I arrived in Rotorua on Sunday afternoon with a little time to kill before I could check into my next hostel so I went in search of FOOD. After having had zero appetite for about three days, I can confirm that it is BACK. I sought the nearest cafe and found myself face to face with a wall of cakes and biscuits. It’s weird, here in NZ, there are loads of “bakeries” which are basically like little ol 70’s style self-serve cafés. ANYWAY, I went and did one of the most adult things I’ve possibly ever done: I chose a fruit salad… over this wall of cakes— travel really changes you, man.
I went and got myself all checked into the hostel, Rock Solid Backpackers, which has a climbing wall in it because why not. Not wanting to waste anymore time, I decided to head out and see what the town had to offer. I wandered towards lake Rotorua but unfortunately it started to rain so I headed for the trees for shelter. Luckily the rain here isn’t like yer grotty ‘orrible cold British rain, it’s still pretty warm and when it does rain everywhere smells like fresh cut grass. I wandered through the trees towards the government gardens which were quite nice. There’s a museum there too although sadly that’s closed following the recent earthquakes, which was a bit of a shame (but totally understandable). I wandered across town to Kuirau park, which is the source of the eggy/ sulfur smell that frequently wafts through the streets. It’s a public, geothermal park, so there’s bubbling pits of mud and steaming pools of hot… stuff. It was pretty cool to wander around it all, right there in the middle of the town and I should mention that all the public parks here are so pretty.
I had trouble sleeping that night and I can tell you it was purely down to excitement about the next day. I went to HOBBITON, which was such a mega event that it warrants it’s own blog post. (Check back, post to come ASAP!)
To continue one of the best days ever I returned to the hostel to meet my roomie, Lucy, for a pizza date before we headed over to the Polynesian Spa to soothe to take in a twilight sky over Lake Rotorua. At the spa there were pools of varying temperatures between 36 and 42 degrees, each with beautiful views of the lake. As an unexpected bonus, one of the pools shared the lakeside with a little flock of seagulls, which I realise doesn’t sound that thrilling BUT we quickly noticed some baby birds and they were so heckin fluffy. So, the pools at the spa included Priest Spring, a slightly acidic pool (which sounds terrible and not fit fer humans but I’m still here so it must be okay) and Rachel Spring, an alkaline water pool. It was a really nice evening spent in good company, although I saw enough unwanted nudity afterwards in the changing rooms to last a lifetime, thank you very much.
The next day, I was up early and off to Wai O Tapu geothermal park, which incidentally is my new favourite thing to say when practicing my NZ accent. We drove through Kiangaroa forest which is the largest plantation in Southern Hemisphere and it is exceptionally pretty, and right by Mt. Tarawera and Rainbow Mountain.
Wai O Tapu literally means sacred waters and it’s described as a “thermal wonderland” which is very accurate! First off, I went to see the eruption of Lady Knox geyser, which if I’m completely honest, was underwhelming… I think this is perhaps because I’ve been to see Strokkur in Iceland and that was so, so impressive… clearly I have high geyser standards. After that I met up with a former roomie, Collette, and we wandered around the park, which was very impressive. Set amongst this great forest were all sorts of pools of varying colours and consistencies, my favourite of which was called “The Devil’s Bath” and was luminous lime green. It was already so hot whilst we were walking around the park that it was really quite overwhelmingly hot when you were stood in the path of the steam coming off some of the pools!
On my return to Rotorua, not wanting to waste the beautiful day, I set out back towards the river, to redo the walk I’d done in the rain on my first day in town. I’m glad I revisited the lake because it looked much prettier in the sunshine and I felt pretty chuffed with myself as I strolled about the place, giant pink ice cream in hand.
There’s just so much to see and do here, I expect I’ll be back!