Geothermal heaven & big balls.
15.12.2006 23 °C
We alighted the ever trusty Intercity in Rotorua and... oh Jesus, what's that awful smell..? We were soon to learn that Rotorua is an absolute hive for geothermal activity and natural springs resulting in a constant smell of Sulphur (eggy farts) in the air.
We spent our first day wandering around. Rotorua is the spiritual home of Maori so there is plenty of opportunity to learn more about the Maori culture but it was the geothermal activity which we got really into. As we strolled through the park there are these massive pools of natural hot bubbling mud - now you don't see that alot at home. We spent the evening at the Polynesian Spa where they have numerous natural springs varying in temperature from 37 degrees to a whopping 43 degrees - pretty hot stuff.
The next day we went on a trip to Wai-O-Tapu a thermal wonderland. Our first stop was at the Lady Knox Geyser which erupts everyday at 10.15am prompt. Initially I was mighty impressed that the Geyser operated like clockwork until we arrived and discovered that they put some soap into the Geyser which generates a reaction which causes it to erupt. Non the less 600 tourists a day turn up to see it in action. It looked just like a water fountain once it was going but it was good to see and hear the build up.
Lady Knox Geyser
After the Geyser we headed into the Wai-O-Tapu park where there is a collection of some 25 natural wonders. My personal favorites where the Devil's Bath - a massive crater filled with florescent yellow / green water a result of excess water mixed with Sulphur and ferrous salts and also the Champagne Pools a spring measuring 65m in diameter and 62m deep. The surface temperature is 74 degrees (you don't want to accidentally fall into this one) the bubbles are caused by carbon dioxide and it has all these mad colours caused by various minerals such as mercury, sulphur, arsenic and thallium.
The Champagne Pools
Geothermal activity at it's best
After being dazzled by Wai-O-Tapu the following day we decided to go Zorbing. The Zorb is a massive inflatable sphere which you climb inside. It is then filled with water, sealed and you are rolled down a steep hill. Sounds silly? It's exactly that but we had so much fun we did it twice. At first you are told to stand up and run the down the hill but its not long before you are sliding all over the place and plop out at the end a soaking, giggling mess.
Thumbs up to Zorbing
Got to do that again!
We headed up to Auckland as our last stop in New Zealand. We'd heard alot of bad press about Auckland, mainly people saying it wasn't that good a city. I don't mind it too much, I mean it isn't as good as Wellington and it doesn't blow your sox off but we have spent the last 4 days here quite easily. We made a visit to the Sky Tower regarded as Auckland's premiere tourist attraction and it is bloody high, infact 328m high making it the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere. We went all the way up to the top and were blessed with a clear day so the views were pretty spectacular.
Sky Tower views
Auckland from Waiheke Island ferry
We also made a trip over to Waiheke Island a 35 minute ferry ride from central Auckland. It offers a good mix of white-sand beaches, green farmland and top wineries. It was a welcome change to the "bright lights" of Auckland City. We had some crackling weather so we got some decent walking done and spent the rest of our time chilling out.
So that's New Zealand.
Our Next stop - Raratonga.