Friday 17 May 2019

Not dancing in the dark - much more fun than that

One of the many enjoyable things about working in the travel industry is that even when you're at something as intense and focused as the annual exhibition/conference, there's a lot of fun to be had. I'm sure other types of business do junkets, but I suspect most of them are ostensibly anyway worthy team-building exercises and suchlike. Not us. In tourism it's all about showing people a good time, ideally better than the other suppliers. 
So this week I've been to a couple of parties at the Blue Baths, which were built in 1933 and feature geothermally heated fresh water in an outside pool. There used to be an indoor deep diving pool too, but it's been covered over and is now used for functions like our two. The first one was good, but the second was brilliant - lots of atmospheric theatre smoke drifting about in arty lighting, and an actual theme: earth, air, fire and water. The food stations were in on it - despite the lure of the seafood, the best dish by far were the pulled pork bites with crackling, of which I had far more than my share. The entertainment fitted the themes too. At various points during the evening, groups of local performers emerged out of the shadows to dance for us, and they were very good, especially the semi-traditional Māori haka, which was dramatic and spine-tingling - though the Parris Goebel-style hiphop was excellent too.
Best of all though, was the wind-up function on the last night up at the Skyline. This place is a must-do for any tourist to Rotorua, and I've been there a number of times - but never at night, and never when everything was FREE! We gondola-ed sedately up to discover the hugest feast I've ever encountered - honestly, it just went on and on, room after room. There was one room devoted entirely to cheese, and another to desserts - and it was all there for the taking! 
There was an accomplished DJ mixing her heart out, as well as a programme of live music that included Tiki Taane - so there was dancing (to observe) as well as the eating, the drinking, and the gazing out over the lights of Rotovegas below. Best of all, though, were the rides that people go up there for. First was the Skyswing, where three of us were strapped in and hauled up backwards 50m high. The one in the middle had the release button, which set us loose to zoom down at up to 150km/h in the dark, shrieking fit to bust. It was so much fun, and all over far too quickly for my stomach to organise itself into a protest.
Next I did the luge, choosing the scenic route solely because there were oysters and champagne halfway down. Even though it's the gentler route, you can still go pretty fast if you ignore the Slow signs, and in the dark it felt much faster anyway. There were indeed oysters and bubbles to enjoy, and I did, before remounting my luge to continue to the bottom. 
It was very pleasant, creaking slowly back up on the chairlift, listening to the music and watching the spotlit luge riders rumbling past underneath. Then I did the last activity, which was the zipline. It's 400m and again felt faster in the dark, so it was fun too - but not as exciting as the final thing, which I hadn't known about beforehand. When you get to the platform at the end of the zipline, you're instructed to step off backwards - in the dark - to do a 40m freefall to the bottom. That's freefall as in controlled abseil, naturally, but it did give me a moment's pause before I stepped into the void. Final thrill of the night!

So, well done TRENZ, and well done Rotorua - you're a great combination.

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