New Zealand

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  • Day70

    Rotorua Part 1

    February 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.
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  • Day74

    Sulfure et chute d'eau

    December 20, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Une petite odeur d'oeuf pourri entoure toute cette ville, connue pour ses sources thermiques et ses spa !
    Nous faisons juste un arrêt rapide pour voir le sulfure point, proche du lac, et ses airs de volcan !!
    Le mauvais temps nous pousse à partir plus vite que prévu, pour nous rapprocher du lac Taupo au plus tôt

    On en profite sur le chemin pour voir les chutes de Huka qui sont impressionnantes 🤩

    En bonus: une petite boule de poil qui est venu nous faire des petits calins dans un freecamp 🐱
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  • Jan10

    Kuirau Park

    January 10 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Just a random park in Rotorua with loads of little hot pools, bubbling mud pools and steaming lakes. There's a lot of geothermal activity going on here. Just as everyone said it does smell quite eggy because of the sulphur 🥚

  • Day214

    Our 10th anniversary

    April 8, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Today Laura and I celebrated our 10th anniversary together. Solana joined in the celebrations too, including making us a card and randomly saying "Happy Anniversary" to us throughout the day. We spent most of the day doing volcanic/geothermal activities, so the Earth moved for us on our anniversary! This morning in Taupo we went to some natural hot river pools - free for anyone to access and just at the side of the mighty Waikato river (1st photo). They were fantastic - geothermal hot water runs into the river, so it is like pools of hot bathwater but you can swim directly from them into the freezing cold river to cool off - a special place. After that we went up to Aratiatia Dam, a dam on the same river, that is opened every few hours - we timed our visit for one of these openings and it was quite an impressive sight, seeing thousands of litres of water rushing through to make white water rapids and many new pools in the river beyond the dam (2nd photo). Unfortunately, Solana and I had a fall when we were scrambling down to the viewpoint - it was minor but I now have 2 scraped knees, like a 4-year-old, and a ripped pair of trousers! We had a picnic lunch and then did a walk in the "Craters of the Moon" geothermal area (photos #3 & #4), where we saw many fumaroles (steam vents) and bubbling mud pools - it did look like an other-worldly place... We called into the honey centre on our way out of Taupo and got to see bees in their hives and learn some interesting facts - my favourite of which was that it would only take about 30g of honey to fuel a bee to fly all the way around the world!

    We drove on towards Rotorua, an area famed for its geothermal activity. On the way we visited Wai-O-Tapu, another volcanic area, with some pretty big and impressive sights. There, we saw some larger bubbling mud pools (5th photo), rocks and pools coloured in many different colours and shades by the minerals, more fumaroles (some only a couple of feet from the walkway!). Our favourite was the "Champagne Pools", so-called because of the many bubbles of carbon dioxide they contain (you can see the water actually fizzing), with amazingly striking colours around the edges of the pools (last photo). We arrived in Rotorua around teatime and immediately noticed that what people say about the whole place stinking of sulphur is entirely true! We went out for a delicious Japanese meal for dinner, then finished our celebrations by opening and enjoying the bottle of pink Pelorus fizz that we bought at the Cloudy Bay winery. Our motel room here also has a pool outside the bathroom that you can fill with geothermically heated water - so we made use of that too. It is a bit odd - you climb into it out of the bathroom window(!) but all 3 of us fitted into it easily and it was great to have our own private hot pool.

    Here's to many more adventures during the next 10 years and beyond...
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  • Day215


    April 9, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    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!
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  • Day190

    Lucifers Vorgarten

    August 9, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    Mein Auto, meine Klamotten riechen nach faulen Eiern. Und nein, das ist nicht das Resultat meiner etwas eingeschrenkten Campinghygiene. Es liegt dieser beißende Geruch in der Luft: Schwefel. Aus der hügeligen Landschaft vor mir, aber auch neben der Straße, auf der ich fahre, steigt weißer Rauch aus dem Wald empor. Ist hier das Tor zur Hölle? Es würde jedenfalls eine glaubhaft höllische Kulisse abbilden.

    Hier in Wai-O-Tapu kann man eine Idee davon bekommen, wie des Teufels Vorgarten wohl so gestaltet sein könnte. Ein paar ausladende, graubraune Schlammteiche, in denen es blubbert und immer wieder kleine Matschfontänen aufstoßen. Tiefe Krater, aus denen heißer Dampf aufsteigt, seltsame Felsformationen, an denen das Wasser herunterläuft. Es ist Neuseelands Vulkangebiet und ein Wunderland der tausende Jahre langen geothermalen Aktivität.

    Das Gebiet ist touristisch erschlossen, heißt, man muss Eintritt zahlen und kann zwischen verschiedenen Touriangeboten wählen. Shows mit Maoritänzen inkl. überm Schlammbad gegartem Essen sind der Renner. Es gibt kostenlose Touren und ich schließe mich einer an. Allerdings labert der Typ mir von Anfang an viel zu viel für mich uninteressantes Zeug. Geschichte und so. Klar, Reisen bildet, aber ich will ja nicht als Einstein wiederkommen. Meine Ungeduld siegt und bereits nach wenigen Minuten schleiche ich mich davon und gehe lieber auf eigene Faust los.

    Auch wenn mich der ein oder andere nun für einen Kulturbanausen halten mag: die Maorikultur interessiert mich irgendwie nicht. Ich habe keinen Zugang dazu. Diese wilden, bedrohlich wirkenden Schnitzfiguren. Die Tattowierungen im Gesicht, dieser Kriegstanz, bei dem die Männer ständig ihre Zungen raus strecken. Das alles wirkt immer so kriegerisch und kämpferisch, aggressiv auf mich. Mich fasziniert viel mehr die einmalige Natur und was sie alles zu bieten hat.
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  • Day86


    December 26, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Von Taupo geht es gegen Mittag nach Rotorua, in die Stadt in der es immer nach Schwefel riecht und es an vielen Stellen aus dem Boden blubbert. Wir warten dieses Mal ziemlich lange auf eine Mitfahrgelegenheit. Allerdings wird dann für uns extra ein Umweg von 40 km eingelegt, denn eigentlich möchte unser Fahrer nach Auckland, sodass unser Ziel nicht wirklich auf dem Weg liegt. Als Dank laden wir ihn zum Eis ein und erkunden danach die Stadt. Abends gehen wir dann lecker Essen- es ist ja schließlich Weihnachten. :)Read more

  • Day238

    Preparing to Hit the Road

    January 27, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Today, Xerox and I are at Bunnings (like Home Depot) to grab a couple of extension cords for Kiwi Nash Hash. We're on our way to the airport to collect two hashers from the States. We hit the road tomorrow for hashing on the South Island as we make our way down to Hanmer Springs and the main event. Yay!

    So long [for now] and thanks for all the fish. ✌️
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Rotorua, روتوروا, Роторуа, רוטורואה, ROT, Distretto di Rotorua, ロトルア, როტორუა, 로토루아, Rotorua-nui-a-Kahu, ضلع روٹوروا, 罗托路亚

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