Rotorua New Zealand April 2007
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School break, time to head out of town. Rotorua is located in the center of the North Island, and features geothermal activity, Maori culture, and tourist attractions such that Kiwis like to call it "Roto-Vegas." Our first stop on the way into town was the Wai-o-Tapu geothermal area. A quite remarkable collection of geysers, mineral springs, bubbling pools and the like. When in doubt, stay out of the water in this area, you are likely to get cooked! Also very stinky, with lots of sulphur in the air. (We don't call Rotorua "Fart Town" for nothing!)
We especially liked watching the mud pools blurp and gurgle. Very interesting to live in a place where you can simply dig a hole, drop your food down and have it cooked for you.
No trip to Rotorua would be complete without a trip to the Agrodome sheep show, which is one of New Zealand's most popular tourist attractions. We got a good lesson about wool and various types of sheep. The sheepdog also seems to be enjoying the show as well. You'll be happy to know he is licking the sheep, not attacking.
An interesting park (with an interesting name as well) is Whakarewarewa, (Fahkah Ree Wah Ree Wah - now say it 3 times fast!) where redwood trees were planted about 100 years ago to see if they would be a good choice for the timber industry. They were not - too slow growing. However the trees are doing quite well, and it is very pleasant to walk through the redwood forest with an understory of New Zealand tree ferns.
For heaven on earth I'd vote for kerosene creek! A naturally hot creek - not too hot, not too cold - complete with swimming holes and waterfalls. The only drawback is that it does actually smell like kerosene.
We were a bit cautious about walking around town and the lakefront, as there seemed to be little steaming holes all over the place. One wrong step and your foot is cooked! As woul can see these holes go way down there.
The birds at lake Rotorua didn't seem to mind the hot water and stinky air and were quite happy for us to feed them.
As you can see the various pools at kerosene creek can soak up quite a bit of your spare time whien you visit Rotorua.