Rotarua is in the central northen part of the north island and due to being built on a geothermal hotspot it features numerous hot springs, bubbling mud pool and natural vents (my first experience of this was witnessing steam gush out of grids and cracks in the pavement as we drove through the city)! Even if you don't witness geothermal activity with your own eyes you can never escape it as the town has a permanent whiff of stale eggs to it due to the sulphur from volcanic activity. yum.
We were informed that you could pay to visit famous geysers and natural hot springs whilst we were here and have a mud bath etc. But seeing as most of us were pushed for money and there was a free geothermal park opposite Base Hostel that we were staying at, we decided to visit that first thing the next day (we arived fairly late to look around the park as it was getting dark). We also realised that it was one of the only stops where we didn't have to be packed up and onboard the bus by 8am the next day.. we had until 12pm yayy! This led to one fairly unanimous decision... night out! However this was soon scuppered due to there not being much of a nightlife in this town.. so we settled for buying drink from the supermarket and drinking in the hostel as we'd been lumped in one massive room together (bar Matt and Max Power - so we overpowered them and drank in theirs so they could deal with the mess ha). There was a slight problem getting booze though as a new rule had suddenly appeared where you need a passport to buy alcohol (wouldnt accept any of our drivers lisences) so Jimmy ended up buying for everyone. Slightly suspicious when he bought a couple of crates of beer, 9 bottles of wine and a bottle of vodka all to himself with us huddled outside.. Back at the hostel there was a free BBQ going on and so once we were all happy and fed we headed to the room and the drinking games commenced. From looking through the pictures the next day the night seemed to consist of ring of fire, dutch drinking games, pillow fights, injuries from playing cards, losing room keys and knock and run.
In the morning there was a mad rush at half 9 for 8 of us to get up, ready, packed, find lost room keys and out the door in time for 10am checkout. We somehow managed this but with no sign of Matt or Maxpower (they had a whole 8 bed dorm to themselves and that's where we drank the night before). Buddy went to check on them and apparently one of them was mysteriously sick in the night (both deny it was themselves) so were cleaning up and trying to loacte all 104 playing cards which had been chucked all over the room. Max had also lost his glasses so everything took twice as long as he kept walking into stuff. We evetually all headed out the front door and across to Kuirau Park, a public park that is full of geothermal activity. Although there are paths dictating the 'safe' routes to walk through and witness the bubbling mud and steam holes, apparently new steam vents randomly appear and in 2001 mud and rocks the size of footballs were suddenly hured 10 metres in the air as new a new steam vent spontaneously annouced itss arrival! Walking through the park was like something form another planet or like being in Jurassic Park, it was bizarre to witness. Also luckily by now we had grown used to the sulphuric eggy smell and so could put up with being outdoors for more than 5 minutes at a time or without having to breathe through the sleeves of our jumpers. If I was here for longer I think i'd have liked to go to one of the famous spas in the area and gone for a natural mud bath as apparently they're super good for your skin and to be honest just to say i'd done it and taken some funny pics!