Rotorua, 30th July - 1st August 2010
Hobbits, Maori culture, mud baths & hot pools.
The Magic Bus
The Magic Bus picked us up from our hostel nice and early at 7.50 and headed off to Rotorua (going back to work is going to kill me!) Now I was expecting the coach to be like a bus service and have a few stops along the way before arriving at the final destination - how wrong I was.This coach is absolutely awesome - you could even say Magic (get it, haha)! They pick you up, take you to loads of destinations throughout the day and give you enough time to get off the coach and have a look around. They have accommodation forms for you to pick where you want to stay, they call up and book it for you and then they drop you off. I certainly wasn't expecting a door to door service. They also have loads of excursions along the way and at the main destinations which they will also book for you. If you also decide whilst on the journey you want to get off and do an excursion they'll move all your accommodation around, book the new place, book the excursion and move your next bus journey for you! It's also all cheaper booking it through Magic rather than independently. OMG it's like having your own PA & Chauffer.Proper lazy travelling - I love it. :)
So the first port of call was Mt Eden / City of sails which offers a bird's eye view over the city of Auckland. It was still early morning and there was a thick blanket of fog hovering over parts of the city which made it particularly photographic.
The next stop was a town called Hobbiton which is home to the Shire scenes in The Lord of the Rings. We took pics of Gollum but decided against the farm and studio tour. Apparently they're shooting another one out there now, but I don't think I've even watched a full one yet so this didn't really appeal.
Rotorua, (a.k.a. that smelly egg place)
When we got to Rotorua we stopped at a Geothermal pool in the middle of a park called Rachel's Spring and a Maori cultural centre before being dropped off at our hostel.
The woman on reception kindly said we could pick either a twin room or she'd book out the whole 4 beds in the dorm for us and we still just pay the normal price, so we went for the latter option as it would be bigger. It must be because it's the middle of their winter and they're not getting many visitors - pretty nice of her either way.
We had a few hours to kill before we went to the Maori Cultural show so we went for a walk around Rotorua. It wasn't hard to find Rotorua Lake which is the 2nd largest lake in New Zealand and is surrounded by bubbling mud pools, dozens of geysers from little ones where we could hear the water bubbling and see it spitting out onto the rocks, to ones that must be 50ft high. The water is like a mill pond, expect for little pockets of water where you can it gently bubbling. But oh my god - the smell!!! It is all extremely pretty and mind blowing that you are surrounded by geysers but (pardon my French) f*** me - you certainly know when you're near one and I don't mean from the billowing steam! Imagine the smell of boiling hundreds of gone off eggs and the closer you get the more potent the stench is. We're going to the Spa tomorrow and there is no way I'm taking my bikini anywhere near that stuff. Kinda need to figure that out between now and then.
In the evening we went to the Tamaki heritage experience to take in some Maori culture. The whole evening was set in the middle of some very dense forests and it was like being on the set of Robin Hood, just without his band of men or the Sheriff of Nottingham. The tribe explained some of the Maori history, showed us the Haka dance (made famous by the All Blacks rugby team), traditional dancing, played music and also explained different aspects of their heritage including cooking 'Hangi' which is a lot like 'Lovo' in Fiji, fighting with Maori knifes and general life through the centuries.
The rest of the evening was spent eating a 'Hangi feast' which consisted of melt in the mouth food, which was all cooked by steaming it in the ground so everything had such a very earthy and fresh taste to it. When we came out it was absolutely freezing and everyone headed towards the giant fire pits. We stood out there for half an hour mesmerised by the fire and looking at the clearest and brightest stars I've ever seen.
They say that the mud pools and hot springs are full of anti-oxidants and anti-bacterial properties and are brimming with vitamins and minerals, but I also think this extends to the air. It must do because everywhere in Rotorua had the same eggy pong to it, which gets even more potent the closer you come to a geyser which are literally everywhere. Imagine walking through your local park and seeing 5 huge steam outlets, bubbling lakes and bubbling mud pools, and whenever you look down a street at night you can see thick steam pouring out of all the drains.
Now when we got to Rotorua I had a really bad burn on my finger. It was nearly 2 weeks old and without making your stomachs churn new blisters were still appearing on it, and we'd nicknamed it my pregnant finger as it was still getting bigger by the day. However 1 day in this geothermal wonderland has completely healed it! Phenomenal. It's feels like this place is pulling all of the impurities in you.Such a strange feeling.
Geothermal hot pools & bubbling mud
OMG - we had the best time ever here! :) We went to a geothermal park (to be precise) and Spa called Hellsgate. Weird name for a spa, but once we started looking around the park we understood why. We got there 45 minutes before sun down, so had to run round the whole reserve like a pair of nutters snapping away. Both of us nearly ended up at the bottom of a Geyser more than once (keep it clean!) and we successfully navigated our way through a park full of steaming plateaus, hundreds of Geysers, a baby Volcano (measuring a whole 2.4 meters awwww but growing every 3 days), a forest and hot waterfalls. Fecking nuts. The sunset over the park was really pretty and we got some wicked pics before heading back to the spa.
We did not stop laughing in the Mud Pool.A woman even came in and offered to take some pictures of us. Pretty random but there was no way either of us were picking up the camera covered in mud. First we took monster ones and then we sat in the pool and she took some more. We were told not to put the mud on our faces, so naturally I could think of nothing else and shouted "wait, I want to be a warrior" and put a line of mud under each eye! :) oh well, I've never been one for rules or people telling me not to do something.
When we got out we were told you have to get all the mud off 'for health reasons.' Pah. If it was for health reasons then they would put warm showers in, not a freezing cold hose. We had to get everything off - even when there was only a tiny bit of mud left dripping from our bikini tops we had to go back under the freezing water to get it all out until the water ran clear. And yes I do realise this is starting to sound like the start of a porn film. So with every molecule of mud off of us, and now standing on the deck of the spa, in bikinis, in the middle of winter, we then almost dive bombed into the outdoor thermal pool. Lush. We stayed in there until 10 minutes before the coach was picking us up and then got ready so quickly it would put Superman to shame. :)
Next update will be from Taupo. Over & out peeps.