Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Day-Trip To Rotorua, New Zealand

My trip to New Zealand, largely, remained confined to the city of Auckland. There is just so much to see....in order to go sight-seeing, one needs at least a month - I was, sadly, in the country for just 5 days.
We managed to befriend an Indian cab-driver who offered to take us on a day-trip to Rotorua at a highly discounted rate - he even got us heavy discounts on the entry fees to all the major tourist attractions!
Rotorua is an amazing place - I clicked more than 350 photos in that one day - all so beautiful - but alas! I had one blonde moment and accidentally deleted all the photos I had clicked. To add salt to my fresh wounds, my brother ended up damaging the memory-card while attempting to recover the photos!
A good friend of mine has told me that there are people who can fix the damage and am hoping he is right...till then, I decided to write an account of all the wonderful things I saw in order to preserve those beautiful moments. The only thing I am thankful for is the random impulse I had the previous night to store all the photos I already clicked on my laptop - Thank God For Small Mercies! Not all is lost...my photos of Auckland are safe! I know that without photos, writing a travel-account is pretty boring but am going to try my best to not make it too dry! And if I am lucky, maybe I will be able to recover the photos and add them later...

We were told to be up early in the morning so that we could leave by 5:30 AM. The cold and the rains made it impossible for me and my lazy brother to be on time - we started off at 6:00 AM - without any breakfast - and headed for Wai-O-Tapu: The Thermal Wonderland. 'Wai-O-Tapu' means 'Sacred Waters' and it is the largest area of surface thermal activity of any hydrothermal system in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Since we did not have a lot of time, we were advised to only follow the trail for Walk One and not do all three. The whole area is covered with craters, mud-pools and boiling springs.
As soon as we entered, we saw The Weather Pool which appeared to be grey in colour owing to the cloudy weather and the heavy rains. The craters had very interesting names such as Devil's Home, Rainbow Crater, Thunder Crater, Devil's Ink Pots, Artist's Palette, The Bird's Nest Crater and Devil's Bath. The pungent smell of sulphur is unbearable but as one continues walking, one gets used to it. The yellow-green sulphur deposits can be seen everywhere but this is not always the case- it depends on the concentration of different mineral elements, The Devil's Ink Pots, for instance, have abundant black deposits of carbon and sulphur. One can see smoke rising from the hot springs and geysers all around the area and it is, perhaps, the only place where you will shiver and sweat at the same time! The Sulphur Cave had beautiful formations of sulphur crystals. It started raining heavily, while we were almost at the end of our walk and the slippery ground made me fall while I was trying to open the umbrella that was given to us. Thankfully I did not fall into any chlorine pool - nor was I hurt!
My favorite part about the place was crossing the terrace on the broadwalk and viewing the Artist's Palette, which had mineral deposits in beautiful orange, yellow and blue colours and water overflowing from the Champagne Pool which is the largest hot spring in the area.

We then went to view the mud-pools and the Lady Knox Geyser which erupts daily at approximately 10:15 AM. My brother managed to take a video of this eruption. This is the only geyser which has no Maori name as it was discovered only in the twentieth century. This geyser has two water chambers - the hot lower chamber and the cool upper chamber. This geyser was discovered by a group of prisoners of the Waiotapu open prison and it was they who found that adding soap to the hot spring causes the water to erupt.

We then visited Whakarewarewa which is a thermal village inhabited by the Maoris. The full name of this village is 'Tewhakarewarewatangaoteopetuawahiao' - our tourist-guide spent a good ten minutes trying to get us to pronounce the full name of the village. As soon as one enters the village, one finds a Memorial Archway that bears the name of all those tribal members who lost their lives in the two World Wars. The Maori cultural performance was very entertaining - I especially loved their war-dance which is called 'Haka'. My brother and some other guys got a chance to do the dance along with the Maoris! The Maori women sound beautiful when they sing and the men look scary when they dance with their tongues and eyes protruding out! Before a war, the men danced like that in order to intimidate the enemies and scare them away so that they would not have to fight at all. The village has numerous thermal springs and geysers. The water from these thermal springs is used for bathing, drinking and cooking. The Maori people have their own religion but there are many who have adopted Christianity - there is one Catholic Church as well as one Anglican Church in the village. The dead are buried outside the Churches and all the tombs are on the surface as the unstable, continuous thermal activity makes it impossible for digging graves that must be at least six feet deep.

The Agrodome is a farm in New Zealand which we visited - this was my least favorite place. We saw the sheep shearing process and I found it to be rather cruel! Was feeling very sorry for the sheep...we also saw how the dogs round up the sheep after grazing and a few lucky people got a chance to bottle-feed lambs and milk cows!

The Rainbow Springs Nature Park was our last destination for the day. This was fun! We fed the swans and the fish, saw the kiwi bird and got our photos taken holding the birds in our hand.

After this we said 'Haera Ra' or 'Farewell' to Rotorua and started off for Auckland. It was a fun day but we were tired, sleep-deprived and hungry! Had the accident with the photos not happened, it would indeed have been one perfect day!


leo said...

hey chanced t visit ur blog cos u had listed dead poets society among ur fav movies...nice travelogue too...tho y didya feel it ws cruelty towards the sheep?cos v take their protective wool?

Sapphire said...

Glad you liked the travelogue :) The guy was actually showing how they shear the sheep - the process is not cruel - it does not hurt the sheep but in order to entertain the people who were watching the sheep being sheared, he was treating the animal rather cruelly and trying to get the sheep to do tricks - and the poor creature was terrified! That was the part I did not like :)

AJ said...

The trip sounds awesome...And while reading you could actually imagine the things which means great description...I like the natural geysers...Always wanted to see one...

Being Pramoda... said...

Hi Saphire..

so u had a beautiful trip all together...thats really nice that u have got an indian driver to show all the places...nice pics too..:)

traveling is a nice deed and hobby which helps us in imprving our knowledge abt many things..and we can meet many ppl..:

keep it up and keep posting..:)

Sapphire said...

Thanks :) :) Maybe you will get to see one soon some day :) :)

Ooh! Travelling is a lot of fun :) I did have a good time :)

leo said...

u know..ws goin through ur blog..n ur dusvidaniyan stood out..as was your post on new yr resolution..but b4 all tht, you do have a lot of my favourite movies-dead poets,before sunrise,a walk to rem,50 first dates..so it was quite surprising to see 'notting hill' and 'finding forrester' missin out.is it that you have seen them an they didnt make it on your list?, or that you havent seen them..if its the latter do watch em..n the thing abt the house by the sea with modern amenities nearby..any ideas?cos i want the exact same thing though am not particular abt the beach thing..it jus has to be a bit isolated n beautiful..its jus tht real estate is happenin these days an by the time i get money i'll have to clear up jungles!!which is a no-no :D so all suggestions are welcome!! :D

Sapphire said...

Hi! Ooh! I love NOTTING HILL - I believe I missed it out!! I have not seen "FINDING FORRESTER" - will definitely check it out :) and thanks for going through all my other posts :) :) I am still 20 - not sure yet where I will get my house by the sea but have my fingers crossed - hopefully will have that figured out soon - and will keep you posted :) :)

leo said...

n btw didya happen t read my new post?its awfully childish of me,but nw that i have started blogging ,i feel the whole world has to drop by n hav a look!!sorry! :D

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