Rotorua is New Zealand's center for active volcanic activity. The lake has areas of steam coming out of it and places like "Sulfur Bay" are appropriately named for their geological properties! The area was originally settled by the Maori people and the name Rotorua means "two lakes." The white man intervened in the wars between different Maori tribes and it was through this intervention that the hot springs and sulfur pools were discovered. Soon, the area became known for hot water pools and the theorized healing abilities of naturally hot water and mud. Today, tourism is the main attraction. Experiencing nature's remodeling of the earth through volcanic activity and Maori culture are the primary attractions.
During the drive to Rotorua, about 60 km from the town, we began to see these interesting outcrops of rocks in the fields. They looked like someone had thrown giant rods of rock at the earth from outer space. Turns out, these are fall out from a massive eruption of a volcano 180 km away that occurred at the time of Christ!
We found our hotel and planned on checking in and enjoying the hot tub and on-site mini-golf! Turns out, they've lost our reservation. But, "No worries mate!" They put us up in another hotel, one of the more grand and historic hotels right next to the hot springs park! After we got settled there, we then undertook the task of finding food! The usual discussions ensued. We decided to drive the drag and see if anything caught our eye. While walking down the street, we went by this Turkish restaurant that had an open oven in it. Although not much to look at, the food smelled good and we hoped this would be one of those "holes in the wall" that had great authentic food. So, in we go. Turns out, the kids order Pizza and that ends up being the best tasting pizza I've had in New Zealand. Took me back to New York style pizza, thin crust with an excellent sauce! I ordered a plate of something Turkish and that was excellent also!
The next day, we took in some of the sights of the local volcanic formations:
The area has many natural pools of boiling crystal clear water percolating up from the depths of the center of the earth!
Steam shoots up from vents scattered throughout the landscape.
Appropriately named "Sulfur Bay" of Lake Rotorua. The smell in the whole town is one of the suggestion of rotten eggs! Here, it seems we're closer to the source! At this particular spot, one's head begins to ache after an hour or so!
Most men have to take their wives to a fancy resort with shops and perfectly manicured beaches or golf courses for a vacation. Not Heather, just throw her off a bridge, stick her on a glacier, bunk her down on a tight little boat in a fiord or take her for a walk across some stinky cooled lava with steam and hot water shooting up through the ground and she's happy. Oh yeh, she just loved breathing in the "fresh volcanic air!"
On to a Maori dinner . . .