You could smell Rotorua long before you could see it! The sulphur smell was everywhere, but you know what that means..... Hot pools! Yes, Bee was very happy. First stop was the natural pool out at Kerosene creek, beneath the wide and strong waterfalls after all the rain, surrounded by trees and ferns in the bush. Tim whiled the time way diving into the falls only to shoot back out down stream.
Driving a bit out of town we went exploring the Waimangu Volcanic Valley geothermal park, a protected scenic reserve and wildlife refuge (we saw a wallaby unexpectedly in the bush on the way to the lake of black swans) that encompasses Lake Rotomahana. This is the worlds youngest geothermal system present only since an eruption in 1886. The dramatic Inferno crater and its mesmerising turquoise blue lake (Bee's favourite) and the small geysers (Tim's favourite photo opportunity!) through to the world's largest hot water spring at Frying Pan Lake.
Throughout our stay in Rotorua a group of old boys staying in the campsite lodge furnished us with more fresh trout than we knew what to cook up!
The thermal Maori village in town was Whakarewarewa, our local guide who had grown up there was particularly candid and gave us some real insights into living in the village both as a child and also now with the tourism enterprise in full swing. We got to see the geysers, mud pools, sample hangi food cooked in a thermal pool (no you can't taste the sulphur!) and see the intricately carved and decorated meeting house. To top off the tour we got to see some dancing and the famous Haka (at least when we watched the ruby we now knew the significance of these moves and faces).
A sunset visit to the thermal pools on the shores of Lake Rotorua topped of our time perfectly, though by this time Tim was done with all this relaxing in hot water and was ready for some more adventure!
On the road again we headed just a little down the road to catch the first test match in the Rugby, All Blacks vs. France on a big screen at Lake Taupo (not that we could see the lake for the rain!) it was now time to head south to our last stop of the North Island, Wellington.