This weekend we went to Rotorua and it didn’t disappoint! We set off on Saturday morning and arrived at Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland just after 9.30 (this is the one in all the famous Rotorua pictures). It started off with a trip to the Lady Knox Geyser which erupts at 10.15am everyday –sounds suspicious –turns out it is! Every day at 10.15 the guide puts eco-friendly soap into the geyser and this creates a reaction and it erupts.
The rest of the park was absolutely amazing. It was a mixture of mud pools, hot springs, fumaroles –out of this world. The old ‘who farted’ joke was cracked a few times due to the eggy smell that fills the whole city not just the parks. I must say the highlight for me was the famous champagne pool blue with a bright orange surround and the devils cauldron a bright green pool! It was amazing and the heat from the steam was incredible it blew across steaming up everyone’s sunglasses as they tried to take photos.
After this we did something we had wanted to do for a very long time –we had our very first Wendy’s. It was sad how excited we were but it was very tasty and made Chris’ day to be honest. I had an avocado bacon burger –pretty special.
We were booked in at Hells Gate at 1.30pm for a ‘Combo Package’. This is another geothermal park but it is completely different to Wai O Tapu. Everything is so close to the track and you can stand within feet of a bubbling mud volcano! Our guide was brilliant (shout out to Jaxon), the highlight was when he told us he ate some of the ‘healing mud’ and had to power walk the rest of the tour back to the toilet. After the 2.5km walk we got the opportunity to carve our own Maori coasters I chose the symbol for loyalty, Chris chose strength (typical man). I thought I would be crap but my coaster tuned out pretty cool, Chris tried to be too artistic and his ended up looking more like a yucca plant than a mat.
As part of the package we got to try out the mud pools and then the sulphur spa. The mud pools were great you got to cover yourself in mud and it had many health benefits I’m told (to be honest I felt more like a pig in mud after my Wendys). The sulphur spa was lovely but I still can’t get the smell of egg out of my bikini (this will be interesting next time I hit the pool).
That night we went to Fat Dog Café –recommended by Lonely Planet (standard), those of you who know me know I live my life by Lonely Planet and I love it! We had the ‘Dogs Bollox’ burger (I know another burger) and I finished it off (see picture below and make your own mind up whether you are proud or disgusted).
We stayed at the Funky Green Voyager backpackers and it was a small chilled little hostel that I think was a few houses that had been converted. It was a quirky style and our room was set on its own in a cabin style we really enjoyed it here.
Sunday morning we were booked in at the Luge (a go karty style thing) you get a gondola to the top of the mountain and then whizz down and then back to the top again on a ski style lift. We had 4 turns booked the first was easy, then intermediate and then advanced. We had a go on all 3 I found the advanced a bit scary but Chris reassured me he was going down it again as he was a pro but funnily enough he came down the intermediate with me (he said he wanted to overtake me –yeah right). The photos from that overtake were pretty funny me with a face like thunder and Chris looking like a kid on Christmas. I was later to discover on a video that Chris kindly took of me that I wasn’t going as quick as I thought and I looked more like Madge from Benidorm on a mobility scooter.
We stopped off at Okere Falls to watch some white water rafters conquer a 6ft waterfall it looked amazing and we plan to do this with our friends when they come over in January (sorry Stace).
We then had some time to fill so we had a trip to the museum and then Rotorua Lake. We people watched some tourists take pictures with seagulls on their heads and then set of for our Tamaki Maori experience.
Now we were both pretty nervous about this as we didn’t know what to expect. When we arrived we were told not to laugh, smile or mimic them as they greeted us with the Haka I must say it was pretty intimidating and it set everyone on edge (the tourist who was nominated our chief and looked like Ed Sheeran looked like he might cry). It was very moving and after this welcoming they told everyone to relax and have fun. We were then shown into the main village where we were taught all about the culture and the practices they used in them days (Chris did the Haka). We had a cultural performance and then the highlight – Hangi! This was a traditional Maori meal cooked underground it was amazing –with additions (I’m pretty sure they didn’t have aioli and gravy in them days). It was a great experience and it opened our eyes to their culture I would highly recommend it.
We didn’t get home until 11.30pm that night but it was the best weekend yet!