Exploring NZ’s Rotorua on the Cheap!

Wandering through sulphuric pools, feeling like I’m in Jurassic Park (minus the dinosaurs and Jeff Goldblum), seeing cool Maori stuff…

Rotten egg smelling Rotorua is all about the geothermal activity and there’s a lot of it in this city. You can literally see sulphuric gas rise out of cracks in the pavement as you’re walking around! And no one seems phased by this, apart from us tourists!

If you’re looking to get up close to some geysers and learn about the natural history and geology of the area then there’s the Te Puia geothermal park which you can pay to go to. However, being budget backpackers we were all about doing things on the cheap! Luckily you can still see plenty of geothermal activity and get up close to that eggy smell for free!

KUIRAU PARK, is just a few minutes walk from the Rotorua center and has plenty of sulphur to make you gag. The park has a number of different mud pools of all different sizes ranging from small puddles to a lake which you can cross via footbridge.

Free pools at Kuirau Park, Rotorua.
Free pools at Kuirau Park, Rotorua.

At some points a gust of wind would shove the eggy smell right in your face and you’d need a moment to get your breath back. (Yes, it really is THAT bad). However wandering through Kuirua Park was pretty cool and you got to see how the sulphur affected the vegetation surrounding it. [It dead]

Another cool thing about Rotorua is that it has a significant Maori population, so there’s a lot of traditional influence in its buildings. This is very prominent at the old Maori Village of OHINEMUTU which features a Tama-Te-Kapua marae (a Maori meeting house) opposite St Faith’s Anglican Church (which has an interesting European history). Our Kiwi Experience Bus driver told us that the Maoris used to cook in the sulphur pools!

Exploring Rotorua
Exploring Rotorua

Again this is just a short walk from the town center. This old village is also right next to the bluey/green tinged ‘Lake Rotorua,’ which is a nice place to sit down at and admire the view!

Admiring the view at Lake Rotorua
Admiring the view at Lake Rotorua

Despite being called a city, Rotorua is more town-like and easy to walk around and that’s what we spent most of our time doing. In the evening a whole lot of our K.E bus went to the Maori village cultural show http://www.tamakimaorivillage.co.nz/, which seems a top tourist attraction in Rotorua and does look intriguing. However being low on funds we made do with spending the evening soaking in the atmosphere (and sulphur) near the lake!

Highlights: Seeing lots of geothermic activity for free.
Lowlights: Gagging on sulphuric rotting egg smell.
Accommodation: Base Hostel – 3/5. Average. $30 for a dorm.

[Feature Image Courtesy of Gone Walkabout. https://gonewalkaboutdotnet.files.wordpress.com]

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