First of all, the town itself constantly has this sulphur smell (rotten egg), that comes and goes in strength, due to all the volcanic and thermal activity in the area. You actually kind of get used to it. It's quite a tourist town due to the cultural and thermal attractions. I have decided that it is great to travel in the low season, there are less peeps, easy to get accomodation (otherwise planning would be a must as it would be chalkered), prices lower, and you just have more space which i love.
Not sure if you know but NZ is the place to do all sorts of crazy, high adrenaline, extreme sports..they think of everything here. Skydiving and bungee jumping (where it originated) are very popular
. Of course all this costs lots of money so prioritizing is a must. My choice is tandem (2 person) whitewater kayaking. I have always wanted to try this (as i have been rafting but kayaking seems to be that next level of excitement) but no places offer the tandem and im not aboot to venture oot on my own in the rapids in a kayak. The river has hardly any rocks so its perfect for tandem (only place on the world that offers it i think). It was bloody brillant! I was in the front seat, trying to paddle as fast as i could during the rapids but let's be honest my guide was doing all the work and my life was basically in his hands. We rolled over a couple of times, which means the kayak stays flipped over while we are attached in it (so completely underwater) while i wait and hope that my guide can get it flipped back over with his strength and skill (his paddling for two really) and before i run oot of air. And he did...there was once, it seemed to take a while and i was aboot to pull my skirt oot and exit but it's all good...so there was defo a fear factor (my fear seems to have increased as i get older). as well as pure adventure. I loved it. But defo need more stength and practice before i go on my own.
Next, i went to a Maori dinner and dance. There are apparently 70 different tribes in the north and only 4 in the south...each with their different language, rituals, customs, but all similar in a way as well
. Nowadays, there are very westernized and everyone gets along very well but they like to keep hold of their culture and ways. Their sources of income are agriculture, forestry, tourism. The Maori originated hundreds of years ago, coming from Polynesian islands somewhere but its not certain where or why. In this part of NZ, they used the thermal energy in most aspects of their lives....cooking, heating, bathing, swimming, spirituality. The Maoris are very spiritual people, they believe that all elements that surruond us have thier own guardian who are the offspring of the Mother Earth and the Sky Father. The dinner was fantastic, everything is cooked in a Hangi, underground, using the thermal steam. It really felt like a true homemade feast, lamb, chicken, potato, sweet potato, cauliflour...all quite famaliar but with the smokey flavour. And the dance was great to learn more aboot the culture, how they lived, survived, entertained themselves...they seemed like very happy and peaceful folk. The tribe that held this show seemed geniunely happy and thankful that we were there which was nice.
The next day, i did something i never do, i hired a car for a Tracy's tour. I figured it was worth the money as there were a few things quite a bit oot of town that i wnated to see and i could do it on my own time. So i went to Wai-tu-pu, a thermal wonderland with a erupting geyser
. I felt like i was on another planet, like mars with all the boiling points, mud pools, the heat, the colours, the steam. Im hoping pictures will describe it better. Then went for a drive by some lakes and had a picnic. There are 16 lakes just in the region. Then to Hell's gate (real name) which is more thernal landforms and it did feel like a horror movie with the sulphur smell, steam again and mud bubbling and boiling. It was all very bizarre and surreal. Then finally i found myself a thermal hot pool to take a dip amongst the woods...i was very happy with this find. It was actually a river, with a small waterfall. The water was very warm..so i sat myself under the waterfall for a while with nature's own massage and heat. It was wonderful. A perfect end to a very busy two days.
So im particularly exhasted as i feel like haven't stopped in a few days...its a good exhaustion though and loved every minute of it. I will hopefully slow down for my last few days in NZ as im headed to Auckland where im hoping to meet up with a friend, traveling bud.
In Rotorua, i wanted to experience some Maori culture, thermal energy and some more sport. Check!