What's that Smell?
09.01.2014 - 11.01.2014 22 °C
Coromandal Town - Rotorua (308km/191m)
Another early start, to get another 4 hour drive out of the way by lunch time and we arrived at Rotorua - the geothermal capital of New Zealand. To be blunt, Rotorua stinks!! Quite literally it smells of rotten eggs because of the sulphur and steam rising out of the ground. You simply have to go for a short walk around town to see plumes of steam coming out of rocks and the smell is quite overpowering at first!
Because we had made it in such good time we had the afternoon to play with so sat on the shores of Lake Rotorua eating our sandwiches before the heavens opened! Dashing for our trusty umbrella we headed over to the i-SITE in the centre of town to pick up some leaflets on both tramping (hiking) and some of the best places to see nature doing her thing - all of which you annoyingly had to pay a lot to see!!
Fully armed with info, we checked into Astray Motel & Backpackers right in the centre of town, which was really cosy, but definitely more of a motel than backpackers! It was still early in the afternoon (getting up early pays off!), so we headed for the Rotorua Museum which got a great write up in Lonely Planet. Built as a former Bathhouse and Wellness Centre in the 19th Century it was a beautiful Tudor fronted building set in manicured English gardens (complete with Bowling Green!).
The museum was $20 (£10) each to enter and we decided it was worth the price. We started by watching a 20 minute documentary (with the Temuera Morrison who used to be in Shortland Street and is now really famous!) which explained the history of the bathhouse as well as a detailed account of the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera complete with sound effects and vibrating seats!! It even had an age limit!
One wing still housing some of the original features of the Bathhouse and you got to go down into the basements (donning hardhats) to see the maze of pipework and mud baths. The rest of the museum housed two art galleries and an exhibit on Maori history and culture.
After a really good nights sleep in our very small, but cosy, 4 bed dorm we headed to the Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Village where you can get up close to some of the bubbling mud pools, vividly coloured sulphurous lakes and steaming geysers - although the famous Lady Knox geyser was pretty pathetic and has to be “induced” with washing powder (natural of course) to erupt at 10:15 every morning.
Thankfully the rest of the park was very cool and we saw some amazing things although it was very, very overpriced for what you got at $32.50 (£16) each!!
Leaving the steam and smells behind, we drove up the road to Rainbow Mountain for a 1.5 hour hike to the summit. This was hard work, with both us being out of shape from not doing any hiking since Poland back in August!!
We made it though through some very steep forested tracks to be rewarded with amazing 360° views of the surrounding region.
The really nice Fire Warden Barry invited us into his tower to give us even better views above the tree line. He explained about the region and what his job entails (basically keeping an eye out for bush fires and people’s farmland). We even got to pose for a photo for his Facebook page!
It had been a great day and we had managed to squeeze loads into our short time in Rotorua, but our fast paced schedule around New Zealand was no where near slowing down and the next morning we were off again, this time heading south west to New Plymouth and the Lonely Mountain of Mount Taranaki.