When my father and Gene returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand, they talked about a jet boat ride they had taken and how much fun it had been. Thus, this was one of the first tours we booked before we even left Minneapolis.
Our tour bus took us to the town of Te Puke, home to the Longride Park. We were divided into small groups and boarded a van that would take us to the boat. We signed the release forms, received our life vests and ponchos and boarded the ten-passenger boat. We were told that the back of the boat would get the wettest and before I knew it, Jon and I were sitting right there, on the very back row. The driver informed us of the rules; no standing, keep all body parts inside the boat, hang on to the rail in front of us, and watch to see when the driver would raise his arm because this meant that we would be making a 360 degree turn.
With that, as our ship’s captain would say, the driver put “medal to the petal” and away we went into a canyon that was lush with greenery on either side. With the wind blowing into our faces, we raced down the river, made our 360-degree turns, got wet and stopped as we approached a series of rapids. The driver turned the boat around and we made our return trip, at a much faster pace. We made more 360-degree turns, slid from side to side on our seats and were laughing as our trip ended.
After a half hour break for refreshments at which we were served the most delicious, hot kiwi muffins, we climbed into a van and headed for the kiwi fruit farm. Along the way we saw the avocados and walnuts that are also harvested at this farm and the kauri tree, which is protected in New Zealand.
|one silly kiwi|
|two silly kiwi|
We learned that much of the countryside surrounding Tauranga is horticultural land, used to grow a wide range of fresh produce, but particularly known for tangelos and kiwi.We stopped in one of the orchards and were told that there are gold and green varieties of kiwi and that the fruit originated from a gooseberry that was brought to New Zealand from China. As we gazed at the hundreds of pieces of fruit resting on the vines, it was explained that the water, sun and volcanic soil all contribute to the richness of this fruit and the entire "Bay of Plenty".
Returning to our ship, the afternoon was spectacular and as we gazed upon the water we could only describe it as, shimmering.
Leaving port we has the opportunity to see some of the beaches that are common in this area. What a beautiful and fun day this has been!