On the way back to Taupo we stopped at the Craters of the Moon Reserve for a wander amongst the steaming geothermal mud-pools and huge craters from geothermal eruptions - it really was like nothing I've ever seen before.
Lewis arrived at the hostel tonight, so we all enjoyed a (rather pricey - yes, I'm even more budget-conscious now!) beer in the hostel bar and had an early night - too many early mornings!
Headed up to Rotorua today to visit the Geothermal Whakapapa Village - a living Maori village which is open to the public for tours. Our guide, Ringa, was great, so friendly and full of interesting facts and information. We toured the village, taking in the bubbling mud-pools, the famous geysers in Te Puia in the distance, and of course the geothermal pools, which the local Maori people use for cooking (both in the pools and in specially built 'hangi' steam ovens), washing, bathing and heating their homes, even today! The temperature in most of them ranges between 90-285 degrees - steamed my camera lens up a bit! The water was beautifully clear and we even had hot corn on the cob which was cooked in a muslin bag in the water of one of the bubbling pools. What with NZ being on a fault line there are geothermal areas all over the place, but this is probably one of the most active and most visited areas - just too hot to bathe in today I'm afraid! The tour was followed by an excellent cultural show, with dancing, singing and the opportunity to meet some more of the Maori residents.