After driving through Rotorua quickly to get to Mount Manganui, went back to see some more of the thermal sites, and to find out where that awful smell comes from. We stopped in the municipal park, to see where the steam was coming out of the ground. There were steaming hot lakes, and mud pools with little mud bubbles plopping up every few seconds. But most noticeable of all was the hideous sulphuric stink which rose with the steam. It was revolting and made us feel a bit sick. Its an amazing geological phenomenon, but we wish it didn’t smell so bad.
Then we drove over to Te-Whakarewarewatanga-o-te-Ope-Taua-a-Wahiao, which is the best main thermal and Maori cultural attraction in the town. In between the geysers and thermal hot pools, the Maori houses are dotted around, delicately avoiding hot vents and collapsing ground. In places the ground was covered by a thin, hot crust, and walls and paths seemed to be collapsing into new holes every few steps. Some of the water reaches 120 degrees, so it pays to watch your step! As well as heating and baths, the thermal pools are also used for cooking, with vents used for steaming meals, and the hot pools used for boiling vegetables. Despite the rotten-egg smell, the girls both enjoyed a mineral-soaked boiled sweet corn, straight out of one of the thermal pools.
We also went to the Maori concert, with eight Maori dressed in traditional costumes, performing traditional songs and dances. But, of course, we were all waiting for them to do the haka, made famous by the New Zealand rugby team. Sitting in the front row, four feet from the tongues, it seemed pretty scary, so I can imagine what its like with 15 huge rugby players doing it. Charlotte thought it was great, but Emily was a bit intimidated by it – so much so that she didn’t want to stand with them for a photograph!
We queued for a photo too after the show, and decided to take it as seriously as the Maori troop did. You can see what the Maori lady on my left thought about it! All in all we had a good time, but at the end of the day we were so happy to be leaving town, and leaving the rotten smell behind. Last time we travelled we stayed in Rotorua, and we even cooked mussels for dinner – given the smell we’ve got no idea how we did it!