White Water Rafting in the smelly Sulphur City

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 23, 2011

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, December 20, 2010


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. On our way to the village our driver chose a Chief to represent our group. One of our fellow travellers on the KiwiBus, Mike, was chosen to be our Chief. As we entered the village we were presented with a challenging ceremony. It was tradition for Maori’s to challenge all newcomers to find out if they were friend or foe. We were then welcomed by Uitara IV to see the lifestyle and warrior traditions that the pre-European Maori upheld. It was a really good night and highly recommend to anyone visiting Rotorua as it is the only essence of culture you will find in NZ.

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. We said we probably won’t be at a rush to do it again, similar to what others said from doing the Grade 5 activity at other places in NZ. Tom enjoyed it more as I felt a bit useless as the rafting instructor picked on me! He even asked me to get down before we reached the waterfall drop; apparently because he didn’t want his teeth smashed in…but please the cheek of it!!! Anyway, it was still fun especially the waterfall drop when the boat went under water and nearly flipped over due to the sheer force of the rapid smashing on top of us.

Next Stop Waitomo for Black Water Rafting……

Love Hollie and Thomas xxxx
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: