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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Day 309-311: Rotarua stinks (literally...but not figuratively)

You know you are approaching Rotarua long before you reach the township. This is not because of the useful road signs - though this is New Zealand, every tiny thing is absurdly well signposted – it's because you can quite literally smell it coming a mile off. Wind down your windows and as you cruise through the wooded highway up from Taupo that putrid scent of rotten eggs will fill your nostrils by the time you reach Waipa.

Rotarua is a big attraction on the 'Thermal Explorers Highway' (see what I mean? Short of just signposting a road as Highway 5 it also gets the catchy-name signpost...see The Southern Scenic Route for further examples of this Kiwi-craze) and the thermal activity here means that sweet sulphuric smell abounds (boo!) and that you can dip your feet in naturally heated water from mother earth while waiting for the bus (yay!)

The town has really tapped into it's natural resources (well, there was no glossing over it...) and there are loads of spas / natural baths / hot water pools / geothermic hot water spa and pools in the vicinity, all charging something-or-other for the privilege of bathing in the magical waters or rubbing warm mud over your nearest and dearest...actually I would have rather liked to do the latter but our budget would not have ($140 per person?! You're having a laugh!) Instead we took a stroll around the free Kuirau Park, a glorious spot right by the town centre where mud pools bubble and steam spouts out of the ground right before your eyes. It really is quite something to see.

We also took a walk around the Government Gardens which sidle up to the south-west corner of Lake Rotarua. Not as spectacular as Lake Taupo before it, but worth a wander around for sure. We even came across a batting-cage (Rob assures me this is the right name for it, but just in's like a driving range, but with baseball bats and balls) where one bucket of balls soon turned into three and much fun and miss hits (mostly me) were had by all.

It may claim to the cultural heart of New Zealand (it does have the largest Mauri population and, to it's credit, even the whitest European-settler-types pronounce it rrrro-ti-rrrr-rua with real rolling r's in the classic Mauri twang) but it is still Kiwi enough to cater to the needs of adrenalin junkies such as it seems I have become. So after a childhood of wandering what it felt like when Hayley Duncan's hamster accidentally rolled down the stairs in it's ball; I went Zorbing.

And not just any Zorbing – Hydro Zorbing. And I am happy to confirm that it is pretty much like the best water park ride you'll ever go's so much fun. After diving super-man style into a big inflatable ball partially filled with water I had to walk it onto the down-hill track where I was washed around, splashing and sliding from one bump to another, until arriving at the bottom a minute or so later ready for this awful snap to be taken...that's pure joy right there. That's not what poor Sandy looked like after his trip down the stairs though, I can tell you that for nothing.

Rotorua had treated us well but there was one more thing that made us stay on in this wonderful stinky town for another afternoon...but I can't write about just yet.

It's very good and very exciting and I'm just waiting to receive the ...hmm... the documentation, and then I'll tell all :)


  1. Trish says

    Golf next then RobBob? xxx

  2. you sure know how to keep a person hanging..dying to know the rest now - there are all sorts of strange suggestions flying around the house here as to what it might be - most likely all wrong.... documentation... whatever could that be?? Please tell all SOOOOOON - PS I loved it there despite the smell which was probably as bad then as it is now!! and zorbing--na not for me! Did Rob do it?

  3. ha! what are the suggestions? i bet you get it...go on, have a go...

    and no, Rob didn't zorb because he's a chicken...not really, he just didn't fancy it. madness i tell thee - i'd recommend it to anyone :)

  4. Loved zorbing when I was there. You did good skipping out on the mud bath. The mud was really just a fine silt maybe 1/4 inch thick that sat on the bottom of a pool filled with water.

    I was expecting a pool full of thick mud, not the case. Worst of all, the shirts we put on after getting out of the mud pool stunk like Rotarua for the rest of our trip. I'd say they still smelt about a month afterwords too, despite repeated washings.

  5. on no! I guess it just goes to show that being a total cheapskate pays off sometimes... :)