Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rotorua Thermal Springs

My alarm went off at 0900 again and Kacey went into the shower first. Right after she got out of it, the fire alarm went off. I threw on some more clothes and was about to grab my stuff when it shut off. I looked out the window and there was a staff member out there surveying the rooms. She returned my thumbs up/all-clear and we proceeded on our day without worry of dying in a flaming deathtrap.

A peanut butter & jelly breakfast held us through a tour of Te Puia and the geysers, boiling mud pits, and thermal springs. We saw a performance of the local dance and song before eating a late lunch of hangi meal, which turned out to be chicken, potatoes, and a few other stuffings and veggies that tasted really good. We walked around the park after lunch, it's really a totally foreign land...from the earth to the plants and skies. Also smells like sulphur.

From there we took a series of right-hand turns to a place called the buried village. In the mid-1800's, a volcano erupted, burying a number of villages in mud, not lava. The lava destroyed much of why the villages were there, silica deposits that formed thermal pools in many different terraces. Two sections, pink & white, had a gradient from cool to boiling the higher up you went. Locals cooked food in them. Our guide was the great grandson of the village chief and told us a story not kept on the walls of the museum. His story had the feel of one that had been passed down from generation to generation in the Maori tradition of oral history. Much different than how I'd relate the story and what happened. Still pondering the differences.

We stopped for gas on the way back and saw the stupidest driving I've seen in person. A car came around the turn too fast and fish-tailed for half a block before coming to rest perpendicular to traffic and very close to a semi-trailer. Anyways, the gas cost roughly $35 NZD for 25 liters/half tank. Parked at the hostel and walked to dinner at the stonegrill place. I had venison and had to cook my own meal on a 400 C plate that had been heated for 12 hours and would stay hot for 2-3 more. Slicing up bite-sized bits of meat required only 10-15 seconds on the plate to cook them. It was a delicious meal and I'd eat there more often if I lived here.

After dinner, we walked across town to the Polynesian spa, where we were able to soak in hot spring water. The pools were kept at certain temperatures: 38, 40, 42 C. Spent most of the time in 38, with only a brief dip into 42 to see what it was like. It was like "too hot" bathwater. Kacey and I relaxed at the spa for nearly an hour before a tour bus of Koreans came in and started getting ready to fill up the pools. We decided to get out right as they began filtering in so the locker rooms would be less crowded. It kind of worked, but it was still crowded in there. We changed, rehydrated, and set off to the museum nearby because the exterior was interesting. It was still raining and nearly 2200, so we walked back to the hostel in the drizzle to get some sleep for tomorrow.

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