Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Zealand Day 10: Rotorua

We had a very comfortable night in the Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday park. In the morning, Alex woke up still a bit stiff from his surfing experience in Raglan, and I suggested he go off and soak in one of the thermal hot tubs. Meanwhile, I plotted our day and blogged:

B helped with some after-breakfast cleanup.

Here's a view of our site.

Alex and B went over to the other side of the site to check out the thermal beach along Lake Rotorua. We didn't have time to try it, but apparently if you dig holes in certain parts of this beach, it's nice and warm.

There are several opportunities for Maori cultural experiences in the area, many of them in the evening with a performance and a hangi (specially steamed) meal. They are quite expensive and B isn't quite a sit-patiently-and-watch-something-in-the-evening sort of person. I looked at a bunch of options because we really wanted to learn more about the Maori, since we are guests here in Aotearoa (New Zealand). So, with the help of the Frenzy I found a place that had a short mid-day cultural performance with the option of a tour of a thermal village where some Maori families still live.

 It was terrific, and we're really glad we went on the tour, which was fascinating for the adults.

That's the shortened name of the village, "Fa-ka-rewa-rewa" up above and the full name below.

The folks who live in the village cook communally in these hangi boxes. This one had rhubarb in it!

This is the cooking pool. It is so hot that it takes only 5 minutes to cook rice. You can also see our terrific guide, who lives just outside the village and has family members living there (there's only a certain number of places to live...given the geothermal activity!).

We saw two geysers spouting as well: Pohutu and Prince of Wales feathers.

This pretty much sums up B's view of the geothermal pools: stinky!

Some detail work carved into the main meeting house in the village:

Another view of the geysers, with the village swimming pool in the foreground:

Later in the afternoon we took a hike up to a trig point above Rotorua and got a bird's eye view of the same geyser:

Look! We were all there!

The forest is actually a Redwood forest, planted for timber some time ago. It's a mountain biking mecca with walking and horseback riding trails as well.

Towards the end of our loop track we came upon a burbling, steaming mud pool:

We also found some not-so-awesome stuff:

Then we headed south towards Taupo. Partway there, we stopped to look at this giant mud pool just outside of the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. It was free and awesome. I don't know why it is so entertaining to watch the mud bubble, burp, spit, explode...but it is! I could've stayed there for an hour. Or two. Another winning NZ Frenzy tip!

Just down the road is an area where a hot stream (coming out of Waiotapu) meets a cold stream, leading to a delightful swimming/soaking hole where you can find your perfect medium temperature. I'm not sure the locals (who were quite busy drinking and smoking) appreciated us crashing their spot, but they were friendly enough and even shared some mud for a mud mask.

Then we headed the rest of the way to Taupo and made camp at the free Reid Farm campsite just north of town. The campervan is misbehaving again so tomorrow will be focused around getting it to a mechanic. Again. Then we hope to get out for some walking in the Tongariro National Park.

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