All we knew about Rotorua was the persistent ‘rotten egg’ smell that lingered all day and that it was the cultural capital of the country. So we decided to get a taste of all and signed up for the Maori Tamaki Village Tour and Hangi (traditional meal cooked underground), received a free pass to Hells Gate Thermal Park during a promo at the visitor’s center and headed to the Agrodome to watch the world’s fastest sheep shearers.
Who knew there were SO many different types of sheep?
We were up close and personal with mother nature at Hell’s Gate Thermal Reserve. The smell really wasn’t too bad and you got used to it very quickly! The tour guide was really informative and cool, answered all our questions while we stopped in for a quick free mud facial in the mud lake. She also showed us this ‘special dirt’ that turns to liquid just by rubbing it together!
We fasted all day just so we could eat our weight’s worth at the Maori Hangi that night. But before we were even allowed to enter the village, our chosen chief from our bus – our very own,Terry – had to pass the warrior confrontation and provide an offering to the scary Maori chief. Pretty scary! Needless to say, Terry passed with flying colors and we were allowed to join in, tour the village, enjoy the ‘haka’ and feast on local delicacies.
On our way out of Rotorua, we had heard from fellow travelers from the cottages South Wales about a ‘secret gem’ of a natural hot waterfall and springs. Most of the thermal parks offer hot springs soaks, but they are usually housed in concrete pools, rather than in a natural setting. Although hard to find and off the main trail, we discovered and thoroughly enjoyed this natural spa; rested our weary traveler bodies and best of all, it was completely isolated and free!