Written by baroudeur2004 on 30 Sep, 2007
During my three-week tour of New Zealand, I decided to be crazy like a Kiwi and experience as many adrenaline rushes as I could in a short while. Rotorua was my first stop after Auckland and I was not disappointed with the many activities it…Read More
During my three-week tour of New Zealand, I decided to be crazy like a Kiwi and experience as many adrenaline rushes as I could in a short while. Rotorua was my first stop after Auckland and I was not disappointed with the many activities it had to offer. Bungee-jumping was one of these options. Not the most picturesque bungy in New-Zealand (Queenstown, in the Southern Island has three more bungys to offer in stunning surroundings), the 43m (142 feet) Rotorua Bungy in the Agrodome Theme Park was nonetheless a good introduction to an adrenaline-packed experience. Not especially cheap (120 NZD for the jump including photos of you jumping), but definitely worth every cent if you are an adventurous spirit looking for extreme sensations. If you want to try only one jump, it is best to go to Queenstown if you have the opportunity to go there.First of all, I had to sign a release form (in case I had an accident during the jump, the staff would not be held responsible), then I was explained how it would work for me. No doubt was I feeling extremely nervous as it was my first jump. Since I was trying to cure my fear of heights, I tried to overcome this fear by jumping (it worked for a short while, then my fear of heights came back as strong as ever). The staff were extremely friendly and reassured me; they have a real gift about reassuring the most nervous people and they would be good counsellors if ever they decided to change jobs!I was strapped on the legs and harnessed on the chest (in case the strap on the legs broke during the jump) and told that at five, I would have to jump. 43 metres do not seem high, but knowing that I was about to jump, it seemed like hundreds of metres to me. I approached the platform and stood still while the staff were counting… One, two, three, four, five… I never knew how it happened, but I jumped in despite of all the warnings my brain was giving me… The adrenaline rush was awesome. A real boost of joy into my brain, as if I was given a happy pill. I could not help but laugh. I kept my eyes open during the whole duration of the jump which did not last more than five seconds (but for me it seemed much longer than that). Then, I felt the elastic rope. In a matter of seconds, I was not going down anymore but up, bouncing up and down until it stopped. It was over… I was still alive; I had not had a heart attack nor had crashed in the small pond below me. I knew I wanted to do it again and again…The adrenaline rush had been so powerful I remained high for 24 hours, smiling non-stop. Some people burst into tears and keep crying for hours. As for me, I kept laughing for no reason for several hours afterwards. This was the first of my four jumps in New Zealand (I did the three other jumps in Queenstown, each in a different place). I would do it again anytime, even if I am somewhat wiser now… Close
Written by UK Flower Girl on 11 Sep, 2006
Rotorua has several amazing choices when it comes to geothermal areas. Tom and I didn’t make any plans until we got to Rotorua and got a feel for what the weather was going to do. Since it rained cats and dogs most of the time…Read More
Rotorua has several amazing choices when it comes to geothermal areas. Tom and I didn’t make any plans until we got to Rotorua and got a feel for what the weather was going to do. Since it rained cats and dogs most of the time we were there, we felt it didn’t make sense to go out of our way so we chose Te Puia, or Maori Arts and Crafts Centre, just up the road from the hotel.Geared with our umbrellas we headed to the park in the overcast, grey weather. Armed with our 10% off coupon from Avis, the total came to NZ$45. As we purchased our tickets a light mist started. Shall we stand her in the misting rain and wait 20 minutes for the guided tour to start? Not with rain forecasted! Off we went with our brochure and map. Signs and arrows around the park lead the way around the different paths. Posted information signs tell stories and give insight into each of the sites. Some sites even had audio guides in several languages, which spoke entirely too slow and although interesting, not so much in the rain. Tom and I set off on the nature trail past bubbling mud pools, boiling puddles of water, and hissing steam coming from the earth. The heat was intense in some areas, but others weren’t very impressive due to the rain hindering or masking activity. Be sure to watch for the Maori carvings hidden amongst the greenery along the trails.One of my favourite things to see was the Cooking Pool or Ngararatuatara. Its sign reads: "Ngararatuatara derived its name as the surrounding edges of this continuously boiling spring of crystal clear water resembles the skin of a Tuatara, New Zealand’s largest native lizard. It is an alkaline spring which is constantly boiling and flowing. As the water flows down the slopes beyond, it cools and deposits silica to form a delicate sinter apron. This pool in former times was used for cooking Maori delicacies. Today this pool is used to cook food such as sweet corn, mussels, watercress and other foods." It was unreal to stand there and watch a boiling pool of water right there in the earth. It shows you how truly magnificent the earth really is.Once we got about three-quarters of the way around, it really started raining. So much that umbrellas weren’t doing much anymore. Legs, feet, and arms were not protected very well. At least our heads are dry! The last thing to see in the geothermal area was the geysers, most notably the Pohutu and Prince of Wales geysers, which go off at varying times of the day. The geysers are situated in the area called Blue Pool because of its intense blue colour which collects outflows from the geysers. It was used as a bathing pool with temps ranging from 30-50C. As the rain poured down, we stood there wondering how long before the geyser would go and how long were we willing to wait? The Maori Concert started at 12:15 and we needed some time to walk over there. Considering it was only 11:15 or so, we had some time to waste Standing under a flimsy umbrella in the pouring rain, staring at the earth in hopes that the geyser would erupt sometime soon wasn’t exactly my idea of fun after about 20 minutes. Little spurts of water and steam came out of the ground every few minutes, but we didn’t know if this happened all the time or if it meant the geyser was building up. Finally, after standing there for close to 45 minutes, it really started to go.Steam and water sprayed high up into the air (it can go as high as 90 feet or 30m). I don’t know how high it went, as it was difficult to judge the scale of it all. It was an amazing sight, and at this point I was glad that we waited. People stood in awe watching the powers of the earth releasing built-up energy. After about 5 to 10 minutes of this, I had enough and was ready to go over to the Maori concert. By the time we got to the Maori house, quite a few people had piled in, so there weren’t any seats left in front. A seat towards the back corner assured we wouldn’t be in the way of anyone when taking photos. We watched as native Maori sang songs, told tales, and played a Maori stick game. Most interesting was the Maori Poi--a women's dance done with balls, or poi, attached to flax strings which they swung around rhythmically. This used to be done to keep their hands flexible for weaving and for the men to keep up strength and coordination for battle.Once the show ended, we walked over to the Arts and Crafts Institute to see what kinds of things were on the agenda for today. A flax weaving demonstration had just started. Flax was the most important plants to Maori—uses included skirts, lines, cord, baskets, mats, fishing nets, and so on. The institute also teaches traditional Maori carving. Carvers out of here have gone on to restore meeting houses across New Zealand. We were unable to take in a carving demonstration that day.At the end of the demonstration, Tom and I headed towards the gift shop. I wanted a regional Maori souvenir. I spotted a substantial assortment of jade, leaving me very confused. Large, small, cheap, expensive—how were these things priced? This is when I found out a little secret. Much of the jade (also known as greenstone or pounamu in NZ) sold in New Zealand isn’t even NZ jade; it is comes from other areas with more abundant jade such as Russia. In actual fact, you will pay dearly for jade, or greenstone, native to the area. I said, "What is the difference between this one and that one?" pointing to two necklaces. The shop assistant discreetly wrote on a piece of paper and slipped it to me—odd behaviour, indeed. The paper read, "Not NZ Jade." And she pointed behind her saying, "Shhh, my boss"—-as if she isn’t supposed to be telling customers this "secret." I ended up buying a small jade pendant for my sister in this shop deciding to wait to find one for myself.Overall, Te Puia is definitely worth visiting. The geothermal sites leave you with a new appreciation of the earth’s powers. The different sites around the trail from the boiling mud pots to the geysers were all interesting in their own way. The Arts and Crafts Institute is a peek into the history and culture of the Maori people, and this is their way of helping to pass these traditional works to the young people of the islands.Just down the road from Te Puia, you can follow the road towards the Buried Village and find yourself in the car park near the Green and Blue Lakes. These lakes are legendary in NZ there is a legend or two to go along with them: Maori legendsThe Green Lake, or Rotokakahi, is the lake to the south and is completely undeveloped as it is sacred to the Maori. You won’t find water sports or walking trails or large homes built up along this lake. It is the larger of the two lakes and flows into Lake Tarawera via Te Wairoa waterfalls. It appears green due to the shallow sandy bottom. By contrast, the Blue Lake, or Tikiapu, is the water-sports centre for the area—water skiing, kayaking, swimming, etc. It is a volcanic caldera, so it is deeper than the Green Lake and it has no outlet. The water appears a turquoise colour due to the reflections of white rhyolite and pumice on the bottom. Tikiapu is derived from a Maori chief’s daughter who lost her tiki. If you stand up on the large rock, you can catch a glimpse of both of these lakes and note the colour difference. Although, due to the heavy rain, the day we were there, the sun wasn’t able to reflect any colour for us. From the car park, Tom and I took a nice hike into the forest. A nice path led right into the forest, where we became enthralled by ferns of all sizes, giant redwood trees, and lush surroundings. We didn’t let a little (or a lot) of rain get in the way. After an hour of walking, breathing in fresh forest air, searching for mushrooms, and taking in the stillness of the forest, we decided to head back. When we returned to the car, our jackets had been soaked through and we needed dry clothes.This area is the heart of the Lake District with several lakes. You will find dozens of walking trails all around the lakes and forest. If you happen to be in the area, take advantage of your lush surroundings and may you stay dry! Close
Tom and I left Rotorua headed south towards Taupo and on to Mount Taranaki, where we would be spending 1 night. We chose Rotorua over Taupo on this holiday, so we didn’t have time to take in everything around Taupo. North of Taupo we spent…Read More
Tom and I left Rotorua headed south towards Taupo and on to Mount Taranaki, where we would be spending 1 night. We chose Rotorua over Taupo on this holiday, so we didn’t have time to take in everything around Taupo. North of Taupo we spent a bit of time exploring some of nature’s powers—the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station, Huka Falls, and Craters of the Moon (created as a direct result of the power station).Wairakei Geothermal Power Station is located off of the main road, Hwy 1, north of Taupo. Watch for signs to the power station itself, as well as the Geothermal Borehole Lookout. We didn’t have time to visit the power station, but we did go up to look at the steam field. My husband, an engineer, was particularly impressed by the pipes. Shiny, high-pressure steam pipes twist and turn approximately 2km from the boreholes to the power station. It is an incredible sight to see these shiny silver pipes stretched out across the valley with steam belching from the earth."This power station uses geothermal fluid produced in this steamfield to generate electricity. Initial investigations and exploratory wells in this steamfield were undertaken in the 1950s. There have been more than 200 wells drilled in this steamfield and there are approximately 60 wells currently in production. Wells over 2,000m deep tap into zones of hot fluid, at temperatures of 230-260C. When the fluid reaches the surface, it is separated at the well head into dry steam and hot water in a cyclonic separator. The hot water is either collected and piped to secondary ‘flash’ separators at a Flash Plant, where additional dry steam is produced at lower pressure, or reduced to atmospheric pressure in well head silencers. The residual hot water is either piped to the Binary Power Plant at the power station to reinjection wells on the steamfield perimeter or discharged into open drains. Around 1,400 tonnes per hour of steam is produced in the field and transmitted to the power station through insulated pipelines varying in diameter from 300 to 1200mm. Steam travels at about 200 kph in the pipelines. Many of these steam wells have been in production since the power station was commissioned in 1958 generating renewable steam and sustainable energy." The creation of this site created some interesting happenings up the road. A new geothermal area, Craters of the Moon, was created after the underground thermodynamics were altered. It isn’t a beautiful geothermal site with colourful lakes and geysers, but there is enough steam and hissing to keep you guessing while walking along the 2km of trails. It is free to visit this site, although the parking area has been taken over by a volunteer group that accepts donations to keep the car park guarded—NZ$5 won’t go unappreciated.There were instances of burned feet and legs so a wooden plank has now been built to keep those feet cool. It is recommended that you stay on the trail to keep you safe and so you aren’t trampling on delicate plants and such. This is very difficult to do when you see steam spewing from a hole or when you can hear hissing and gurgling. I am not telling you to walk off of the trail, but it is much more exciting when you can see the bottom of the pit. Beware: Some areas look like a well-worn path but may be like that due to extreme heat. You wouldn’t want to ruin the rest of your holiday because of burned feet!Fumaroles, mud pits, and other natural features were created when the power station started using more of the ground water. There is less water for cooling the magma below the earth causing these things to occur. The ground cavity used to be full of water but is now full of steam; hence, the major amount of steam billowing from the earth here. As stated above, some of the water is put back into the earth, but not all of it is replaced.Make sure you take a look at the strange vegetation in this micro climate. You will see mosses and algae that don’t normally grow here, but due to the heat and steam they now do. Other plants that would normally survive in this area don’t survive due to the steam.This is an easy walk for most people to do and could potentially be wheelchair accessible, although I think it would be a difficult whether you are pushing someone or wheeling yourself. If you want the extra effort, there is an additional loop trail off of the main trail to the upper lookout that is steep in places and is not wheelchair-accessible. It will add at least 20 minutes to your walk.Located between these two stops is another famous site, Huka Falls at the Waikato River, one of New Zealand’s most voluminous rivers. Huka Falls, or "great body of spray," is the area where the river is funneled through a narrow chasm and then plunges over a ten-metre shelf into eddies and whirlpools. A walking bridge spans the area providing a bird’s eye view of the spectacle. At times, there can be 300,000 litres (60,000 gallons) of water per second rushing over the shelf. It is such an incredible shade of turquoise blue that is very difficult to capture on film.For those wanting some adventure out of all of this, Huka jet provides you with a heart-stopping jet-boat ride up the river at 80kph to the base of the falls. Like other places in New Zealand, you won’t believe the colour of the waterfalls. If you are ever more adventurous, crazy even, you may want to canoe or kayak the falls. It has been done with proper training and gear, but I wouldn’t recommend it.A quick stop to these three sights won’t take more than a couple of hours at the most. Although these aren’t the most popular things to do on the tourist route, you will still find packed car parks and plenty of people. If you want to take a look at varying degrees of the Earth’s powers, this is as good a place as any. Close
Written by Heartwewiltravl on 02 Jul, 2004
New Zealand winters are the northern hemisphere's summer and are quite chilly. Remember to bring a large jacket and a few sweaters; gloves are also VERY helpful. The southern island is the only one that gets snow, so if you are planning to travel down…Read More
New Zealand winters are the northern hemisphere's summer and are quite chilly. Remember to bring a large jacket and a few sweaters; gloves are also VERY helpful. The southern island is the only one that gets snow, so if you are planning to travel down south, be prepared.
Rugby is a very good way to get the blood flowing, but be prepaired to get muddy. I suggest wearing plain old shorts and a t-shirt, and to find people you are comfortable playing with.