Rotorua - Day 2 (Waiotapu & Zorbing)

Trip Start Jul 06, 2012
Trip End Nov 14, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, July 8, 2012

The most fun (or maybe not so fun) fact about Rotorua is that the entire town smells of rotten eggs - sulfur to be more technical. This is due to the geothermal activity of the city since the city lies on the Rotorua Caldera, a volcano whose last major eruption was about 240,000 years ago. A little more information on the lovely smell of Rotorua can be found here: . Though it sounds absolutely horrible, they are right when they say the smell grows on you. Not that I could ever say that I ended up enjoying it necessarily, but it quickly became absolutely fine to deal with - unnoticeable eventually.

Our second day of Rotorua was quite a busy one. We woke up early so we could catch the daily eruption of the Lady Knox Geyser. There are only about 1,000 known geysers worldwide - most of which can be found in the good ol' U.S. of A in Yellowstone National Park. The only other major geyser fields worldwide can be found in Russia, Chile, Iceland, and here in New Zealand. Though they do help induce the eruption of the Lady Knox Geyser, it still only goes once a day and lasts quite a long time. The guide from the Waiotapu Geothermal Wonderland (where the geyser is located) gave us a brief history of the geyser before he added the soap to induce it. He told us how there used to be a prison very close to where the geyser is located. Inmates used to have to do laundry by hand in the area and they had stumbled upon this geyser which, to them, was just a growth in the ground with boiling water. They decided it would be smart to utilize this great find and use it do do their wash instead of having to build a fire and boil water themselves. So, one day they brought all their wash over to the geyser to try out this bright, new plan. They dumped all their clothes in there and then added the soap to the geyser. All of a sudden, they were caught completely off guard as the geyser erupted blowing water and all of their laundry everywhere. Apparently, articles of clothing were found all over the place for lots of time after that. The soap they added had created the chemical reaction which triggered the geyser to finally erupt; also the reason why they use soap to induce Lady Knox today. Once he added the soap, it took probably about 4-5 minutes to really get going but once it did, it was such a cool sight to see. It was still going relatively strong when we left after about 15 minutes to check out the rest of the Waiotapu Geothermal Wonderland. It's hard to really explain how incredible it was walking through the geothermal park; the sights are those kinds of things you never really think exist in real life. The photographs I've posted don't really come close to doing it any justice, but hopefully you can check them out and get a very tiny idea of what my surroundings looked like as we made our way through. The entire area is located on the edge of the largest volcanic depression within the active Taupo Volcanic Zone and completely covered with collapsed craters as well as cold and boiling pools of mud and water. Beneath the ground was a system of streams which were heated by left-over magma from previous eruptions. The intense heat of the water absorbs minerals out of the rocks over which it passes and transports them to the surface causing rocks in the area to develop a variety of different colors reflecting whichever mineral. The yellow rocks were infused with sulfur, the red ones with iron oxide, the purple with manganese oxide, and the list goes on. It was absolutely one of those experiences that I realized how lucky I am to be here and have this opportunity to see some of the world's wonders. After we finished our guided tour through the park, we returned to the hotel to grab ourselves lunch before we went ZORBING!!

The first zorbing site was established right in Rotorua where we went. For those of you (probably most of you) who don't know what zorbing is, it's basically the "sport" of rolling downhill in a giant plastic orb. There are both harnessed and unharnessed zorbs, but the ones we used were unharnessed meaning we could fit 3 people into each one. We changed into our togs, the New Zealand word for bathing suits, and were driven up to the top of the hill. Some of us opted into wearing a little extra clothing so our togs wouldn't be ripped off as we tumbled down and lead us into an awkward, nude situation as we climbed out...Anyways, they filled up the huge balls with hot water and made us dive through the hole superman style to get in. When they told us to, we had to start running or hitting the side of the ball to get enough momentum to push us down the hill. It say the least, but it was so much fun. The ride felt like maybe 40 seconds long, but it really only lasted about 15 seconds. As you can see in the pictures, getting tossed around in a plastic ball filled with water doesn't make for any glamorous photos but it was a great time. Zorbing is something I have wanted to do for years (I've wanted to come to New Zealand since I was 8 years old for some unknown reason...), and I am so glad I was able to do it within my first few days of landing in this country.
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