Monday, June 14, 2010

Rotorua and Lake Taupo

What a weekend. It started with picking DH up from Auckland airport, after a dark and wet drive we arrived late night in Rotorua, to the faint background smell of sulfur...

Up early on Saturday to visit the Wai-o-tapu thermal area, in order to make sure we got the Lady Knox Geyser at 10:15 am. Since we were early we were able to spend about 40 minutes walking around two of the three tracks they have outlined in the area. It was interesting to see the changing water colours, the bubbling pools and the constant supply of mist across the waters.

After a 400m drive at 10:10 am we arrived at the Lady of Knox geyser. They stimulate the geyser so it goes off at the same time each day, the secret? Environmentally friendly soap, otherwise there is no knowing when it will spout or how high it will go. After this we took a detour past some mud baths, which due to all the rain looked more like muddy water, but still you got the idea.
We left the Wai-o-tapu wonderland to visit the Buried Village. Unbeknown to us it was the 124th anniversary of the Mt Tarawera eruption, so entry was free! You start in the museum, then weave your way through the surrounding area to see what they have uncovered over the year.

By this stage we were both a little hungry and took a detour via Rotorua town centre for a stop at Capers. A cafe/deli that has a set menu for breakfast and dinner, but has a great selection of sandwiches and salads behind a glass cabinet, as well as hot selections including a wonderful seafood chowder. Highly recommended.

After a hearty lunch we decided to test the weather and visit the Rotorua Redwood forest, or the Whakarewarewa forest. We took the shortest walk, 30 minutes at a easy pace and were interested to find out that the Redwoods in Rotorua, although imported from California grow at twice the rate due to the nutrient rich volcanic soil.

After a brief rest in our hotel, we got picked up for our evening at the Mitai Village. This is a maori cultural experience, with the hungi (underground cooked meal), performance that includes a waka (canoe), as well as the haka (dance) and a walk through their grounds. The meal was wonderful, due to the cooking process the meat just fell off the bone and was so tender. The highlight of the evening though was the add on option of visiting the local kiwi birds at Rainbow Springs, the endangered local birds are so cute, but so hard to protect in the wild and the work they are doing at Rainbow Springs is something people should pay close attention to.

Next? Our day at Lake Taupo.

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