Something has happened where both of us are struggling to write blog entries. It may be because we are doing less or just that having been on the road for nearly 10 months it becomes harder. I was always writing this for myself as a form of diary but I also know that some of my family and friends back home were interested in keeping up to date on our adventure so that does motivate me to write it.
When we planned the trip at the beginning we split the trip up into legs, India was the first, South East Asia was the second, Australia was the fourth and New Zealand the fifth. New Zealand was always where we would take a ‘break’ from travelling as the constant moving from place to place does get tiring. I’ve loved my time in New Zealand and will miss the people and place. I’m sure for Jono it’ll be even harder leaving his family who have all without exception been fantastic people to get to know while we have been living here. I’m sure we’ll write more on this in future blog entries.
Our time in New Zealand has been filled with bursts of ‘tourist’ activities as well as a lot of chilling. Having a base at Jono’s Mum’s has been perfect, it’s been like a home from home. The New Zealand summer has been absolutely brilliant and as New Zealand settles into autumn we are making our plans on what to see and do in South America, our sixth and final leg. I’ve started to re-familiarise myself with a little Spanish, thanks to some free podcasts off iTunes and get a chill every time I think about stepping onto Easter Island, our first stop in South America. Thanks to Twitter, I’ve made some virtual friends out there and I know that in Chile, even with the awful devastation caused by the earthquake it’ll still be ok to go.
Anyway back to what we’ve been upto…..
For me the place that first comes to mind when I think about New Zealand is Rotorua and it was one place I knew I had to see. Since watching a children’s programme back in the late 70’s which I think was set in the geothermal areas of Rotorua, it’s one places that has fascinated me. The show made it look like a magical place with steam rising out of the ground, tattooed people in traditional dress and children having adventures. I did a quick search on the internet but can’t find the name of the programme, if you know then please let me know.
Rotorua town itself is locally know as Roto-vegas or Rotten-rua. I don’t think either are disparaging, the first is because I think it’s a party town and the second is because of the rotten egg smell that lingers around the town from the geothermal activity. The latter is definitely true, when you first arrive it assaults the sense of smell and as soon as you think you’ve got used it another wave of rotten egg hits you smack in the face.
The odd thing is it’s the middle of summer, a lovely hot day but you see steam coming off the ground as you look around. On closer inspection, it’s not a vent for man made steam but naturally occurring and the amazing thing is it’s in the local parks, by the road side and I’m assuming in peoples gardens.
The main place to see the activity is at Whakarewarewa. It’s where you can see the main active geyser spouting plumes of steam into the air. Like clockwork it does this every 30 minutes or so and in the past the plumes of steam have been as high as 30m. When we were there it was an impressive 10m and we timed it just right to miss all the crowds to get a good view.
I think that’s pretty much all there is to see, maybe in the winter the mud pools may have more water so be a little more impressive. Personally, I thought the ones at the Craters of the Moon were much better. The entry fee can be combined with a cultural show, which I was really keen to do as you get to see the Haka performed. I feel like Simon Cowell at this point by saying it was pretty average, it came across that they did the same performance two or three times a day, seven days a week.
For me Rotorua will be memorable for another reason, we stayed in a motel room with a Spa Bath and I couldn’t resist trying it out. It’s memorable because it’s the first bath I’ve taken since we left home. For those of you who know me I love my baths and sitting relaxing with the bubbles I realised I’d missed it.
I think it’s worth mentioning that we’d been to Rotorua before for a day trip as it doesn’t take too long to get there from Waihi. That time we explored the surrounding area with it’s lakes and mountains. That day the lakes were the highlight, there were two lakes next to each other, one was a deep blue colour and the other was green. It was amazing to see them side by side.
Some places for me live up to my expectations such as when I saw Angkor Wat for the first time. Others don’t, the Sphinx in Egypt was one. At the time I was really disappointed as it was much smaller than I had imagined, so close to civilisation and not in some desert oasis. Rotorua was the same, it is one of the most active geothermal sites in the world but I couldn’t help feel it’s past it’s sell by date. However, many years later I look back in marvel at the Sphinx, it truly is amazing and can’t even imagine why I was disappointed at the time and maybe I’ll feel the same about Rotorua.
( If you did not get to see the videos in the blog entry from Kaikoura of the Whale and Dolphins, click here as I think something went wrong with those who have registered to get an email. They are in the body of the post.)