buy dinner yet. So I decided to move on, really wondering in which alien place I had just landed. I could understand if the connection was bad, had to buy a coffee to use the Internet or had to plain out buy Internet time, but I had never heard about having to buy a complete meal in the middle of the afternoon to gain access. This seemed more alien to me than the town just not having Internet at all.
What really got me though, was the reaction of a patron of that restaurant. She kept checking her purse, not bothering to hide the fact that she thought we’d try to have a go at it and steal it. I have rarely been this humiliated in my life. Yet, I swallowed everything that went through my head, I didn’t want any trouble. I think I will always hold a certain amount of despise for this unknown woman who did not even have the decency to attempt to hide her contempt, simply because I had a backpack rather than a suitcase on wheels. It’s not easy being on the receiving end of preconceptions…
By this point, I was ready to leave this unwelcoming place behind. That’s when I found the backpacker hostel “Cactus Jack”. For little money you could buy a relatively good amount of high speed Internet. We ended up renting a private room, which was not too expansive. We dropped our bag and already we were feeling a little bit better, knowing we had a place to sleep for the night and to store our luggage as we went about.
Despite this bad start, we did manage to make the most of it and went not only to the Waitomo Caves, but also to a Maori dinner experience and to the thermal springs named Hell’s Gate. You will be able to read about it soon.