The next stop on our adventure is the imposing Rotorua, a geologically active area. Upon approach we see random steam vents by the roadside, in the golf course and in residential backyards. The city is nestled between gently rolling mountain ranges, with Lake Rotorua in the centre. The landscape is perfect for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies alike, and we aim to be both.
The hotel water is naturally heated from the thermal aquifer below, as are the spa’s pools beside us. The one draw back to this convenient heat source is the sulpher smell that permeate the entire area. Anxious to investigate the health claims of these hot mineral pools, I head over to the Polynesian Spa at night. I’m just in time to view a fireworks display from the thermal pool beside Lake Rotorua. The evening is quite cool and breezy, intensifying the effects of the hot water. I’m sceptical of the claim of eternal beauty, but it was very relaxing!
The next morning is slated for adventure, starting with a Skyline gondola ride up the mountainside. The thrill seekers among us (of which I am not due to my utter fear of heights) take a ride on the canyon swing. This looks very similar to a giant slingshot, first pulling you up past the tree line and then over the side of the mountain at G force speeds, and back again like a pendulum. The most memorable part was when 10 year old Kristen counted down from 3 before pulling the release latch, only to have it hold fast! It was several long seconds and three people trying before it let go. We completed our morning with a luge ride and a short hike to see the glorious vistas.
For the afternoon and evening, we head to Te Puia for an authentic Maori experience and geyser tour. The experienced guide takes us to the geyser at full eruption, the mud pools, the kiwi enclosure and Maori village, including the carving and weaving schools. We are then treated to a concert which includes a Haka War dance, Poi dance and traditional Maori love song, Pokarekare Ana. After a customary dinner prepared in a Hangi pit (super heated rocks are placed in a pit to create a giant crock pot) we go back down to view the geyser at night.
So ends a very full day of natural sights, fun activities and local culture. Whatever will tomorrow bring?!