Home > New Zealand > The Thermal highway – Rotorua

The Thermal highway – Rotorua

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Rotorua’s  smell hits you before you even reach the “no engine braking” signs – WOW, what a stench of rotting eggs! With a nose for free events as well as eggs, we find the park in the town centre where we are all free to play in the thermal pools. We still struggle with the idea of sitting in an enormous volcanic crater, warming our feet on water that has been heated by the slowly cooling magma just below us. It all feels rather exciting.

the thermal pools are everywhere - and they stink

the town park is a lovely place to cook your feet

view from the back of the van - some of the camping places are gorgeous

We retreat into the cooler hills for the night in a lovely campsite on the edge of Lake Okareka, explore the Blue and Green Lakes of Tikitapu and Rotokakahi, check out the Tarawera Volcano that erupted in 1886 before heading to the main attraction of the day, Te Puhi.

Te Puhi is one of those expensive places that is actually good value. The Maori’s have set up a sort of cultural centre around the geysers and mud pools, and take great pride in showing you the history of the Maori, before leaving you to watch the natural wonders.

After a week here we are a bit confused as to what to think; there are all sorts of strange contradictions with the Maori in New Zealand. Whilst the tourist radio and guide books all reflect the importance and pride that NZ has in Maori traditions, endlessly referring back to the Maori culture and ways, it seems to the idle visitor, that the Maori also seem to fill all the menial working class jobs and to be often looked down on. Whilst Maori names are used as the basis of nearly all the towns and rivers, they seem to be regularly blamed for increasing theft and robbery. Whilst they have a strong culture and tradition of their own, the village that we saw was divided in two by a fence to separate the Catholic and Anglican Maori’s. We are not sure what to think of it all, but are very pleased that we have seen the positive side in the cultural centre.

maori exhibitionist's! Carving, flax weaving and Kiwi feather coat's are a speciality

CLICK FOR BIGGER PICTURE - The Geyser was tremendous - we are still struggling to get him to read the signs!

can you tell which ones are the Maori's?

Aside from the Maori carving and textile halls, the real treat was the geyser (pronounced guy-zer), erupting a couple of times and hour with steaming boiling water upto 10m in the air. The leaking mineral waters creating terraces of multi coloured rock and clear iridescent pools that the Maori used to use for cooking. It was another one of those memorable moments when we knew we had seen something pretty special.

As a treat, and mainly to get power and internet to book the ferry, we stayed at a holiday park in the hills, the kids loved it especially as they met some mates to play with; our first encounter with an English family who were travelling around the world for 6 months. We swapped a few stories, exchanged emails and went our separate ways, promising to keep in touch and maybe try and co-ordinate a meeting up later in the trip.

the ferns are like palm trees and beautiful

frisky shaved llamas on the route down to Taupo (sheep meets giraffe)

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Categories: New Zealand Tags: , , , , ,
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