White Water Rafting in the smelly Sulphur City
Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
135Trip End Sep 23, 2011
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This morning we departed Whitianga and travelled through the Kopu Ranges. On route to Rotorua we visited the Karangahake Scenic Reserve to explore a bush-clad gorge. Our driver Poncey took us on a walk across two swing bridges and through a 1km long railway tunnel (in the pitch black). As a bonding game we were told we had to trust each other and lead each other through the tunnel without using any lights (including torches, mobiles and camera flashes). We’re glad we didn’t as we were able to see a few tiny glow worms nestled at the top of the tunnel roof.
The next stop of the day was the town of Matamata, which was the filming location for Hobbiton, the Hobbit village in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We stopped here for a lunch and a few cheesy photos in front of the Hobbiton sign and Gollum
Our final stop was Rotorua. This is an unusual town as you can see steam coming from under the streets through storm water drains. There are also boiling mud pools, geysers and Polynesian hot pools from the natural volcanic geothermal activity that occurs in the area. The hot springs occur when water, beginning as rainfall, seeps through the earth’s crust and is heated by contact with hot rocks. A geyser erupts when an underground pond of water is heated to boiling point and flashes into steam, expelling the water held above the flashing point.
Rotorua is also known as Sulphur City, Roto-vegas and Rotten-rua. But we feel the Maori name for the Rotorua Government Gardens is more fitting - Whangapipiro (Fong-a-pe-pero) meaning smelly place. This is so true as the sulphur gives the town a constant whiff of rotten eggs. It is weird and very off putting.
Rotorua is the culture centre of New Zealand, where many of the Maori reside. Whilst here we spent an evening at a Maori Cultural Hangi where we were given an amazing re-enactment of a Maori village and characters. During the evening we witnessed a powerful display of Haka, song and dance in the Wharenui before enjoying a Hangi (buffet feast) cooked the traditional way….underground
The following day our group carried on to Waitomo on the KiwiBus. But we decided to stay in Rotorua an additional night so we could do our first adrenaline activity - White Water Rafting, on the Grade 5 Kaituna river (which we think may mean sacred fish in Maori). We decided to do our rafting here as the river has the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world at 7 metres high, scary!!! Due to the thermal activity in Rotorua the water here is warmer than anywhere else in NZ so wetsuits are not always needed. Despite this, Tom decided to wear the wetsuit….just to look cool apparently!! He looked like a twat!
We felt the trip was so hyped up by our Kiwi driver we were a little disappointed as we thought Grade 5 would be more challenging
Next Stop Waitomo for Black Water Rafting……
Love Hollie and Thomas xxxx