This place was awesome!  I could have spent a week here but unlike other areas in NZ, I wouldn’t want to live here…. It’s an active geothermal area and besides some worries about volcanoes and stuff, it stinks! Though nothing unusual happened while we were there, there was a small volcanic explosion/collapse just outside of Wellington.  That was probably the most exciting thing we saw on the news while there.  Instead of murders and child molesters like we hear about in the US, most NZ news was comprised of “tree fell, no one was hurt.”

We ended up in a hotel with very friendly owners on the main drag.  The room was twice the size of what we’d get for the price in the US and the shower was in the middle of the bathroom…no door, no curtain, no tub, just…hanging out there next to the toilet.

We went to Wai-o-Tapu but there are many geothermal areas to explore.  I was tempted by Hell’s Gate and had dreams of mud baths. Pictures really do not do it justice, especially the contrast of expanses of rock after miles and miles of verdant greenery.  There are also subtle mineral colors in the rocks that the camera just doesn’t pick up well.





Engulfed by clouds of steam, it felt prehistoric...

Walking in some areas was like walking on the moon–the craters, the greys and whites, the light-weight feeling of porous rocks



The famed champange pool



Of course, if you’re in Rotorua you must Zorb.  I’d love to do it again but it was kinda pricy, about the same as a parasail but a shorter less adrenaline-filled trip.  Still, it was worth it.  There are a variety of ways to do the zorb, we went with two people in it which is required to be partly filled with water!

We get in this hamster wheel of a bubble and they put the plastic cork in it to seal us in then say “Okay, now, RUN!”  Not the easiest thing to do inside a bubble but then we were off and tumbling!




We stopped off at Rainbow Springs Nature Park.  Again, compared to a zoo in the US it’s not impressive in size but it is impressive in beauty.  You can also go back at night for a lighted tour!

If we had camped, maybe we would have see wild kiwi but no such luck so this was our only sight of one.  No pictures, it’s noctural.  It waddles very hilariously and the entry fee was worth it just to see that!

Below is a Kea.  This bird is rather terrifying.  There are signs warning tourists that Kea’s have been known to dismantle cars.  But no advice on how to prevent that!  They’re like raptors, you look in their eyes and can tell they’re figuring things out… plus they’re pretty large, about macaw size.


A previous evolution of this lizard had three eyes!  Now it just has a spot on its head which is sensative to motion.


There was a fish pond with random albino fish too.  Below is a Moa, extint now but one of those links between birds and dinosaurs.  My hair is fading horribly ):  I love red but it just doesn’t last.


Now on to the Buried Village, the very reason why I wouldn’t want to live so close to geothermal activity 😉  When I was in history classes, the two things that stuck out to me were the Mayan ball game and the destruction of Pompeii.  So until I can get to Europe, this is my Pompeii.

There was a nice cafe where we had our lovely tea.  I had Wild Raspberry and was raving about how it was the greatest tea I’d ever tasted and I wanted to take New Zealandish tea home with me.  My friend says, ‘Um.  That’s Stash tea.  You can get it at the grocery store.’  Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find the Wild Raspberry kind ): ):


I love being able to take self-guided tours.  Everything had descriptions of the history and you can stop to examine what interests you and avoid what doesn’t.


There is something that utterly fascinates me about overgrowth, the act of nature reclaiming what man stole.  It’s humbling.  As much as I’m amazed that people can create things like the great pyramids and NYC, I’m more amazed at the erosion that follows and the damage that can be done by little green plants.


If you take the long way back around, you find a waterfall and get a spectacular (not pictured :/ ) view of the volcano that buried the city.




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