Rotorua Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Rotorua is an active geothermal area and as such the whole place smells of rotten eggs. Thereâs no escaping the smell but you soon get used to it. They have bubbling sulphurous pools in the main park and new ones are popping up randomly from time to time. The main bonus (as far as Caz was concerned) is that there is no shortage of geothermal heating and everywhere has a hot tub or spa. Even the main bus stop has a small pool for weary travellers to dip their feet in. There are also very frequent earthquakes in the area, although we did miss one because we thought it was the people upstairs being noisy!
We started sedately enough walking round one of the active geothermal valleys, a bit like Yellowstone with nice vegetation and no bison or bears. Then we decided to splash out on a proper tour to White island, NZâs only active marine volcano.
The island is about 27 miles off the east coast so it was a very relaxing 1Â˝ hour trip on a swanky catamaran. On arrival we were issued with gas masks and hard hats to protect us if there was a sudden eruption (Iâm still not convinced they would have been any use, Iâm sure they were just to make you look like a womble.) The guided tour of the island was great, taking us round the main active areas and for a look into the main crater lake which was full of a bubbling very acidic liquid. (The scientists said it was pH -0.6, so that must be true). We then got to see the remains of a sulphur mining factory from the early 20th century that was wiped out after one of the more vigorous recent eruptions. (Only Peter the cat survived).
For our final day in Rotorua I convinced Caz that is was a about time she did something exhilarating so she chose to go White water rafting.
I donât think so, however Simon did tempt me to get the gondola up the side of Mount Ngongotaha and luge down again, not once but five times.
Itâs called a luge but we werenât convinced it really was, the brochure describes it as a âfun-filled gravity ride on a 3-wheel cart using a unique breaking and steering systemâ.
We went on all three tracks, each taking far less time to complete than the ride in the cable-car back up.
( Unfortunately no photos for you, because we were too busy hurtling down the hill at high speed).
No photos from the Kiwi encounter at the bottom of the hill either, because these are extremely shy and sensitive birds.
The Kiwi encounter is a working hatchery and nursery (we were lucky enough to see a couple of baby kiwis), once they are mature and heavy enough they are then released back into the wild from the same area that the egg came from.
Kiwi Encounter teaches people all about the kiwi, from their unique and endearing characteristics (I can only describe them as the most extraordinary bumbling birds), their habitat and behaviour, and just how at risk of becoming extinct this important bird is.
A few hundred years ago there were millions of kiwis in New Zealand. Today the population is declining so rapidly that the number of kiwis approximately halves every ten year.
Fortunately Kiwi Encounter can help the Kiwis fight back. In addition to educating the public about these special birds, they are also part of the Kiwi Recoveryâs âOperation Nest Eggâ programme managed by the Department of Conservation.
*â The success rate for the survival of young kiwi released back into the wild as part of this programme is 60%, compared to 5% for those left in the wild without human interventionâ.
We were then part of small group that was taken through, to see a few of the captive kiwis. (These are a small number of kiwis that have come various zoos.
Although these kiwis can not be released back into the wild, they can be used as part of breeding and education programmes).
It takes an awful lot of man hours and money to raise and look after the kiwis. This means that Kiwi Encounter relies on the guided tours to generate money, people sponsoring the kiwis, donations and a volunteers programme (which according to their literature is still in itâs fledling stage, which made I laugh).
Well worth a visit if you like nature and youâre in the area.