Evil smells!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Where I stayed
Spa Lodge Backpacker

Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, April 6, 2005

In preparation for my mini-excursion, I naturally spent last weekend relaxing at the beach (conservation of energy!). I met a German girl, Nicole, at the hostel on Saturday and so we went to the beach together the following day and spent a good 3-4 hours chatting and chilling out. Once the sun got too much for me, I went back and watched an ancient rugby documentary with Nina (from Bury) who was an avid Rugby League fan. Afterwards, we went to the chippy across the road and then the liquor store...what a healthy lifestyle us backpackers lead! Nicole, Nina and me were joined by another Justin, this one from Canada, and we spent the night watching Notting Hill and the Grand Prix! I was suitably refreshed and raring to go to Rotorua.

In a moment of sheer extravagance, I had booked myself into a single room in Rotorua, as opposed to the dormitory rooms I have been in for the last 5 weeks! So I was looking forward to a snore-free night at long last! However, I soon discovered that Rotorua had an altogether different distraction...the smell! Yes, every so often you would be walking along and suddenly you'd get a whiff of an awful eggy smell. I must stress that this was not a result of my bizarre backpacker diet. Rather, it was down to the sulphur deposits in the city that happens to have the most "energetic thermal activity in the country" (Lonely Planet of course).

I spent Monday afternoon just wandering in and around town. I did a nice 40 minute walk around Lake Rotorua's waterfront and through the Government Gardens, passing various gurgling hot springs along the way. I then made my way to the Museum of Art and History, a really beutiful building set in peaceful, green surroundings. I decided to wait and actually go inside the following day as I knew that I would have a few hours to kill before my bus to Whakatane (plus a huge bus load of school kids had just gone inside!). So I decided to just sit down and watch the all action sport that is...crown green bowling! I must have sat there in the sun for an hour and a half (I got quite into it!) before I eventually returned to the luxurious Spa Lodge Backpackers.

The following morning I went to the Museum again, or The Bath House as it is also known, and spent a couple of hours browsing around. Whilst it wasn't in the same league as Wellington's Te Papa Museum, it was interesting to note how the House was used in the early 1900s to help the soldiers recover during and after both World Wars. In fact, my favourite segment was a 2 minute film about the Maoris involvement in World War II which was quite moving, and it has prompted me to read and learn more about our history.

My brief visit to Rotorua was nearly over, but before leaving, I had a quick chat to an old Maori guy outside the supermarket. He was such a friendly person and seemed to know everyone who passed by. Two or three times, he engaged in the traditional Maori greeting of pressing his nose against his friend's, as opposed to our more formal hand shake. He seemed genuinely interested in where I was from and why I chose New Zealand, and so far this has been the case with most of the Kiwis I have encountered on my travels.

Sweet as! On to Whakatane...

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