‘Back to the chemistry labs’…

Trip Start Jul 18, 2010
Trip End Mar 04, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, what a day! My body clock seems to have set itself as 3 a.m. being the morning… Bev was with us by 9 a.m. and weset off for 10 to Rotorua.  My, my, what a smell! The volcanic lake of Rotorua is highly-sulphuric… yeppo, rotten eggs. As Bev said, the pet name of non-locals is ‘Rotten-rua’! Our first stop was accidental, to Rainbow springs kiwi sanctuary. (supposed to be the gondolas and luge up and down the hill!). Although we went on a wander through to see possibly the biggest trout I’ve ever seen, never sounds great when someone says it - but they were incredible! Then through the faux-bush to encounter some of the local birds. We met Jenny, the Kea bird.  She was a bit grumpy - she killed her partner as she prefers humans… moving on, we then met some green parrots and THE ugliest fish I’ve ever seen, although they probably though the same about me. So, then on to the kiwi! They are nocturnal creatures, not something I knew before. They have mouse-like furry faces with tiny beady, black eyes and an enormous beak (not so mouse-like).  The one we saw was going a bit chaos, running back and forth in it’s glass case pecking the ground.  I couldn’t get a decent photo of it unfortunately due to the lighting, but we had something rather special made up for us by the staff…. Cue embarrassing,  tourist photo of us holding photoshopped kiwi’s… We then set off next door for our original destination of the gondola’s, but decided otherwise…
Next was a trip to a Maori church set by Rotorua lake. Such an incredible building inside and out.  A fascinating sight as due to the vast amount of heat underground, they Moari’s cannot bury their dead underground.  Bright white caskets surround this fairly humble looking building.  Inside were intricate carvings in the pews and the walls were lined with bamboo weaving.  Bev tells us these varying patterns in the tapestries all tell stories which relate to the Moari’s ancestors.  The church also has a very unusual window which features, I hope Nana isn’t reading this, Jesus but in a Moari form. We went on from the church to have lunch in the bay of the lake, stunning views across to the island - the weather is incredible here, I still can’t believe it’s winter! 
After lunch we moved on to Whakarewarewa, the living thermal village.  Incredible, the houses here were built close to living geysers to generate heat in the winter months.  It seems so unstable to a H&S conscious Westerner, but this method of living has provided hot water, and a communal method of boiling food and linen.  The open areas of ground also showed through
some mud pools marketed as age-defying, but L’Oreal told me that also… We saw the ‘Prince of Wales’ geyser blow, so-named due to it’s dual-plume of steam, reaching up to 40 m! We then left the village and drove on to the Waikite valley thermal pools for a relaxing dip. Incredible.  We were in the equivalent of 40C naturally heated pools, looking through thick plumes of steam rising from the source below, over fields of grazing sheep.  NZ is clean, green and beautiful.  After nearly passing out in the pools we set off for home, enjoying a nice meal in our last night at the beach house.
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