The sulphur smell of Rotorua is unavoidable. It’s so strange to be in a small city intertwined in an active geothermal environment. Steam escapes everywhere. We arrived at the Black Swan Lakeside Inn and were instantly enchanted by our host Gretchen and the lovely facility. Once again Trevor from Southern Crossings hit it out of the park!
We had been eating fish in Bora Bora and s we drove to Rotorua we passed a lot of sheep and cattle which definitely made us crave steak. Is that wrong?
Anyway after we dropped off our bags and washed up we were ready to head out to eat and Gretchen directed us to “1842” a sweet little restaurant with yummy steak!
We slept very well listening to the sounds of the lake. I have had some trouble sleeping more than 5 hours. My body clock was waking up at my normal time in Seattle so it was a relief to get some extra sleep.
Rotorua has been experiencing a drought but luckily for them we brought along our Seattle Rain Fairies. It wasn’t cold, just misty. The heavy rains and thunder storms held off until last night and today (our travel day to Nelson).
Fortified with a scrumptious full breakfast, including really good croissant, we headed out to a day focused on local history.
As we drove to the Maori church by the lake (chanting “stay left” and “turn left to left” or “turn right to left”, not to mention “oh god another traffic circle – which way are those cars merging?”) you could see the thermal steam escaping everywhere. Yellowstone National Park mixed with a small city of about 60,000 people.
The Church had beautiful carvings and another Maori war memorial and cemetery.
From there we headed to the Rotorua Museum a small collection where you learn about the healing thermal waters that drew people from all over the world both before and after a major volcano eruption in the 1880’s. They have a great little movie complete with moving seats to enhance the feeling of being in the earthquake. And the basement exhibit of the early piping systems for the mud and steam baths were really quite well done.
There is also a great Maori exhibit with both historic and modern features. The picture below of the glass sail boat is from a modern version of the Maori stories.
The museum features an exhibit of the 28th Maori Brigade that was mobilized to fight in WWII in 1939. They were sent into very difficult situations in Italy and took very heavy casualties.
After the museum we drove on to see the tallest geyser I the area at Te Puia Our guide Carla was an excellent teacher and guide. We even got to see a live Kiwi on the move which is very rare because they sleep 20 hours a day. They are nocturnal, but they shift day and night in the exhibit for our human pleasure. He geyser here goes of every hour but not at set times. But thanks to Carla’s expert timing we arrived just in time for the show. We ended with a tour of the Maori art school and watched them carve there beautiful wood sculpture.
It was about 5 when we left Te Pao for the highly recommended Polynisian spa and the healing waters. We were pretty tired and Jim who had never tried the natural spa experience was a bit unsure. But he was game for trying it. There were many pool choices, but we choose the Lakeside pools. It was fabulous, peaceful and instantly soothing. We soaked in the pools with views of the lake, flocks of birds and geysers in the distance while we watched the sunset. There were also these magical heated reclining chairs which Jim found perfect for a quick nap. Completely relaxed and healed by the soothing waters e ventured back to the Black Swan. On the way back to the stopped for some yummy Indian food that we took back to our room.
This morning we rose to another yummy breakfast before heading off by small plane to Nelson via Wellington. When I was younger I was afraid of going on small planes. I had always experienced motion sickness and between nausea and feeling awful from the Dramamine it petrified me. But that’s all gone now and quite honestly we could not do this trip if we couldn’t take small planes. It wasn’t until Scott and Jaycee Crowell shared the Grand Canyon trip by small plane and helicopter that I learned Imcould travel,like this. thank you Scott and Jaycee.
Our flight was delayed by weather but they held the connection.
Again, Trevor has found us the most charming place nestled I the vineyards of Upper Moultere by the sound. The tide is way out and will come in about 5 feet tonight. We dropped off our bags and are off to some wine tasting and art galleries with a bit of lunch.
Tomorrow we have a full day of kayaking and boating in Abel Tasman Park. the adventure continues.