Swings, Springs, Hangis

Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
Trip End Nov 16, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We stayed in Rotorua and planned a lot of activities. 
First stop the Rotorua Museum, we tagged onto a tour with a very knowledgable lady telling us all about the Maori history of the area (they all arrived about 800 years ago in a big canoe from Tahiti!). Then the history of the bath house (that is home to the museum), it seems that the suphuric acid that flows up from the ground is quite corrosive and you need special pipes to enable people to bath in it. Some of the early 20th century treatments looked pretty gruesome, sit in a bath of sulphuric acid spiced with radium and have an electric current passed through you (no thanks). And finally the story of the Tarawera volcanic eruption in 1886 which killed a hundred or so folk and nearly wrecked Rotorua for good.
Next stop the skyline skyway and luge, a ski-lift like gondola which takes you up to a hill just outside the town (affording a reasonable, but somewhat disappointing view down to the town) and they have a number of luge tracks running back down the hill. We had a couple of runs down the hill, the local kids were flying down (wrecklessly in my geriatric opinion). Ellie loved it and is considering becoming a professional Lugist.
Just time for a quick visit to the polynesian spa for a soak in some (dilute, yet hot) sulphuric acid and to feel the flesh made raw from the previous day's kayaking dissolve slowly. Very relaxing. It seems that while this is a nice facility and the hot pools are clean and relaxing they could do with sex-ing the place up a little, a fact finding tour to Blue Lagoon would do them wonders.
We rushed to a new campsite (having been pretty disappointed by the 1st we stayed at in Rotorua) before we were picked up and taken to a Maori cultural event and hangi. About 100 tourists (from 17 nations, it emerged) entertained by 1) the arrival of Maori warriors in a waka (canoe) 2) a traditional Moari welcome ceremony 3) Maori Poi dancing 4) the local tribes Haka , then a buffet of lamb, chicken & kumara (sweet potato) cooked in a haangi (underground like the Umu we had in Tonga). It was all pretty amusing and a slick operation, although I was disappointed that the Maori's tatoos were painted on and not real.
We then took a quick tour through the neighbouring nature park (Rainbow Springs) to see some local fauna, rainbow trout and ducks, Kea and best of all Kiwi. As it was night time the timid kiwi were out foraging for worms and it was pretty cool to see them running here and there seemingly in mortal fear for their lives.
Finally we were returned to the campsite for a well earned sleep.
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