2/18/10: Rotorua, New Zealand
New Zealand is beautiful. I can say this now with confidence because yesterday we drove all the way – three whole hours! – from Auckland to Rotorua. We passed pine tree (I think) forests, towns with cute smoking chimneys, cows lying peacefully in the grass (but oddly enough, no sheep), small ponds with clear water – all of this on and in between beautiful, endless rolling hills. It is by far one of the most beautiful countries we’ve visited since leaving home last September.
But, and there’s always a but(t), there’s Rotorua. We (i.e. Kevin the planner) decided that we should spend the day in Rotorua exploring some of the “thermal activity.” We (i.e. Kevin) also decided to stop here because it is a good point to break up the drive to Taupo, where Kevin booked his skydive. Rotorua itself is a lovely place, much like any other town in New Zealand (at least that’s how I like to think of it with my vast knowledge of exactly zero towns in New Zealand), but – oh boy – does it stink.
It was subtle at first. A kind of funny smell in our room, a bit like what your friend might smell like after spending too many hours in biology lab dissecting her fetal pig. (Too much imagery? Er, smellery?) We just assumed it had something to do with the air circulation or maybe the dirty clothes we’d been carrying around for the last two weeks. Alas, though we do need to do some laundry, in this case it turned out not to be the culprit.
We ventured out to the nearby Kuirau Park to check out Rotorua’s famous thermal activity. Apparently the heat is caused by sulfur, and apparently sulfur smells really really bad. I don’t know how this whole heat/sulfur/boiling mud/smelliness thing works, so if anybody does, please feel free to enlighten us.
The trickiest part about checking out the thermal vents was that they were often surrounded by trees and bushes so that you couldn’t really see into them unless you were actually peering over the edge of the railing that guarded it. Which meant that you were RIGHT BY IT. Which meant that it STUNK. Which meant that you had to hold your breath for dear life. Kevin and I didn’t want to miss out on seeing anything, but neither did we want to stand near the vents. So we eventually came to an agreement that one of us would scout out each pool and then call the other person over if it deserved a look. This system would have worked perfectly, except for the fact that I never wanted to be the scout. I have a very sensitive nose.
I think in the end we did manage to see much of the park. And besides enjoying the novelty of seeing boiling water and boiling mud come out of the ground, we also enjoyed another, more classic, pastime – fart jokes. “Ew! Wait until you’re in the bathroom before you let another one of those out!” Or one of us would ask “Ugh – was that you?” after a particularly strong whiff, and the other person would nod shamefacedly (or in Kevin’s case, proudly). It was fun.
The park also had a little pool that you could stick your feet in. I don’t know how it worked, other than that water flowed in one end and out the other, and somehow the water was just the right temperature for a soak.
After this malodorous (I admit to thesaurus usage here) expedition, we decided to cancel our plans to visit the other, larger, and therefore MORE MALODOROUS thermal park and headed back to the relative safety of our room for the rest of the night. Because even though it sometimes smelled faintly sulfur-ous in there, at least we could make our fart jokes in peace without wanting to gag.
Picture of the Day: Me and my new snail friend.