Tim Roxborogh on the joys of moaning about your holiday
Why doesn't Rotorua have an incredible water park?
Rotorua seems to have everything except the one thing I'd most expect it to have: a ripsnorter of a waterpark with dozens of hydroslides. This has always seemed odd to me: the most tourist-centric area in the North Island — a place that also happens to be in geothermal wonderland — doesn't have a proper waterpark.
I'm not talking about aquatic centres with their gyms, 50m pools and one or two slides. These exist up and down the country and some of them — including Rotorua's Aquatic Centre — are very good. A new slide is reportedly in the works there and they even have an indoor lazy river. But as well put together as this community complex is, it's not a tourist attraction.
With Waiwera (north of Auckland) lying derelict and its big rival from the 80s and 90s, Parakai Hot Springs (northwest of Auckland), remaining locked in a time-warp from its decades-ago heyday, Rotorua's lack of an international-standard waterpark is New Zealand's lack of an international-standard waterpark.
From Texas to Queensland, from Malaysia to Vietnam, from Guatemala to Canada, I've made a habit out of visiting waterparks wherever I go. Indeed, rumours have swirled for years that the main reason I became a travel writer was to facilitate my obsession with hydroslides. Now whether this is true or not, there are few pleasures greater in this life than a full day spent flying through giant tubes in your togs.
Escape theme park in Penang, Malaysia, is as spectacular as any I've seen and it's about to get even better with the opening of the longest hydroslide in the world, a 1140m beauty that begins at a height of 78m. Now I'm not suggesting New Zealand — and Rotorua in particular — has to try and outdo this, but as Rotorua's where you go to do zip-lining, luge-ing, bungy-ing, Zorbing, shweebing (Google it), jet-boating, rafting, kayaking, trekking, mountain-biking and of course, soaking, well then why not a bit of swishing and splashing too?
The burning of the Amazon — don't get hung up on old photos
I've always wanted to go to Brazil. The combination of beaches, jungle, cities and culture have long made it one of the most enticing, exotic destinations anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, Brazil is in the news for all the wrong reasons because of the raging fires in the Amazon, arguably the single most pressing environmental issue facing the planet today.
Since word of the fires first started attracting worldwide headlines, I've been really bugged by the concerted blowback from those who don't have environmental matters high on their list of concerns. Defenders of Brazil's far-right President Bolsonaro have fixated on the widespread sharing of a 16-year old photo of Amazonian bush fires by people such as French President Macron, as if this somehow discredits the horrors of the present-day situation.
It's the same as if Mt Ruapehu erupted again and a photo from the previous eruption was mistakenly used, does that then mean the present eruption never happened?
The point is, the mere usage of an older photo discredits the current story only if it's fundamentally different and misleading from what you're trying to say now. Given up-to-the-minute satellite imagery is proving just how severe the devastation across Brazil is, a 16-year old photo of precious rainforest being ravaged by fire isn't misleading in the slightest.
Besides, we shouldn't get distracted from the point Macron and so many others are making: the Amazon is the "lungs of the world".
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com.