Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Roadie to Rotovegas!

Hello again!

So, as some readers may or may not know, I've been back in New Zealand since late August (more on why and so on in another post). To make the most of my time back home with my friends, we decided to go on a wee trip to the city of Rotorua last weekend!

A view of Mount Ruapehu on the drive up.
Rotorua is a popular tourist destination for international and domestic tourists in New Zealand. The city is famed for its' geothermal activity, including many active geysers, hot mud pools, and natural hot springs. That accounts for the distinctive rotten egg smell constantly permeating the air of Rotorua. Luckily the smell isn't very strong in most places, and actually you stop really noticing it after a while. As well as that, Rotorua is also home to many other popular tourist activities, especially when it comes to adventure tourism (bungee jumping, zorbing, mountain biking etc), exploring nature, and learning about Maori culture.

Rotorua Museum, built in 1908, was originally a bath house which attracted many tourists.
Rotorua is only about a 6 hour drive from Wellington city, and there are quite a few places worth stopping at along the way, so it makes for a good road trip. Our group made a mandatory stop at a honey shop for fresh honey ice cream. ^^

After arriving in the city and eating dinner in the city centres' "Eat Streat", we decided to visit Polynesian Spa for some hot spring action. It's fair to say I've become a big fan of relaxing in hot springs, so I was really looking forward to doing this in Rotorua. Polynesian Spa lies on the edge of Lake Rotorua, so you can look out over the beautiful lake whilst soaking in the wonderful natural minerals of the hot pools. Polynesian Spa has plenty of different types of bathing areas, including a family area, adult only area, and also private and luxury pools. My friends and I tried the adults only bathing. It was a very peaceful area and there were different pools to try, which was great. By the time we finished (well, actually, we only left because they were closing) I felt totally refreshed. It was a great first night on our trip!



Just one of the many lovely pools at Polynesian Spa.
The next day, we visited a farmer's market in the morning to get something for breakfast. We walked back through a park which had lots of bubbling mud pools and steaming mineral pools. Next, we dropped two of our friends off at the start of the Tarawera Trail, a tramp near Lake Tarawera, ending at a part of the lake with naturally hot water. It sounded like a great tramp! I hope I can go on it someday when I'm more fit ^^; The rest of us decided to hang out around the city. We visited the Government Gardens, which were really beautiful with loads of blooming tulips, and got lunch and played some minigolf. After picking up our friends, we went back to the motel we were staying at to check out the natural mineral bath they had. We relaxed in there, then swam in the pool when we got too hot. That night we had another delicious dinner on Eat Streat, and chilled back at the motel with a wine.

There were a lot of these signs in the park! Thermal areas are all fenced off for safety.
Steam is constantly rising from different parts of the park.

At the beginning of the hike my friends went on.
Flowers at the government gardens.
Dinner with the girls <3
The next morning was sadly the day we had to leave. Before check out, we made time to do mud masks together. Rotorua's geothermal mud is meant to be very good for your skin, and I had actually tried a mud mask from Rotorua that someone gave to me a few years ago. I remembered that it felt really good, so I wanted to do it again. We bought some mud from the Polynesian Spa gift shop, and all tried it. The mud dries on your face so that it becomes really hard to smile or make any expression, haha. It feels good, you just need to make sure you have some moisturiser on hand after you take it off, or your skin will feel very dry! My skin is in really bad condition at the moment but I think this helped, it felt nice afterwards.

#mudmask #nomakeupselfie #cantmovemyface #hashtag
Finally, that morning we went to one of the best places on our trip: Kerosene Creek. I'd visited it before, but that was about seven years ago now, so I didn't remember how wonderful it is. Kerosene Creek is about half an hour away from central Rotorua. It is a naturally warm creek, featuring a small waterfall, that runs through some beautiful bush. The water is a perfect temperature for bathing, not too hot so that you feel overheated or exhausted, and not too cool that you want to get out...ever. The surroundings are so lovely, with sunlight pouring through the green leaves, and the gentle sound of the waterfall and running water. I can't really do it justice through words, so luckily we took some photos.



Kerosene Creek is a public place, so anyone can visit any time. There were only two other people when we arrived in the morning, but by the time we left (after midday), it was getting busier. I'd recommend visiting in the morning if you want some time to yourself.

Well, with that, it was time to start seriously heading home. We stopped in Taupo for lunch, but apart from that it was a straight trip back with some good tunes and banter. I had a great time away, and I'm so happy I got to spend a lot of time and have a lot of laughs with my friends. Thanks everyone!

- Annabelle

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I've been a high school English language teacher on the JET Programme since August 2013. Read about my experiences, advice on being accepted into the JET Programme, and travel tips around Japan on my blog:
 
 
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