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Rotorua

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Who visits Rotorua never will forget the smell, you can be sure about that. It is not consequence of the population's flatulency or happy farting sheep on the fields, but the result of volcanic and thermal activities in the area. Rotorua is on the so called Taupo Volcanic Zone, that extends for more than 250 Km making part of the "Pacific ring of fire". Geysers, water vapours, gases, bubbling mud, boiling lakes and many other consequences these thermal activities can be found in the surroundings of Rotorua.

 The constant aroma of eggs from last night, are in reality emanations of Carbon dioxide, Sulphur dioxide and small amounts of chlorine and fluoride. Even walking on the streets the smelly tourist (or his nose) will find many "Genius of the Lamp", popping around in different places. One place that concentrates lots of these activities is the Kuirau Park in Ranolf Street (photo). It is public and free to have a walk on the park and see some lakes and mud boiling right in front of you. If you feel ready for a relaxing bath, there are some public tubs you can use. For a bigger and better sensation, the options is the Polynesian Spa at the lake frontage. There, big pools can handle a bus of tourist at once, with different temperatures in each pool. Another tip to see a great natural show of thermal activity (also free), is to wake up with the penguins (at the sunrise) and go to the lake margin to see the first lights of the morning, illuminating some parts of the lake and provoking a mist of coloured vapours that emerges from the lake. (see photo at the bottom of this page). The worst thing about the smell in Rotorua, it that after a couple of days I was loving it. I became addict to that big smell.

 

 Lake Rotorua is big and has crystalline fresh waters. It is the converging point of the city built around the lake. Rotorua lake is in reality a huge volcanic crater, dormant for thousand of years and sealed with a cork, I mean, a "volcanic plug" which is the last point of eruption this a volcano had before go to sleep. The plug can be seen on the photo in this paragraph, represented by the little Island in the middle of the lake. Lake Roturua is not an extinct volcano yet. On the margins of the lake, and in front of the town of Rotorua, the impressed tourist will find plenty activities to do. From jet boats to trout fishing, or a dinner on a boat cruising the lake, there are plenty of  tours and activities to choose from. Also in front of the city centre, a beautiful garden and park gives peaceful and bucolic views of the lake with many ducks and other birds, ready to receive from tourists, the bread of every day. If you are not copping very well with the smell, there are alternatives such as a tour in a Hydro-plane, of have a bird eye views of the lake and surrounding participating in one of the many heli-tours offered. Of course all this thing about the smell is a joke, and you will feel it just in some parts of the town where thermal activities are intense.

The Centre of Rotorua is very clean and beautiful, and the locomotion inside the city is very easy or as Kiwis say.." A piece of Cake". The city was built in a rectangular shape, so all venues and streets are parallel to each other. There are a good number of retail shops, banks, restaurants, fast food, convenience shops, souvenir shops, pubs and nightclubs. The tourist infra structure is complete and efficient. Hotels, Backpacker Hostels, Bread and Breakfast and Motels are plenty, with a broad range of prices to choose from. Accommodation in Rotorua is expensive only if you are ready to pay that much other way if you do a research in town you will find very good accommodations for a bargain price. (except on the end of the year and July, when is vacation time in New Zealand  and Asia respectively). Food is diverse and not so expensive at all, but be aware that soft drinks and alcoholic beverages will fly the price of a dinner to the moon. Also be aware that the city don't sleep too late and by 10 pm most restaurants and eateries are already closed or closing down. In some good restaurants booking in advance before is a must. The photo above in this paragraph, illustrates the building at the city centre where Intercity buses departure and arrive. This place is also one of the main tourist information centres and tour booking offices in town.

The Art and Maori Culture are one of the highlights of Rotorua. A very good parcel of the Maori population of Rotorua are decedents of the tribe "Tuhourangi - Ngati Wahiaoe" that used to inhabit the Wairoa Village before the big eruption of the Tarawera Volcano.(read more about this eruption here). Whakarewarewa is the new place of residency of this tribe and it is located nearby the centre just before the road to Taupo starts. This is a very popular place to visit, due the marvellous Maori Culture and History displayed there.  The Thermal Village as it is called, offers a unique opportunity to see in "loco" the day-by-day of the Maori life. You probably will feel excited to try the famous Maori Hangi, a traditional food, cooked on the natural vapours that emanates from the soil. The famous Pohutu Geyser, is also located in the Whakarewarewa reserve, whose eruption throws boiling water to about 30 metres high. There are other Maori Villages around Rotorua such as Te Puia, where arts and crafts are displayed. Maori dance shows and dinner are other popular activity that worth to see. Once in Rotorua, do not miss the places that in a day tour you can visit such as the Waitomo Caves, The Waimangu Thermal Park, The Tarawera Volcano and many more. Rotorua is a great place to spend some days in a visit to New Zealand. Don't miss it.

Tourist Attractions in Rotorua

Distances by road from Rotorua to:

Auckland 235 km 3 hours
Hamilton 109 km 1 hour & 40 min
Tauranga 85 km  1 hour & 15min
Taupo 82 km 1 hour
Napier 225 km 3 hours & 30 min
Wellington 450 km 6 hours
Paihia 475 km 7 hours
Waitomo 166 km 2 hours & 30 min

The beautiful Rotorua lake and smelly vapours at sunrise.

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