Kaituna 7m Waterfall drop - Hazel and I are in the front two "death seats"
On Saturday, we got up early and got the bus from Whitianga to Rotorua, via Thames, with a cheeky stop by a giant L&P Bottle - L&P is a NZ drink that tastes a lot like lemonade, but seems to be pretty dear to Kiwi hearts...so we tried a small one to be polite!
As warned by the guide book (and by Christine), Rotorua itself smells of eggs due to all the sulphur coming from the many bubbling pools of water and mud, and strange coloured lakes giving off steam. It felt a little like being on a pre-hisoric movie set, as it was all so unusual...and the smell takes a bit of getting used to!
For our first night we signed up to a Mauri evening where we learned a little about their culture and watched some traditional dances and entertainment. Since the evening was interactive, audience paritipation was expected, and when the scary Mauri warrior asks you to dance, I can tell you now, you dance. I (Mark) was picked out of the group twice to take part in a Mauri game and to perform the Haka - Embarrassing. Everytime they wanted female participation, Hazel was no
Volcanic lakes in Rotorua
where to be found, right at the back of the crowd. (I obviously have my mum's luck in being picked to take part in these things!). The evening ended with a "Hangi", which is a feast where all the food had been cooked in the ground. This was the best fill of protein I have had for a while and there was literally endless food. There was everything from mussels to chicken and from NZ Sweet potato to stuffing. We both rolled home afterwards. Very good evening!
The next day was an early start for some rafting down the Kaituna river. The course was a grade 5 (for all my friends who are very familiar with canoeing and the like, you will know that this means "bricking it" most of the way down the course). There was a 7 metre waterfall on the river, which was yet again wobbling on the excited to scary boundary. Seriously though, we had a great time and were allowed to do one of the falls without the raft (so just bobbing along with a life jacket on), which was pretty cool. This morning we visited the Polynesian Spa for some natural hot mineral
Tough monday mornings backpacking
baths to calm our nerves before heading onwards to Taupo....and sky diving (woohoo!!).
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