Sarah and I arrived in Rotorua on a beautiful sunny morning. Rotorua is a sizeable town set on a lake of the same name, and is known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was the pervasive sulfuric scent in the air from geothermal pools near the city. In fact, there was a park with bubbling mud pools just down the block from our hostel, which we visited right after we checked in and dropped off our bags.
After visiting the park we walked downtown and visited the information center to check out fun things to do around the town. We decided to go hiking along an easy two-hour loop track in a park south of the city. The track took us through some beautiful forests that were absolutely covered in ferns, with bright shafts of sunlight spiraling down through the trees.
Midway through the hike, the trail led to a lookout which gave a magnificent view of the city. The lookout had a couple benches so we took the opportunity to sit down, eat some snacks, and read our books for a while.
It was a very fun and incredibly beautiful hike, and we returned to our hostel feeling physically tired but emotionally rejuvenated.
The next day we got up early to catch a bus for a tour of the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. The first stop on the tour was the Lady Knox geyser, which was discovered in the early 1900s when prisoners from a nearby institution used the hot spring to wash their clothes. The laundry soap that was introduced to the spring caused the geyser at the base of the spring to erupt. Today the geyser is surrounded by rocks piled at the base of the spring, and once a day the park employees hold a show where they add soap to the spring to induce an eruption of warm, sweet-smelling water.
The next stop on the tour was some bubbling, steaming mud pools. The mud from these pools are said to have healthy properties, and are used in a variety of cosmetics, creams, and remedies.
Then we continued on to the main park, which was filled with a variety of bubbling mud pools, steaming hot springs, and deep sinkholes. Upon arrival I was struck by the sight of hundreds of vents in the ground spewing stinking sulfuric steam. It created an otherworldly (and vaguely hellish) effect that I enjoyed, but I learned to be careful after the first few facefulls of stinking steam induced awful choking and coughing fits.
The park’s walking tracks took us to a stunning variety of hot pools, some of which were turned vivid colors by the bacteria and elements present in the water.
Sarah and I really enjoyed visiting Wai-O-Tapu, although we came away with our clothes, hair, and bags stinking of sulfur. The colorful geothermic hot springs, mud pools, and geysers were so different from anything we had seen before, and we ended up having a lot of fun.
The next day we got up early to catch a bus to our last stop of the trip, Auckland!
Until next time,