Steamy Rotarua

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, February 5, 2012

Getting from the North was an epic day of driving, 7 and a half hours in the car (including a little beach side-trip) but we are now south of Auckland and next is 'Steamy Rotarua.'

The campsite that we stayed at was just an hour or so North of Rotarua where we found that we were one of 3 Escape Campers, all lined up in the Campsite. And strangely, we were parked next to the Sphinx camper that we had previously rejected. The best bit was that we could see that it had none of the modern facilities that ours has, and in comparison is nowhere near as cool. Result!

In the morning we got the fright of our lives when the Girl from the Egyptian camper opened our door at 5am trying to get into our van after she had been to the loo... oops! 
She was mortified, and the next morning we saw them getting ready really quickly, skipping breakfast and leaving without so much as a glance in our direction

So anyway, Rotarua is somewhere we have heard very mixed reviews about. Some people say it's the best place they've been to and others say that it's only good if you want to see old ugly people bathing half naked in hot mud. None-the-less, we were headed there as it is a sensible stop on our route South.
The main aim of our time in Rotarua was to see hot springs and ideally a guyser but we didn't have particularly high expectations. We drove for a couple of hours and stopped at the main Rotarua guyser, Pohutu, which erupts around 20 times a day. Unfortunately, our expectation was that this was available to see for free, so when we got there and it was $46 each we decided we would head somewhere else. 

That somewhere else was a park in the middle of the town which claimed to have hot springs. We packed a picnic from the van and wandered into the park, and within a few seconds the first pond started letting steam out into the air with a strong smell of sulphur (eggy fart). It was so surreal, we were just wandering around a park (very similar to a standard park in the UK) but with thermal springs and hot mud pools. It was amazing, and such a unique experience. These little thermal pools can just appear at any time, so they tell you to stay off the grass as one could just open up when you walk over it which would result in a very burnt and very smelly leg.

Now with an idea of how cool this thermal world is, we headed to our next destination, Orakei Korako in the Hidden Valley. This entailed a 45 minute drive down some windy roads seemingly into the middle of nowhere until we got to a river. From there we caught a boat across the water to an area which looked like how I imagine Mars to look. Piping hot water was pouring down over coloured rocks and just ahead of us a Guyser went off spouting boiling hot water 5 metres into the air. 

We wandered around the site for a couple of hours exploring this amazing natural phenomenon. The best area was known as the artists palette (named due to the way the rocks have been coloured from thousands of years of thermal activity) and contained dozens of Guysers ranging from tiny constant ones, to much larger ones which go off less regularly. The site was absolutely beautiful and incredible to see. A real highlight of our trip so far!  
So instead of being a waste of time, Rotarua has turned out to be one of the best days so far. Such a unique experience to see bubbling thermal pools, hot mud pools and exploding Guysers. It is such a Volatile place and so intriguing. As you drive around you see steam rising from all over the place. Some people even have these pools in their back gardens. 

 Next stop Taupo for a 19.5Km hike....the feet are gonna be suffering!
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