Sulphur City

Trip Start Apr 10, 2005
Trip End Dec 09, 2006

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Saturday, August 20, 2005

After our chilly dip in the sea we decided to heat things up with some energetic thermal activity in Rotorua, located on the heart of the central North Island volcanic plateau. The first thing you notice is the potent smell of rotten egg, which is actually sulphur, the whole town stinks of it, it's no wonder this town has been nicknamed 'Sulphur City'. The town is full of street side mini geysers, steaming mud pools, everywhere you look there is steam rising up from the ground, something you don't get to see every day!

While here we visited the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland which has the largest area (18sq km) of surface thermal activity (annoying you have to pay to see it) - there are huge collapsed craters, cold and boiling pools of mud, steaming fumaroles and bright coloured sulphur pools. We got there early in order to witness the Lady Knox geyser erupting, supposedly the same time every day (10:15am) - pretty impressive time keeping. However, it turns out it doesn't go off on its own accord, the eruption is actually triggered by a chemical reaction with soap powder that the tour guide throws in! What a rip off! The fantastic natural wonders of this place are every where thought, we even got to enjoy our own outdoor hot mineral pool in the campsite we stayed in, it was so relaxing sitting under the stars in our own private natural hot tub.

Rotorua is also rich in Maori history so we took the opportunity here to learn more about New Zealand's native culture. One thing that is noticeable throughout the country is that the Maori people, although now living in the modern/westernised world are still very passionate and proud of their culture and heritage and keep it very much alive within the modern society. An example some of you might have seen (if you're a rugby fan), the All Blacks perform the Haka, a Maori war dance before all their games in order to intimidate their opponents. We went along to the Mitai village and had the best evening in NZ so far. Set up like a traditional Maori village we were treated to a Maori concert in traditional dress, we learnt about their rituals and beliefs and our favourite was the Hangi, a feast cooked in an earth oven, it actually cooks in the ground enabled by the geothermal activity. We stuffed ourselves with lamb,chicken, beef, potatoes, vegetables - it was nearly as good as my mum's roasts, if only we could have taken a doggy bag back to the van! After dinner we went out in to the forest and saw glow worms lighting up the bushes and trees, they looked like tiny little stars - it was beautiful considering it's their bums glowing! It was a great night all in all, in fact no itinerary in NZ would be complete without a trip to Rotorua - it's truly an amazing place!
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