Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rotorua

On Saturday, February 2 we visited Whakarewarewa, a living thermal village (the "wh" is pronounced with a "ph" sound like phone) and Te Wairoa, the buried village. Along the way, we also got to see the blue and green lakes. We caught the lakes on a clear day so you can really see the color difference.

Whakarewarewa Village (or Whaka for short) is home to the people of Tuhourangi Ngati Wahio (descendants of those who escaped and lived through the Tarawera eruption). Roughly 25 families still live in this village; they use the heat from the ground and one of the pools to cook their meals. Some of the water as deep as 17 meters can get as hot as 290 degrees celsius. At the surface it is still a piping 90 degrees celsius. Being a thermal village, it smelled of sulfur - I don't know if one can every really get used to the smell as a visitor but we managed. 

Entering the village
A view of all the steam
More steam!
What a typical house (whare) would look like back int the day

Two geysers are also visible from this village.

Pohutu (left) is the largest of all New Zealand geysers; Prince of Wales "Feathers" (right) is the most active geyser
Korotiotio means grumpy man; it's the most volatile spring gushing super-heated water that explodes from the ground
Check out the video of bubbling Korotiotio:


There were plenty of mud pools as well - Paul always offers great commentary - check out the video here where mud is spewing out:


We also caught the daily cultural performance where the local performing group showed us the ferocious Haka (war dance where they stick their tongues out to scare their enemies).

My nephew Branden does this a lot too
Posing for the cameras
From Whaka village, we went to the buried village, Te Wairoa (at least this place didn't smell). This village was the gateway to the pink and white terraces (New Zealand's self proclaimed eighth wonder of the world) before Tarawera erupted. Lots of artifacts that were excavated were on display. We felt a little ripped off paying $32 each but luckily there was a waterfall that made it kind of worth it - especially the warning sign before going down the trail about having a reasonable level of fitness and confidence!

We felt fit and confident enough
Waiwere Falls
I made the nice person who took this picture retake the first shot
Paul got a shot of it swirling down - like a toilet flushing

The Blue (Tikitapu) Lake and Green (Kakahi) Lake were clearly those colors on this beautiful day!

Green Lake 
Blue Lake
Can you see the color difference?

We ended the day with a nice dinner, a walk around Lake Rotorua and a dip in the hot pools at the Polynesian Spa. I was only able to last about 10 minutes in each hot pool - first, they were super hot (hottest was 42 degrees celsius) and second, they smelled like rotten eggs.

Deee plane, deee plane on Lake Rotorua

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