chilling feet

chilling feet

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Sulphur Awakening to the Nostrils

(Geyser galore - they do use some detergent of some kind to get this guy
started but they swore up and down that it is not bad for the environment
or the geyser to do so.  I guess we will take their word)
Rotorua, or second lake in Maori, is quite the magical place.  In all of my attempts at finding a way to combine some other portion of our North Island Blitz with this post I failed. There is just too much to talk about in reference to our time spent here.

Gordon and Miriam and traversed these lands before us and had warned us of the one overwhelmingly noticeable fact about Rotorua - it smells a little funny.  Rotorua is home to a lot, and I mean a lot, of geothermal activity.  There are hot pools bubbling up out of almost every nook and cranny imaginable. The first few pictures are taken from the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland - yes that is a real place and yes it is a thermal wonderland.
(Seriously, just because there is sulphur involved doesn't mean we need to
associate everything with the devil do we?  It was pretty scary though and
I could understand why this name was chosen)
We arrived at this thermal wonderland in a race to beat the clock.  Everyday at 10:15am they set off the Lady Knox geyser, which is named after Lady Constance Knox.  You can click on the link for more information if you're interested.  We were unaware that the park sets off the geyser (well I was unaware but Sarah suspected as much from her pre-Rotorua trip reading) by dumping some environmentally safe detergent into it each day. Otherwise Lady Knox is apparently temperamental and one can never tell when she is going to "go off" so to speak. I shall resist making any references to any females I know who are likewise temperamental as I have never met such a one - I swear.  No really this is not some way of talking about anyone passive aggressively. Seriously, stop it.

(There was an urge to want to jump in and experience these hot pools. But
some of them are way too hot while others have arsenic and other deterrent
reasons to suggest diving in might be a bad idea)
There really was something quite unique about being around so many thermal phenomenons.  And I'll tell you who could not get enough of this was Sarah - she loved just stopping and looking out at the steam, bubbling mud, and boiling water.  It was all entrancing to look at for certain and there is a strange rawness to the entire deal.  It feels so primeval and powerful, as if nature is saying, "Hey I know you think you're something special and all of that, but I'm not sure if you noticed I'm flippin' amazing."  The thermal park was about a two hour long walk vast display of nature's amazingness and we enjoyed our time there for certain!

(The Redwood forrest - yep - they brought them over here too.  Not quite
as big as the CA Redwoods yet but they are growing)
So perhaps you're asking yourself, "Self, is that all Rotorua has to offer?  A bunch of kind of stinky thermal experiences?"  Well I'm glad you were wondering because the answer is a resounding "no."  As seen in this next photo, Rotorua also hosts a fantastic forrest which is host to some massive Redwood trees.  Clearly seen in the photo, Sarah and I enjoyed ourselves immensely as we spent time walking past these behemoths!  Another must on our list from our scouts and another great suggestion on their part as if anyone ever finds themselves in this area the Redwoods are a must!

(Hangi - or the word the Maori use to describe their underground cooking
technique.  It was quite delicious and very traditional)
(We're at the top of the world, ay, the top of the world, ay)
So that's quite a bit for one area and surely there is no more anyone could possibly fit into one spot right?  Wrong.  Not only is the North Island a home to many natural wonders but it also has the majority of Maori people living on it as well - this was where most of the Maori lived back in the day because as they say it's just too "darn cold" down on that South Island.  Apparently this is what most Kiwis think as well.  We were a little hesitant to engage in a Maori experience as we were afraid the overall deal would be a little "cheesy" as opposed to serious and respectful.  Out of all the options that exist we decided on the Matai family Maori experience mostly due to their use of the Waka (war canoe/boat) in their evening experience .  Not only did it end up being worth the cost of the experience, but we ended up feeling that it would have been terrible if we had left New Zealand without having truly experienced the Maori (there will be some videos at the bottom we took that night).

There is so much to experience in the Rotorua area and we were game for as much of it as possible.  If you ever find yourself in New Zealand make sure and plan a few days around the activities in, around, and near Rotorua.  As always a few pics to show the true trip.
(The wonderful walkway through the thermal park - see how happy Sarah is in this place)
(One of my favorites - if not - is the fantail.  They are so amazing and they are constantly chirping, looking for insects to eat.  I picture them as little ninja birds looking for the next meal)
(One of the trails through the thermal park - I sort of wished I was running it.  Amazing)
(Not even sure what we were taking a picture of here.  The earth is truly a spectacular place)
(The arsenic I mentioned earlier - the orangish color shows the arsenic.  Make sure you jump past that if you're going to get in this bad boy)
(Hot pools are one thing, but green pools of straight up awesomeness??  Wow)
(This trail through the Redwood forest captured my entire being somehow - it just went so far in one direction!!)
(Fanciest outdoor bathrooms I've ever seen - seriously - they are sculptures)
(The Blue Lake)
(The Green Lake)
(The Rainbow Rock)
(The trail up to the top of the hill up Rainbow Rock)
(The view from the top!!)
(The amazingly strange pool on the way back down)