When I visited New Zealand 10 years ago as a fresh faced (?) teenager heading to Rotorua was a high priority. With about 20 quid to my name and an ambitious plan to make it to Fiji, visiting the Geysers and boiling mud in Rotorua fell by the wayside. Now was my chance to remedy that and see what this famous place was all about.
We stayed for the night in another DOC (Department of Conservation) campsite at Lake Okereka Scenic Reserve and were immediately accosted by DOC volunteers in high-vis jackets who were strutting around full of self-importance making sure everyone was going to pay the massive $6 entrance fee. It annoyed us, can you tell?
Having said all that they did agree with our opinion of the information centre in town, and many others throughout NZ. Ask the question, “What should we do while we are here?” and you’ll be given a list of trips and their ‘special discounts’. These trips, it turns out, they have a deal with so you walk out feeling less like you’re full of useful info and more like you’ve been pimped out, which is nice.
We plumped for a visit to Te Puia, Maori Arts & Crafts Institute in the end. Quite a pricey place but would give us a rounded view of Rotorua, the mud pools, a huge geyser and lots of Maori culture. It was worth it. We wandered leisurely around this ancient Maori stronghold, trying to avoid the huge gaggles of Chinese tourists, and snapped away on the camera. Strolling the long way round we walked past a huge geothermal boiling pool still used for cooking, pools of bubbling mud and arrived at the Pohutu Geyser, what I’d been waiting for. Erupting around 20 times a day and up to 30m high, it’s the largest active Geyser in the southern hemisphere and leaves you marvelling at this natural wonder.
What stole the show at Te Puia for me though was the Kiwi House. We’d been quietly hoping to see a Kiwi while trekking around, but they’re elusive little buggers and none of them had made the effort to show themselves. Poking it’s way around the nocturnal Kiwi House we saw one from about 2 metres away. Amazing. Far too dark to get pictures from inside unfortunately but I’m pretty sure it looked like this:
A good day out then at Te Puia, plus, I’m not 100% certain but I think we were only charged for one person. Bonus, and probably a more accurate amount for two people in our opinion.
Penny pinching again we called it a day in Rotorua, the most touristy place we’d visited in 6 weeks of touring, and hopped back in the car for the trip to Coromandel, a penisula similar to Golden Bay, but not as good… according to the south islanders.
As usual, click the images to enlarge them:
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