Holy smokes, I Live in New Zealand.

June 27, 2008, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Actual Travelling | Tags: ,

I heard Rotorua described as “the Niagara Falls of New Zealand” on a few occasions.  I’ll agree with that to a point.  The shopping district is full of souvenir shops and daytime hours only, and it is the forces of nature that draw people to the area.

Rotorua sits on a key geothermal hot spot, so the area is full of hot springs and geysers.  It was in this area that the legendary volcanic eruptions that created many of the North Island’s larger lakes (and saddest stories) occurred.  There is a high sulphur content in the water, and much of the city smells like rotten eggs.  Even the surrounding countryside has the odour, as evidenced in my drive from the airport.

(Edited to add: the sad story referred to above is the Mount Tarawera eruption.)

rotorua 053

Full album here.

European settlement occurred in the late 1800s, drawn to the hot springs as a health care and spa retreat.  The main bath house is now a museum.  In the photo album you will see a picture of the old bath house and adjacent Government Gardens.  This was an old banner photo of mine from back in January and February.

Maori settled in the area several hundred years ago.  The springs made for good cooking; in fact, the surface of the earth is so warm that it flows through your shoes and up into your body in places.  Rotorua is a centre of Maori culture and settlement, and there are several places that offer a Maori village experience.  Any visitor to a Maori marae (sort of like a “village centre” in that village life focusses upon it, it is a very spiritual place) is challenged by the community. This involves facing/manning up to the aggressive moves of the community’s warriors and, after all is said and done and you are not classified as a threat, accepting their peace offering. Hard to describe, and great to experience (way beyond touristy tacky…way beyond…). This is what it looks like. 

Alternate link

(Editor’s note: This is my 150th New Zealand post.  I’ve been in New Zealand for 278 days – in fact, my 400,000th minute in New Zealand was spent in bed this morning – including today.  I’m moving at an every-other-day posting rate.  Awesome.)