*sniff* *sniff*... Do you smell something?

Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
Trip End Apr 12, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, March 19, 2009

We've both been needing a haircut from before we even went on holiday, and we made an appointment to get just that on our way south. Martijn went for the fairly simple and safe approach (can't do much with the short hair he has), but Trude went more radical and thus spent almost 4 hours at the hairdressers :P. Our hairdresser was very kind and helpful with suggestions and even spurring us on a bit to go that extra distance. So now Trude has very blonde hair (finally Martijn agrees that it is not light brown anymore!) with a few BLUE stripes in it :P
They are not always hugely visible, but keep your eyes peeled in the pictures for them :D

After this exhausting venture (sitting still for a good 4 hours can really be tiring you know!) we went our merry way with nary a worry towards Rotorua. Little did Martijn know we were driving towards a place that is also known as ROTTEN-RUA (Trude knew... But wisely enough decided to not inform Martijn that the place STINKS of rotten eggs...).

Let us take a minute here to try to convey the experience a little bit... Imagine if you will that in your own home you scatter eggs everywhere... Maybe 20 of them or so... And then you go away on a holiday somewhere nice for several weeks before returning...
Then when you are approaching your little familiar haven you start to notice something... a faint rotten egg smell coming towards you... Then, you get home and it is EVERYWHERE... STRONG AS HELL... Every place and room you go to, the strong stench of rotten eggs (sulphur)... The bedroom, the streets, the bathroom, the kitchen, restaurants, inside cars... It is truly amazing!!!

Now before anyone worries... The place is MEANT to smell like that (not that that makes it any more enjoyable really, but ok...) Rotorua is in an area with lots of thermal activity. Volcanoes, bubbling mud and hot springs are all over the place. And the hot air and water that comes from deep DEEP underground contains a lot of sulphur, which is that wonderful rotten egg smell.

We were told that after a day or two we'd get used to it and not notice it anymore, but that turned out to not be very accurate. It STILL reeks to high heaven! And we can quite understand that some people go there to see the sights, but turn around right away because they can't cope with the smell.
We however stayed and did have a nice time all in all, but the smell does persist everywhere you go...

Thankfully we found a nice place for a more luxurious dinner the first evening in Rotorua where the smell of sulphur was practically non-existant (near the water edge where a little breeze does wonders). The place we picked was a steak restaurant that did stone grilling, but what they gave us was a flaming hot (400 degrees celcius they told us) slab of ROCK that we then used ourselves to fry our own steak :D
Getting a raw cut of meat together with a hot stone to then prepare your own dinner with is a fun experience and Martijn enjoyed being able to fry his meat the way HE likes it without people telling him it's all wrong (shoe-sole here I come!).

Our second day in Rotorua WAS (notice that word, it is crucial to the story) set aside to go visit White Island, which is a small island just off the coast that is still an active volcano. Visiting the island is hugely weather dependent (as you have to cross a fair stretch of open ocean), but the tour company called us the evening before to confirm that they were going through with the tour. So we got up at 6 in the morning and drove about 90 minutes to where the boat departs from (a town called Whakatane).

After a bit of a delay (A car broke down on the ONLY bridge connecting the town with the rest of the country) we headed out to sea. After about 30 minutes however the tour company decided to turn around as the sea was just too rough and we would not be able to make landfall at White Island. Plus it would have taken another 2 hours to get there and over half the people on the boat were already sea-sick (both of us included).
Thankfully we got a full refund afterwards and got to keep our unused sea-sickness bags as souvenirs (the used ones they thankfully binned for us).
We did get the option to re-book for the next day, but we decided against it as we then would have no time left to see Rotorua itself. And there was of course no guarantee that the weather would have been any better the next day.

Rotorua itself is home to a number of more extreme activities, but we found a nice relaxing gondola-ride up a hill more fitting for us. At the top we had a little lunch outside and were almost assaulted by dozens of little birds (sparrows we think). The benefit of them however was that they would come real close and pose for pictures (and clean up any leftover fries :P).

After enjoying the hill-top we gathered up our courage to head back into ROTTEN-RUA for a relaxing dinner and an early night (gondola rides are exhausting you know!).
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bluejeans on

AKA Rotovegas
no idea why its called that - maybe one of the first places in NZ to get a casino :P - but yes I do recall WITHOUT fondness that smothering stinkiness that pervades every nook and cranny !! eeuwwww!!!! I wonder if anyone has thought of 'scratch and sniff' t-shirts as a tourist momento :D
Shame about the White Island Trip I bet some very cool pix would have been taken there :)

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