Written on December 16, 2008
Rotorua is an interesting place in many respects. All the travel brochures say, you will smell Rotorua before you will ever see it. Rotorua is one of the largest active geothermal sites on the planet. As such, there is a very strong smell of sulfur in the air. In fact, when we checked into our hotel room, the room smelled musty and somewhat moldy. I was told that it comes from the sulfur, over time. The room looked to be spotless. So if Rotorua stinks so much, why is it a big place to visit for not only tourists, but New Zealanders as well? In a word, spas. They have some of the best spas in the world. This little smelly town has taken a negative and turned it into a big positive by boasting the spas and really taking advantage of the one thing that they have, all that heat that comes from being on an active geothermal area. In fact, there is a place that people go where they can dig down a few inches into the sand, and lay in the sand. The heat from the earth will basically give you a heated spa treatment right there. You have to be a bit careful where you dig and lay. If you pick the wrong spot you could end up with burns. The earth, after all, doesn't really have a thermostat to our liking.
We opted not to take a spa treatment, but rather spend our time taking the three mile hike around the most active thermal area, called Wai-O-Tapo, Thermal Wonderland. This was a land of sink holes, boiling mud, steaming pools of water emitting strong sulfur fumes, geysers, and pools of boiling crude oil with mud. Still, fascinating to see.
Here are are few of the photos from that area. The water really is the color presented. It comes from a variety of minerals from the earth. Just remember as you look at these photos, there were times where I could hardly breath due to the intense smell of sulfur in the air. It would really take your breath away. But as you can see, it had it's own kind of beauty about it. Everything has something to offer.
And finally, the track of the three mile walk around the preserve. Not that if you are receiving this via email, the track will not work. You will have to view the entry on the website to see this work.