Posted by: dammer145 | October 28, 2008

Rotorua

One thing about Rotorua is that almost everything costs money. You cannot visit any geothermal sites without paying entrance fees – rather strange when you are used to the European model where the government owns these kind of places and they are free for everybody.

Whakarewarewa (pronounced Faka-raywa-raywa)

After packing up as quick as we could to get away from that horrible camping, we set off for the close-by village of Whakarewarewa, a small Maori village built right on top of one of the geothermal sites. After paying the entrance fee, we had a look around first by ourselves. One way you know you are near Rotorua is the ever-present smell of rotten eggs (also a good cover-up for any incidental flatulence). The houses of the village had been built between boiling water holes and steam vents – not the best place on earth to have your abode. We went up the hill to the concert hall, where we would first be treated to a Maori show of song and dance. It was a nice show, somewhat different to the one we had seen in Waitangi and a little less professional, but good fun nonetheless. We even got to take part in the singing and dancing here!

Anouk fancied him.

Anouk fancied one of the Maori men and got her picture taken with him – I’m sure that picture will make it’s way onto one of our walls back home. After that we were guided around town by Rubina. She showed us the hot pools that the locals used to cook food, along with their “microwave” – a wooded hatchet on top of a vent with a cover. One of these microwaves had exploded the month before! Rubina showed us our way through the bubbly pools and vents up to a large, double geyser where the tour ended. The geyser was quite impressive – the larger of the two went up to ten metres high! We walked back past the cemetery and shops selling Maori arts and crafts and had ourselves an enormous burger in the restaurant.

Traditional Maori Art on top of a marai (meeting hall).

As we wanted to stay in the Rotorua area, but definitely did not want to stay on that camping again, we decided to move to another camping just out of town, not far from mount Tarawera, the volcano that had blown its top off 150 years before. The camping was right next to a lake and had some lovely views. We had an early dinner of pasta, chicken and chinese BBQ sauce, we headed back to Rotorua for the Polynesian Spa!

The spa consisted of four pools, ranging in temperature between 36 and 42 degrees celsius. All towels, lockers etc. were included in the price and we bathed and lounged around until about half past eight, when large hoards of Japanese tourists started to arrive. We decided it was time to leave and after an ice cream for me and a drink for Anouk we were back in the camper towards mount Tarawera.

The day before I had bought a small book at the bird sanctuary describing how to find the Southern Cross constellation. So, once it was dark I installed myself outside with a glass of wine, some crisps and my book to try to figure out those southern skies. Now I might not be the smartest person in the world, but I do think I have a little common sense – and I really could not make heads or tails out of those stars at all! The southern sky is very unlike it’s northern brother – it’s hard to make out shapes or constellations. After about an hour I was chilled to the bone and gave up – I decided I would try another day as I was getting nowhere.

Our trusty Kea Camper!

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