222-01.png

MIKYLA MARIE MANU

My travels, thoughts, memories, and love all in one place. Life documented as a twenty-something.

ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND

ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND

I grew up watching every single episode of Gilmore Girls. Dang, I loved that show! And I am happy to announce to all my Gilmore Girl fans here that I have found the real Stars Hollow and it just so happens to be Rotorua, New Zealand.

But for reals, Rotorua is absolutely perfect in every way possible. From the second I stepped off the plan from Fiji, New Zealand has had my heart. Granted I think one reason I have loved New Zealand so immediately is the fact it is Fall time here right now. And if you know anything about me you know I soak up Fall time. The air is so crisp, clean and brisk, the leaves are beautiful and crunchy, and everything is right in the world.

The official first day in Rotorua was Sunday. We started out the day going to the ward there. The relief society lesson given was phenomenal. You know how sometimes the lesson is exactly what you've been needing to hear and the teacher is truly speaking directly to your soul? Well this was one of those times. It just goes to show the faith of the members and how true the Church is even internationally. I am so lucky and blessed to be a member of the LDS gospel.

After church the girls and I walked around Rotorua. We did a bit of window shopping, talked to some locals (everyone is beyond nice), had sushi, and ate the most delicious ice cream from Lady Jane. Guys, Lady Jane knows what she is doing because this ice cream was even better than anything I have had in Europe. I'm not going to say I had a double scoop of ice cream but I'm not going to say I didn't so...

The next day was a full day full of business visits in Rotorua. In the morning some girls and I went for an early morning run down to the lake in Rotorua. I love running in every country I travel too, its an awesome way to explore parts of the city you would never see! We were able to discover a military grave site on the banks of the river that was stunning in the early morning mist. The day then began at the Agrodome learning more about the agriculture industry here in New Zealand. Honestly I was pleasantly surprised how much fun it was going to the Agrodome. I was able to get real close and personal with sheep and alpaca. It was both equally terrifying and great. Following the Agrodome we jetted off to the Skyline Luge. The Skyline Luge is the Alpine Slide on steroids. Here is the Skyline Luge in a nutshell - You start off taking a gondola to the top of a mountain. There they give you a helmet and a sled on wheels. From there you pick which run out of the four you want to go down and then you jump on your sled and follow the paved path down the mountain. The path leads you through the most beautiful forrest, under bridges, through tunnels and even has a few jumps along the way where you can catch some serious air. But the best part of the Skyline Luge is that they don't make you go down one at a time. You see New Zealand hasn't really caught onto the whole safety and risk management thing yet so they let how ever many people you want go down the path all at the same time so that you can race and bump into each other.

No kidding it is real life Mario Kart over there at the Skyline Luge.

After our Skyline Luge races we raced home just in time to start our night adventure with Tamaki Maori Village for a traditional Hangi dinner. The Tamaki Maori Village is similar to the Polynesian Culture Center in Hawaii. As a group we were able to go to the Tamaki Maori Village and learn more about the Maori culture as well as have a traditional feast. I was able to learn to dance using the poi balls and yikes is it hard. Mad respect for poi ball dancers.

The next day in Rotorua I was able to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set location for The Lord of the Ring films and The Hobbit films. I'm not

that

big of a nerd but like I totally enjoyed the tour! It was so neat to see how they scaled the different hobbit houses to create different size effects of the characters! Plus the site was absolutely beautiful. We did get caught in a rainstorm while at Hobbiton but luckily we were able to go into the Green Dragon and warm up to some warm drinks by the fire. The rest of the day was spent driving to Waitomo. Quite frankly Rotorua has been wonderful. I have fallen in love New Zealand - the Maori culture, the scenery, the people, the food. Its all so great. You can't go wrong with New Zealand people! xx, m.

WAITOMO & HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND

WAITOMO & HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND

SUVA, FIJI

SUVA, FIJI