Rotorua

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
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Trip End May 21, 2011


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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our next destination was Rotorua, famous for its volcanic landscape, bubbling hot pools and large geysers. Many of the locals actually have hot springs running into their backyard hot tubs, all incredibly natural and relaxing, apart from the stink bomb smell of sulphur. We visited Te Puia, primarily to view its volcanic landscape and to witness NZ's largest geyser called the Pohutu. First, we were given a tour of original Maori villages that were located in the park, which though interesting, it repeated what we had previously learnt in the Auckland museum. The tour proceeded to view the rare Kiwi birds, held in an artificially temperate and nocturnal environment. They are strange but beautiful creatures, coated in soft looking velvety fur, long beaks, lacking in wings and very plump looking, it is no wonder why these birds were easily hunted to near extinction and are now an endangered species.

Afterwards, we visited the site where the hourly blast from the geyser occurs and we were pleased to see that it was already beginning to steam heavily into the air before releasing a 30 metres high gush of boiling water. This was quite amazing to see and hear the power of the thermal energy and it lasted for about 20 minutes. It was nearly closing time so we finished the visit by quickly walking around the park to view the various bubbling mud pools and acidic waters varying in hues.

South of Rotorua, near Taupo, we decided to go on a jet boat because not only was jet boating invented in New Zealand, this was the only place where you can jet boat up and down rapids. We rolled up and booked ourselves onto 35 minutes of ridiculously fast boating down the river. The acceleration of the boat was quite outstanding, probably aided by the 9.1 litre Chevy V8 truck engine in the back of the boat! The boat handled like a rally car as he took bends at fast speeds. At many points, we were unable to talk, see or open our mouths due to the speed. If my hairline has receded, I blame this, not genetics. The nice but slightly mental driver took us within inches of rocks and trees at maximum speed before stopping by performing 360 degree spins, this is the fastest way to stop as these boats (as do most), lack brakes. He then took us up and down rapids that ranged from grades 2-4, which was good fun, dropping, jumping and making most of us quite wet. For me, just to hear the powerful V8 fight effortlessly against one of NZ’s fastest flowing rivers was a highlight. A jet boat is next on my Christmas list. Though the experience was expensive, we felt like it was worth every penny and it had opened up our spirit of adventure.
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