"What's a girl to do when she has one full day left in Rotorua?" That's the thought I awoke to first thing this morning. Well ok, the first was probably "where the hell is that rotten egg smell coming from?!" but I'm all for starting my posts on a more positive note.

Sidebar, the smell was coming from both the window we'd accidently left open overnight (Lesson Number 27: thanks to the rampant geothermal activity going on underneath it, the beautiful city of Rotorua kind of has a slight sulphuric smell to it. Best keep the windows closed if a) you're not quite used to yet or b) you're majorly hungover!) and my swimming costume hanging on the radiator next to me, despite having washed it several times since the dunking in Hell's Gate...

Thank GOODNESS this room has it's own bathroom. Blurgh!
Speaking of that cursed window, it does overlook this gorgeous park opposite the Hot Rocks hostel, which has intrigued and called to me since I first got off the bus; something about the seeming normality of the greenery and flowers but with the luring prescense of foggy smoke rising above the treetops. It's unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Needless to say my curiousity was peaked, and if I don't go check it out now then when?

So armed with my camera and bad sense of direction, I crossed the road and went to go get lost.

The first thing I discovered, in amongst the bushes and cordoned off jets of gas that had leaked through the ground, was a tiny little secret stone hut covering what looked like a shallow pool of water - as Alice would say, "curiouser and curiouser". Now usually I wouldn't risk my appendages sticking them into uncharted waters (especially after listening to the Hell's Gate tour guide and his 'Dumb Ways To Die: Rotorua Edition' tales) but there was several small children happily splashing around in it, so what harm could it possibly do? Off came the socks and shoes, and HOOO BOY, that water was toasty! I couldn't work out if it was just naturally heated, or if it had the same properties as the Sulphur Spa, but either way I didn't expect to start this quest by gaining pruned tootsies. What a pleasant surprise!

After eventually tearing myself away (read: I think I scared the locals with the paleness of my legs. Look at the picture, they're practically luminous!) I found myself a path that wasn't entirely roped off and followed it. The smog was getting thicker and thicker the further along I went, to the point where I couldn't decide if it was purely atmospheric or genuinely noxious to be in much longer, when all of a sudden it cleared enough to reveal... that I was now on a lake! This gloriously eerie lake with vats of smoke or steam rolling off   it in great clouds, with needle-like trees that were somehow still alive poking up through as if they'd come straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Nothing but thin wooden planks separating me from falling into the River Styx. It took everything in my power not to hum Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water'...

Didn't stop me from photographing the absolute crap out of it though! Bring on the Black and White camera settings!
Upon my return from venturing into the Land Before Time, and trying to suss out how to spend the remainder of my last day, I discovered that Yara and I had gained some new roommates - Amy, Sophie and Kiera. Having been there a few days ourselves, we were able to help the girls 'hack' into this particular hostels WiFi (at the time, when the 'one use only' WiFi code ran out you could just put the same code back in on the login page and use it again - MONEY SAVED! Though don't shoot the messenger if this no longer works...) and if that doesn't help bond strangers together, I don't know what will.

It turns out that the girls were going to Tamaki Maori Village later in the evening; as in the same cultural experience that I already happened to have an open ticket for. During my travels so far, I'd found that there are certain activities and experiences that can happily be done solo, but there are also a few that more fun to be done with friends - whether they be old, or newly made on the road - so when they invited me to come along with them, you can bet your sweet ass I ran down to reception to see if there was any open spaces for that night.

Almost as fast as the time the university cleaners threatened to take away my plates and pans from the kitchen. Who, in their first year of uni, can afford to pay a return fee?

So after a quick power nap, we all head down at 7pm to hop on the free bus to the Village. Although it's a lot more commercialised than the first Maori culture evening I experienced, it does not detract from the fact that it was a fantastic, informative and downright fun evening - from the Ancient Ceremony of Welcome (where we were all warned not to smile, a difficult feat as I was enjoying myself so much) to entering the traditional Maori village, were split into groups and went around the 200 year old Tawa forest. Throughout the experience, you get to learn so much about different aspects of Maori life, such as their war training, the poi dance, the haka, weaving, carving and tattoos,  and everyone you meet are so lovely and friendly! Even when they jump out behind you and scare you whilst getting your picture taken...

As if that wasn't enough, after being treated to another set of beautiful performances (seriously, these guys can SING!) we all sat down to this massive buffet feast of a Hangi, which was utterly delicious and waaaaay too easy to stuff yourself silly. I've always maintained that experiencing the native culture of a country is highly important when travelling, so if you're in two minds as to whether Tamaki Maori Village is for you... GO! It's well worth the money, and guaranteed you'll have a brilliant evening. If nothing else, the bus drivers to and from the evening will have you all singing at the top of your lungs all the way home.

And in true traveller style, what last day isn't complete with a trip to the bar? Luckily for us, Hot Rocks has one right next door, and Lava Bar not only had a Yara inside to catch up with, but also a Cheap Tuesdays drink deal...

Best make sure we close that window tonight!



  1. Great blog! GLT is really inspiring me to travel more and I'm glad we can all share our work with each other! Please check out my blog if you get chance www.justmekellymarie.wordpress.com thanks �� xx

    1. Thank you Kelly! Isn't GLT amazing? Travelling is a wonderful life experience to have and I'm so glad it's inspired you. Plus being able to read other people's work is a great way to spend the day. Heading over to your blog now, can't wait to read it :) Have a fab day! xx