Here is the next installment of my New Zealand trip, to read from the beginning, go here.
Greetings from Rotorua! (or Roto-Vegas as the locals call it)
The one tourist trap in New Zealand, this town is all hotels and resturants and gift shops. And it smells - like rotten eggs.
It's the country's thermal park and it's actually really cool to see the steam and rocks and all that. I was told it was a must see and I'm gald I came.
After a very rainy and dodgy bus trip up from Napier, I was feeling a little queasy (gotta love motion sickness) but as soon as I got some fresh air and food I was ok. I checked into my hostel and did laundry (woohoo!) so that I'd have something clean to wear. I went down to the information center and ran into two girls who had been on my wine tasting tour, so we went to have lunch. They are very nice (one's a Kiwi and one's an Aussie - they worked together in Europe for Contiki Tours) and invited me to travel on with them to Taraunga (which is actually my next stop) but I had already settled in at the hotel and made plans for last night so I'm catching up with them tomorrow for the beach part of my trip.
After walking about and checking out the lake, I went back and showered for the "dinner and show" that Kevin & Abbey had told me about. I was very wary of this DisneyWorld-esque set up but The Tamaki Tour "A Living Maori Village Experience" was actually very entertaining and the food wasn't half bad (Mom, you'd be proud of me: I ate the Kumara which is NZ's version of a sweet potato and it wasn't half bad). We had a very entertaining bus driver - he had the bus singing different songs from the different countries... I learned Chile's national athem - I'm sure that will come in handy sooner or later. The show was also fun and seemed to very authentic. They explained the different games and dances and songs of their culture which I found interesting. The "chief" was extremely well spoken and very elegant. Then at dinner I sat with a guy from Spain and an older lady from England (very grand dame type - when asked where she lived, she said "on the river" meaning the Thames as if there was no other river in the world - she was a hoot, especially after her third glass of wine). The guy from Spain was also funny b/c he's still working on his english (although he did really well) and would use funny words or tenses to describe things. We had a good time. One thing I've noticed is that no one introduces themselves by their name, unless you ask. Otherwise you're the "american" or the "spainard" - it kind of weird.
This morning I woke up to another foggy day and I went the Polynesian Spa which is where they have captured the hot springs in one area and turned into a bathing area and spa. I enjoyed a thermal mud treatment and some time in the pools. If they could do something about the smell it would be better but it was way better than any other hot springs I've been to! (Not to mention there's no hike before hand - Hot Springs at Edison anyone?)
So, this afternoon, I'm going to the local museums ( I know you all think I'm the biggest nerd but the museums are well done and they are generally free!)
And tonight there are concerts on the lake starting at around 4pm because tomorrow is New Zealand day... I've been told it's no big deal but they're doing things here so we'll see.
Anyways, tomorrow I'm off to the beaches (white sand ones this time) and I'll let you all know when I arrive.
Lots of Love! Kia Ora!