Geezers And Geysers
Rotorua Travel Blog› entry 26 of 117 › view all entries
The first thing you notice once you arrive in Rotorua is the smell. I've produced nicer smells after eating a McDonald's and even though you think you will get used to the smell of rotten eggs, the odd gust of wind reminds you that you are in a geothermal area where the smell of sulpher in the air is a downside to some of the geothermal wonders you get to witness.
We were fortunate that we nailed a good hostel for what is, believe it or not, our longest stop so far, at four nights. It feels more like a hotel than a hostel, which is a welcome change, and we couldn't believe how friendly the landlady is. Within minutes she had booked us up for our first day, with a visit to Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal park open to the public.
Our chariot was to be driven by Tim, a colourful Maori character - colourful both in personality and in his outrageous Hawaiin shirt. If he was as enthusiastic about holding onto the steering wheel and not driving on the hard shoulder as he was with his anecdotes, he might have been my favourite ever taxi driver. Plus, he had a laugh just like that of Krusty The Clown and a face of comedy genius. A legend in our eyes.
One of the highlights of the geothermal park is the geyser, Lady Knox. Scheduled to erupt daily at 10:15 on the dot, the crowds come far and wide to witness the hot waters spouting up to 20 metres in the air. Nothing too mysterious about the timing, the eruption is caused by the adding of soap suds into the crater, causing the 5-minute explosion.
We headed to the park main, and took the 3km walkway around the wonders the park offers. Highlights were the Champagne Pool, a pool with a surface temperature of 74C, bubbling from carbon dioxide, and the mud pools, or Devil's Ink Pots, which explode with goo every so often due to the heat beneath. Each turn seems to present another feature and another colour and smell - from the luminous greens of the Devil's Bath to the horrific smell of the Opal Pool.
Tim then took us back from the park to his home village, where he took us to a bare area of land between two houses, where his final anecdote described how he burned his house down 40 years ago, at the age of two. Still bemused, we had a bit of an explore before heading back for din dins.