The shuttle bus from Waitomo caves got into Rotorua around 6 ish. It was a lot bigger town than I thought it would be. Rotorua is a top tourist spot in the north island because of its mud baths, steaming hot springs, explosive geysers, and the clouds of sulfurous gas that gives the entire town that bad egg smell.
There are heaps of thermal parks around Rotorua, many pretty pricey. I took advantage of the free geothermal area, Kuirau Park, near my great YHA Treks Hostel. It offered everything, from bubbling mud pools, hot springs, and a crater lake, not to mention that terrible sulfurous odor.
Anyway had a pretty good gander around the park.
I then took a pretty lengthy walk thru the city center out to the supermarket, where I stocked up on food maybe for the last time here. I went to Countdown supermarket, a Woolworths brand chain so one of my favorites. Other big grocery stores in New Zealand are Pak N Save and New World, New World may be my favorite, kinda reminds me a bit of Andronico's, its got some great class to it.
Made myself a solid dinner and called it a night.
Day 2: Wednesday March 3, 2010
Today I had only a few hours to play around with until the Magic bus came to pick me up at 130pm. I had originally planned to head to a thermal village, where I would have witnesses some thermal activities as well as Maori culture (Rotorua is also known for its big Maori population and culture shows), but the truth is I didnt have enough time. Basically had to change around some travel dates since the Magic bus doesn't run everyday, obviously a bit annoying but part of traveling. Next time I come to this great country and Im with a mate, I will explore by car, guaranteed.
I used the morning to catch up on some sleep, eat a hardy breakfast and walk around downtown. I figured I already had seen a good amount of geothermal, volcanic activity in the past couple of days anyhow (thermal park the night before, and Tongariro crossing). It was a relaxing early day before the bus came.
The bus today was headed towards our next destination, Mount Maunganui. On the way out of Rotorua we stopped by the made-by-a-kiwi famous sport, ZORBING.
Everyone had the opportunity to do it, for a small convenient price of 50 dollars, but I held back, not due to money but fear of maybe getting skydive sick again. It did look like good fun though rolling down the hills. You had the option of a wet or dry zorb. Wet you kinda just slosh around in the ball as you roll down, the dry zorb you are actually strapped in and are in a full roll, just like the ball. For me, it looked far worse, motion sickness-wise than the wet zorb. A great Kiwi invention though, I enjoyed watching people do it.