December 29, 2007
So we’ve been away in Rotorua (not so affectionately called Rotovegas) and we’ve been doing the tourist thing. That’s right, sue me.
For some reason I forgot it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s and we decided to go up the gondolas and ride on the luge. Woe betide, came the cry. Crowds. Queues. Hordes. Hoards. The great tide of humanity. Etc.
We went anyway and the queues weren’t too bad (I’ve been to St Lukes mall (aka the Hellmouth) on Christmas Eve: this was a walk in the park, quite literally). However at the top of the gondola I was accosted by a strange man in a hat.
Here we go, I thought.
“You want free ride on luge?” The word “free” alerted me to his real purpose – to disconnect some hard-earned cash from my wallet. Fortunately, like the queen, I never carry cash. I prepared my spiel, girded my loins and readied myself for unpleasantness.
“My group has finished and we’re heading back down but I’ve got a spare ride on the luge. Please, it’s yours. ” and with that he thrust a ticket in my hand.
“Oh, erm. Thank you,” I riposted. I shook his hand and he broke into a broad smile before waving and shouting “Merry Christmas” as he disappeared towards his group.
I took the ticket to the booth and bought three more. Yes, it was valid, and not just a rubbish dump on his part.
We had a blast on the luge – junior daughter rode down with me and number one daughter went with her hoon of a mother. The ride back up is on a chairlift which was as much fun as the ride down for the younger members. Even that queue wasn’t so bad (They were rebuilding the base area so it was a bit muddy and roped off but OK).
We had lunch and then went out for another go and another man approached me. “We’re heading back down – y’all want another ticket to ride the luge?”
This is what passes for scalping in New Zealand. People giving you free tickets because they genuinely don’t have a use for them and won’t see them go to waste. The two guys I spoke to were both foreign but I’ll claim it as a win for New Zealand.
I joined in the game, passing on our spare at the end of the day to a startled looking man with a funny hat and a large group of teens charging about the place. Then we rode all the way down on the gondola, rode back up just because we could, got off and Grandma bought us all ice creams and then we rode back down again and went home.
A Merry Christmas to all.