Rotorua stinks! And that's not me being mean about it, it really does. Everyone warned me, so it didn't bother me too much, but because of the geothermal activity in the area, there is a lot of sulphur being released into the air so it smells like rotten eggs. That aside, it's not a bad town and there's lots to do here.
On my first night I went on a trip to Tamaki Maori Village, where we experienced a maori hangi and concert. We arrived at the village, after having appointed a chief on our bus. The criteria for being a chief were pretty simple - you had to be an adult male, and play rugby union! There actually weren't any egg chasers on the bus, so Mark, our driver, settled for any guy who'd ever watched a rugby game. Rasmus (Danish guy form my Magic tour bus) was chosen and he had to lead us into the camp, after he had been intimidated by the maori warrior sent out to challenge us. When we went into the village we had a few minutes to wander round and find out more about the maori culture.
We were then taken through to see our dinner being taken out of the ground. The hangi meal is prepared and then cooked underground on hot rocks, so we were taken round to see the guys digging the earth off of the hole to get our food out. We then went through into another building and watched a maori concert, including several songs and a performance of the haka made famous by the All Blacks. After that it was time to eat, and we had a massive buffet with a few different meats, potatoes and veg. And then came 3 different types of dessert!
Before we got back on the bus, our chief was taught to do the haka, in front of us all. The journey home was the funnniest part of the evening with Mark singing songs all the way back, including a representative song for each country present on the bus, the classic 'Wheels on the Bus' and 'Here we go round the Mulberry Bush' while driving round and round a roundabout, at least 8 times!
On my second day in Rotorua, i had a wander round the town and did the touristy sightseeing. I walked all along the edge of Lake Rotorua which had some beautiful scenery, but also bubbling mud pools along the way. I then walked through the old Government Gardens to Rachel's Spring (which is 100 degrees centigrade!) and the old Government house.
My third day was spent having a go at some of the many activities 'Rotovegas' has to offer. First, I went up on the Skyline gondola - like a big chair lift that takes you up a hill in a pod type thing. Then from the top there were luge rides down - like sitting on a skateboard with handles rolling down the hill. They were pretty good fun, and i managed to get confident enough to go down the advanced run on my 5th go! From there I headed off for another trip down a hill, this time in a Zorb. Zorbing is basically rolling down a hill in a big blow up ball. I did the Zydro - the wet zorb. They put you inside the ball with a puddle of water and throw you down the zigzag track. I was in control for the first part but after i'd hit the first corner i was then rolling down backards and getting absolutely soaked! Fun though!
Leaving on the bus again tomorrow - next stop Taupo.