June 2024

Rainy Days in Rotorua


Well here we are, huddled in Happy Diwali hiding from the cold, rainy mess that has been our life for the last three days in Rotorua. New Zealand was not supposed to be this cold! At least not until we headed further south! Furthermore, we’re being cheap and staying in a Department of Conservation campground, which is only $6/night, but unfortunately, unlike the expensive campgrounds we’ve stayed in thus far, there is no place to find refuge. Usually, there were big kitchens and rooms with TV’s and internet (which we never used, of course), but now, all we have is a lake and a small (like, really small, maybe 10 sq. ft.) covered cook station.


One of the mud pools at Rotorua

So… let’s recap the last few days. Two days ago, we left Hot Water Beach and drove to Rotorua. We stayed in a Holiday Park (i.e. expensive campground). The next morning, since it was raining, we decided to make use of the campground’s relatively cheap wifi to upload blogs and pictures, but it lasted just long enough to take my credit card info, and not much else. So, we decided to go be adventurous in the rain and walk through the central park in Rotorua, which is covered in mud baths and places where boiling water seeps through the ground. New Zealand is on the cusp of the Austral-Indian and Pacific tectonic plates, and Rotorua is right at the intersection of the two plates. When the plates move, they cause friction, which melts the rock and creates lava flows, which in turn boils underground waterways, which in turn bubble up in various places all over Rotorua. Apparently Rotorua is in the middle of one of the most highly volcanic areas in the world. And it constantly smells like sulfur, which isn’t much of a departure from the norm on this trip, thank you Kenna. (actually its not true, it was just far too convenient to leave that fart joke out).

The Rotorua museum

The Rotorua museum

Next, on to the Rotorua museum, which detailed Rotorua’s history as a tourist destination to see its thermal properties, and the site of a major volcanic eruption in 1886, which wiped out a few villages. Back in 1886, the Mauri and whites teamed up to bring people in to see some geological phenomenons called the pink and white terraces, where the suphur water had made some pretty cool looking areas (they have these in Turkey too, totally need to go see them). We kept asking “where are these terraces?”, but later we figured out that the eruption had taken out these terraces. Cool hey? The museum was also inside the building of an old bath house, where they used to plumb in mud and hot water from the volcanic activity to treat patients for various things in mud baths, kind of an old spa. Now, the high flyers in the crowd can go next door to the Polynesian spa where they use the same mud and suphuric water to pamper you.

Then, being that it was cold and rainy out, and it was our 4.5 yr anniversary, we went out for dinner for the first time since we left. Kenna got this ridiculously huge and artisitic veggie burger. Kenna wanted something plain to sooth her still-not-too-well stomach, but instead ended up with this mound of half-fried vegetables on a bun, not too appetizing.

The Lady Knox Geyser about to explode.

The Lady Knox Geyser about to explode.

Today was a much better day. We went to bed really early last night, cuz it was raining, and slept late, cuz it was still raining, and then headed off to the Lady Knox Geyser in Waitapu. If we get some decent wifi, I’ll upload a video of this thing, it was pretty cool. Basically, there’s a layer of water underground sitting at 130°C, and another layer sitting at 90°C. Every 24-72 hours, the surface tension between the two will change and the water will mix, resulting in boiling steam, which bursts up through the Geyser. At 10:15 every morning, they artificially create an eruption by putting in a squirt of dish soap, and it goes off predictably. Then, we toured the grounds around Waitapu, where we could see dozens of thermally active pools, and craters where the acidic underground water had caused the ground to cave in.

Our next stop was Kerosene creek, which is a normal creek that smells like rotting plants, but that is heated by all the geothermal activity around here. So, naturally, yahoos like us jump in and play in the hot water. Unfortunately, since we’re being cheap, we don’t have a shower, so now we smell like rotting cabbage. Actually, Kenna is so cold she can’t even smell that she smells like rotting cabbage.

Us sitting in Kerosene creek

Us sitting in Kerosene creek

Anyways, I digress into talk about being cold. I convinced Kenna that we needed to go luging, which was totally awesome. We had to drive all the way back to Rotorua (the cheap campground is 35 km out), and get on a gondola to get to the top of a mountain to slide down on our ass, but man is it fun! $30 for 3 rides is pretty steep though… if they charged that for Marmot or Sunshine, it’d be like $200 for a day pass.

Tomorrow, on to Waitomo to see glowing worms in a cave!

2 comments to Rainy Days in Rotorua

  • David

    Hey guys, Too bad the weather is so rainy. I am sure it will get better. Sounds like New Zealand is alot of fun, but apparently really smells bad everywhere. Luging would totally be worth it, They did it on the amazing race last year and it looked like so much fun. Kenna must be feeling better if she chowed down on that burger (crazy huge) but that may be causing some other problems (insert sulfur related joke here). Drive safe and we love reading the posts every couple of days

  • Dad

    I am surprised it took you this long to get enough bad weather to realize that New Zealand is definately not a tropical desrination, AND it will get colder as you head towards the South Island. Try and stay waem Kenna

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