10/1/16. We liked Rotorua. It was the biggest place we have been to in NZ apart from Auckland and it is clearly geared up for tourism but that doesn’t detract from its appeal. Everything is low rise – there are hardly any buildings above two stories – and while the many cafes, restaurants, motels and attractions are obviously commercial enterprises it isn’t rampant, “in your face” capitalism.
On Sunday morning, just before we left, we found our favourite part of the city. Christine had seen that there was a bilingual (Maori and English – only Christine would be attracted to this!) service at a church in a Maori village on the lakefront so we rose early and decamped as quickly as we could to get her there for 9 o’clock. (We just made it.) As we approached the church we saw steam rising from many places around the houses we passed and kept on getting a whiff of sulphur. It was clearly a very active place, geothermally speaking.
The church service was notable for all the hymns being sung in Maori and being accompanied by a guitar which combined to give a very Hawaiian feel. When we met outside afterwards we saw two cyclists coming towards us. After the usual friendly greeting we found out that they were a guide and a tour party of one. Roger, the guide, said that we could join them for a while if we had 20 minutes to spare so we tagged along.
He showed us where steam was escaping from a hole in the road that had opened up the previous day after another hole 10 metres or so away had been blocked a few weeks before. It makes you wonder why they bother! Close by there was the village meeting house which was the third one to be built on almost the same site, the two previous ones having to be torn down because the heat and steam and gas started to come up through the floor. There were pipes come from under the existing one suggesting that another move was imminent! Roger also showed us a pool of water that his thermometer “gun” said was 66°C.
All in all, it was a fascinating area and we were very lucky to get a free guide.