Rotorua Part 1February 18 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C
Chris, Donna and I are in Rotorua for a few nights, but staying in an Air Bnb house, just on the outskirts of the town. You have to know that Rotorua is nick-named The Sulphur City as it has a rather unique, pungent aroma - somewhat like rotten eggs...
The whole town is built over a geothermal area and apparently there is nowhere quite like this area in all of New Zealand. It is lovely. Numerous lakes, lush green forests, steaming hotspots and natural hot pools are inside and outside of this town. Views are always changing so we didn’t have fun trying to decide which photos to include.
Rotorua can be an expensive place to visit but we were able to visit some wonderful places on a
6 km walk, all for free. I will make this blog into two footprints as we have so many good photos.
We started in Kuirau Park, a free public park in the northern end of Rotorua. Walking trails lead to numerous areas of vigorous geothermal activity. We were assured that as long as we stayed on the cool side of the safety fences, it would be generally quite safe. New eruptions do occur from time to time.
In 2001 mud and rocks the size of footballs were suddenly hurled 10 metres into the air as a new steam vent spontaneously announced its arrival. Two years later, similar eruptions provided a real bonus for delighted visitors.
In early Maori times the small lake in the park was much cooler and was known as Taokahu. Legends tell a story about a beautiful young woman named Kuiarau who was bathing in the waters when a taniwha (legendary creature) dragged her to his lair below the lake. The gods above were angered and made the lake boil so the Taniwha would be destroyed forever. From that time on, the bubbling lake and the steaming land around it have been known by the name of the lost woman, although the spelling has changed a little.
In one area of the park, there was a long trough with hot water in it. We took our socks and shoes off and soaked our feet in the hot water. So nice...
From the park, we walked to the Maori village of Ohinemutu. This place is home to the Ngāti Whakaue tribe, who gifted the land on which the city of Rotorua was built. The location was chosen for its lakeside setting and abundant geothermal energy, used for cooking, bathing and heating.
The whole town seems to steam. As we walked along we could clearly hear hissing and bubbling sounds. Houses occupied by locals are dotted about amongst this bubbling activity and we kind of wondered how the villagers can live there. And then there is the rotten egg smell. I guess they have gotten used to it.
We passed a community centre with lots of old carvings on it. Stories are told in the carvings (whakairo) with every swirl and cut having a meaning. This keeps the Maori history, culture and identity alive.
A little further we watched a large group of kids on a school field trip learning Maori games with sticks. Wouldn’t you know, we met one of the teachers, Evan Harrison, whose sister teaches grade 1 at King George School in Guelph!!! That’s the school Chris taught at for his whole career and the school that our grandkids go to now. What a small world.
Walking on we saw a pretty church and decided to go in. As churches go, St. Faith’s Anglican Church is tiny, but it packs a hefty punch. Once you step inside, your senses are assaulted from all sides.
It is intimate and cozy and is covered with vibrant Maori carvings (whakairo), wall panels (tukutuku) along with Māori and European decorations of stained glass. One of the windows features a etched glass image of Christ wearing a Maori cloak, appearing to walk on the waters of Lake Rotorua, visible through the glass.
Behind the church is a military graveyard and memorial. The tombs are above-ground due to the geothermal activity.Read more