New Zealand Travel Guide: Rotorua to TaupoMarch 2, 2009
Rotorua stinks. I mean literally, the whole place just reeks of sulpher. It comes from all the geothermal stuff going on underground, close to the surface. It’s the reason there are so many nifty mud pools and hot springs in town, but damn, the smell is overpowering.
That was one of the main reasons that I chose not to stay an extra day in Rotorua, although many people stay there for several days. It’s a hub of adventure and activity, from sky diving to 4-wheel driving to rafting, Hobbit tours and more.
Now that I’ve left Rotorua I do wish I’d had more time there so I could have Zorbed – I really wanted to Zorb – and maybe done a spa day with a mud bath and facial, and gone rafting, or maybe absailing back in the Waitomo caves. Of course, it’s easy to wish that now that I’ve gotten the smell out of my hair.
But, Taupo was my next stop and there were things to do there as well. Things that smelled a lot better. It was also very rainy, so some of the activities in Rotorua could have been canceled nor delayed.
It also meant one more day on the bus with Driver Greg. I loved listening to him talk. I wish he would have just chatted and told stories for the entire drive, just so I could listen to his accent.
After a quick tour around Rotorua to show us some of the things we might have missed, Greg got us out of town and to our first stop, the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area, where we had a closer look at some mud pools.
Although there are a lot of places around here were you can stop by the side of the road and jump into some mud or hot pools, Greg did say that most of these carry bacteria. The places you pay to go into do something to get rid of the bacteria, but in the wild you run the risk of getting more than just a soothing bath.
We stopped long enough to watch the mud plop and bubble for a while, then went just down the road to the Lady Knox geyser. You can see how this one went for yourself:
After the geyser went off we rode on to a place where you could do an optional walk out to the Champagne Pool. It was $24 for a ticket to this area, but if you’ve never seen anything like these formations before, it’s worth doing.
Because the rain was getting worse, many afternoon activities in Taupo were canceled so we went straight to our hostels. The Taupo YHA isn’t the best I’ve ever stayed at, but it wasn’t bad, and the showers were nice and hot.
After a fun trip to the grocery store (more on grocery shopping later) I stayed in out of the rain for the rest of the evening, doing laundry, checking email, and hanging out in the common ares, chatting with people from all over.
There were two students from Oregon studying wildlife and forestry who were in New Zealand for four months doing volunteer conservation work as part of a college internship. I also met people from Switzerland and Japan who had been studying English in Australia before traveling around, and a family with two young kids who were spending a month going all over New Zealand.
In fact, most of the people I talked to were traveling for a minimum of a month, and up to six months or a year. They couldn’t believe that Americans only get 2-3 weeks of vacation a year, and after a while I couldn’t believe it either. I think it’s time for me to go back to school and take a few months off in between.
Next: Jet boating in Taupo.