As the Maoris say which means good health , good luck, is that ok?, stay safe and anything else they feel like. We left Auckland and come over to Rotarua which is an awesome town. It is a town built on a volcano, when it erupted hundreds of years ago the volcano collapsed in on itself making a crater which the town is built in. There is still a lot of geothermal activity, steam comes out of drains on the streets and there are boiling mud pools and hot springs all other the place.
I think we had both had enough of Auckland, it was fine but after a week we were ready to move on. We stopped on the way to take a picture next to the giant L&P New Zealand's favourite drink. We drove up to Hobbington, the set of the Lord of the Rings films, where for only $100 a person you could see some hobbit houses and sets that were used for the films! … We didn't do this but what we did do was go Zorbing at the place that invented Zorbing on the sidewinder course which throws you side to side down a course. To make it even better they threw a camera in with us so we could see exactly what a mess we looked like! I'll see if we can upload it here.
We got to the hostel and were soon got picked up for our Maori cultural evening. Four buses went and each bus had to choose a Chief of their tribe and I was chosen as Chief so had to stand with the other Chiefs as we were challenged by home warriors and given a peace symbol. We then did the Hakka in front of everyone and went around to different cultural houses learning about Maori games, customs and tattoos. Then as chief I lead my tribe to the heart of the village where watched some cultural dances and songs and then on to an amazing lunch all cooked in traditional Maori oven which is cooked by steam under the ground and all tasted amazing. Then after another Hakka in front of all four tribes we headed back.
The next day we had a walk around Rotarua which smells a little bit of rotten eggs (due to the sulphur) but is a great town. We went white water rafting on the river with the largest waterfall you can raft down in the world - 7 metres! Very cold but amazing with three waterfalls and 14 rapids and it was just me and San on the raft with the instructors. After dinner we went down to the Pig and Whistle, a converted police station that's now a pub with its own microbrewery producing Swine beer which was very tasty.
The next day we went luging. There is a local course so you get a gondola to the top of the mountain and choose one of three courses to run and get ski lifts back to the top. It was really good fun and on the expert run you could even get some air on the faster parts of the course. When we got back to the hostel we found that Magic Bus who we had been travelling around the country with has been bought out and we are now on the Kiwi Experience - a completely different route around the country where a lot of our prepaid accommodation isn't valid, so cue very long phone calls for much of the afternoon.
We spent our last evening bathing in the Polynesian Spa's. These are in the worlds Top 10 Spa's to visit. They had an array of hot pools, one main one and 5 priest pools. The priest pools were different temperatures ranging from 38 to 42 degrees. We found the 42 degree one too hot but it was outdoors and overlooked Lake Roturua, it was so beautiful to be warm and sitting outside in the dark. There were two different tyes of priest pools one with alkaline (which is good for yoru skin) and one acidic one (for muscles and bones). Apparently in the 1800's an Irish priest came and bathed in these and he had rhumatoid arthritis and he claimed to have been cured. We smelled of sulpher for the next few days which we didn't realise until we left Roturua.
The next day we got picked up by a Geyser Link shuttle and went to see the Lady Knox Geyser erupt which was pretty spectacular with water shooting over 10 metres in the air. Then we went for a look around the Wai-O- Tapu geothermal park with huge craters, thermal activity and different coloured champagne pools and that was the end of our time in Roturua, next stop Taupo.