We stayed with my uncle for three nights, so two full days. You’ve already seen that we spent the first morning at Hobbiton, so I’m going to lump the remaining day and a half into a single post.
After our hobbit tour, we first went home for some lunch (left over curry from the night before), then it was off to Kairau Park to soak our feet in the (free!) thermal foot bath and have a look at the geothermal pools… or “bubbly pools” as my little cousin calls them. The sulphur smell certainly takes some getting used to, but watching the pools bubble away and then suddenly hiss and erupt a jet of steam is an experience that shouldn’t be missed!
It’s difficult to take photos of steam, but you hopefully get the idea. In some photos you might see white branches… they’re not naturally white plants, but have turned that way after being boiled in the pools (you really, really don’t want to fall in one of them!).
Once my cousin got tired of walking (as three year olds do!), we headed back to the car and drove down to the lake front where we all got something to drink any my cousin had a go on the (quite impressive!) playground. Jan and I had a wander down to the lake, where we saw the float planes and lots of ducks and swans.
It was evening by that time, so after popping home for a bit we headed out for dinner. We ate at a craft beer pub called “Brew”, which I thought was a clever name. I failed to take a photo of my Harissa Chicken Burger, but believe me it was delicious!
The next morning, we were up and breakfasted fairly early because we wanted to get to our first destination before the crowds… we were off to Kerosene Creek, a hot water stream south of Rotorua city. I can’t show you any photos because funnily enough I didn’t take my camera into the water 😉 (my uncle actually got out took a photo of the rest of us, but I can’t show you because – again – not putting photos of three years olds on the Internet!). You’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s beautiful! Hidden among the trees, with a cute little waterfall cascading into a natural pool of warm water! It’s just like being in a bath… except an outdoor bath that’s full of mud. If you go there, take care not to put your head under water (apparently you risk a form of meningitis if you do – caused by amoeba going up your nose. Ick!!). You definitely should go there though! And go early… by the time we left, it was starting to get pretty full.
Next it was off to Whakarewarewa Forest, aka “The Redwoods” for a tree walk. My cousin had great fun running along the bridges (kids can only go if they’re able to walk the entire route – no carrying allowed!), and the rest of us enjoyed the birds’ eye view of the forest.
As well as Redwoods, the forest has other trees and, of course, ferns. Many, many ferns. It’s quite a nice area to just go for a walk (on the ground) even if you don’t like heights or want to pay for the tree walk.
Once we were done with the trees, we stopped off at home for a sandwich then my uncle had to go to work. The rest of us drove to Blue Lake, or Lake Tikitapu. Apparently it wasn’t as blue as usual when we were there. Still beautiful though!
You can swim there, although we did not.
After all that activity, we were ready for a sit down and a drink, so we headed into town back to the area where we had eaten the night before…. Eat Streat. No, not a typo! Eat Streat is exactly what it sounds like… a street of eateries. There’s a retractable roof and geothermal underground heating, so it stays warm even in winter. We chose Ambrosia restaurant and decided to order some snacks to share. Here’s Eat Streat:
Sorry, awful photos! It’s difficult when it’s sunny but the restaurants/bars are all in shadow…
My cousin decided she needed to feed some leftover bread to the ducks, so once we’d eaten and drunk, we walked down to Lake Rotorua again in search of some hungry water birds…
On the way down the the waterfront, we saw this:
Yes, that’s a bike tree. No, I don’t know why!
We planned to feed ducks, but actually it was mostly swans that came. And the inevitable gulls….
After the bread was all gone, my cousin and her mum went shopping for that evening’s dinner. Meanwhile, Jan and I were dropped off at Sulphur Point where we went for a walk among more steam and bubbling pools. The landscape there isn’t the most attractive, but it’s utterly fascinating! I read somewhere that the whole walk would have taken two hours, but we eventually had to turn round and go back the way we had come so we could be picked up.
On the last photo above, you can see a hole where steam comes out… all the surrounding rock has been died yellow from the sulphur!
There wasn’t much geothermal activity going on while we were there, so I can only imagine what it must look like when the whole thing is covered in steam. Pretty amazing, I suspect.
Sadly, that was basically the end of our time in Rotorua. All that remained was an evening of drinking wine, exchanging photos, and repacking our suitcase then the next morning we were up nice and early for the long drive down the New Plymouth.
Rotorua is a fascinating place, totally different to anywhere I’ve been before! And it was great to spend some time with my uncle and meet my little cousin! Hopefully one day we’ll make it back over.
For now, though, it’s the end of this super-long blog post!