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I wanted YHA staff to help me decide what activities to do. After all, wouldn’t they know best? One of the draws for visitors to Rotorua is the area’s geothermal activity. Steam rises from cracks in the pavement and there’s a lingering sulphur smell in the air. Erupting hot water, steaming fumaroles, mud pools and hot geothermal springs are the norm in Rotorua.
I couldn’t wait to start exploring the geothermal hotspot, but first I stopped at YHA Rotorua and let the staff help me plan my two days.
Taking a tranquil Gondola ride up the side of Mt Ngongotaha and then speeding down the hill on the luge track amidst a redwood forest was a great start to a Rotorua day. Theis only a few minutes from Central Rotorua and has walking tracks, mountain biking trails, cultural experiences, adventure activities and a restaurant all with scenic views of Rotorua’s geothermal wonderland.
A stone’s throw from the Gondola I met some of Rotorua’s locals at
I visited the kiwi hatchery where Kiwi eggs are gathered from the wild, incubated and hatched. The young chicks are eventually released back into the wild. Rainbow Springs is New Zealand’s largest and most successful kiwi conservation centre. YHA Rotorua staff have even volunteered at Rainbow Springs, deep cleaning the brooder room in the Kiwi Encounter in preparation for the newest baby Kiwi chick.
In the evening I soaked in the
Local Maori bathed for centuries in the acidic pool, “Te Pupunitanga,” now called Priest’s Bath. It’s renowned for its healing properties. I’m not sure any of my ailments were healed in the waters, but I did enjoy Rotorua’s unique geothermal activity as it rained—the coolness a welcome relief while soaking in 40⁰C hot pools!
The next day I visited
Bubbling, sizzling and frying sounds, running water and birdsong accompanied me on my walk after which I soaked in a private mud bath. I allowed the special qualities of the mud to settle over my skin. It made me think that this was a grown-up way of playing in the mud. Fun!
In the evening, the
The evening began with a greeting by the Maori warriors in traditional dress before we were allowed into the village. We wandered through the village, looking at Maori art forms, ancient rituals and traditions, experiencing song and dance and finally sharing a three course meal with our Maori hosts. It was a glimpse into a past way of life for the Maori and an interesting cultural introduction for travellers curious about New Zealand’s indigenous people.
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