RotoruaApril 9, 2017 in New Zealand
We spent today inhaling the smell of sulphur and soaking up a bit of Maori culture. We visited Whakarewarewa, a Maori village on the outskirts of Rotorua, that is still home to a couple of dozen Maori families today. The village is all built around a highly geothermally active area, with fumaroles, bubbling mud and geysers dotted around! It doesn't seem like the safest of places to build a community but there are definitely some advantages. The geothermal hot water is used for bathing, homes effectively have natural (and free) underfloor heating and the hot water pools and underground chambers are used for cooking food. We got to eat some corn-on-the-cob that had been cooked in one of the pools - tasty. We also saw a Maori cultural performance, including a traditional welcome song, dancing and of course, a haka (traditional pre-war display, designed to scare away the enemy), and also had a tour of the village by one of its residents. It was all pretty touristy but I think a bit less so than some of the other tours on offer, as at least this one is still a living, working village.
Afterwards we went for lunch. I am not usually one for visiting the same restaurant twice when we're travelling but we all enjoyed the Japanese meal so much last night that we couldn't resist returning today! We enjoyed a great sushi platter, all prepared right in front of us by the chef. Solana ate prawn and rice, so it seems she has deemed marine crustaceans not to be animals! Then we went to Kuirau Park near the town centre, a natural park with yet more geothermal pools and fumaroles, including some foot baths where you can soak your feet after a walk around the park. There were quite a few areas that looked like they had recently been cordoned off - it looks like there are new steaming vents opening up quite regularly here. Once again there was a kids play park, which Solana loved, but which was situated right next to one of the cordoned off areas - I'm not sure health & safety has gone as wild in NZ as it has in Britain!Read more