by Darrin Zammit-Lupi Published 01/06/2015
In the limited time of three days I visited four sites, Whaka Thermal Village, Te Puia, Wai-OTapu and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. All are extremely interesting in what they have to offer and are well worth the visit.
Walking through Waimangu Volcanic Valley is like being in a Jurassic lost world, without the dinosaurs.
Thick vegetation, and smouldering hills surround volcanic crater lakes on which steam swirls and dances, almost to the rhythm of the geothermal activity. It's a good 4km walk, which ends down at the lake, or you can use the shuttle bus.
Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Water) is the most colourful of the thermal parks. From the famous Champagne pool with its fizzing bubbles, to the Artist's palette, the vibrant colours of which are unbelievably stunning.
Like the Greek god, Medusa, these pools are irresistibly attractive but deadly. Falling into one of the pools would possible end up in fatality. Keeping to the walk paths is imperative.
Te Puia boasts the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere. Pohutu (Constant Splashing) is considered a gift from the gods. It erupts two or three times every hour and could reach a height of 15 metres. Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Village hosts the Te Awara people and is an ideal place to learn some of the local culture.
"Put the vegetable in the muslin cloth, five to six swishes in the water and our vegetables are done," says one of the experienced tour guides, "Same applies to shellfish ... exactly 10 seconds and our shellfish are done. Any more than that and you could bounce it on the concrete."
After each satisfying day, I looked forward to soaking in a spa in my room at the Tuscany Villas Motel.
Rotorua has emerged as a major tourist attraction in New Zealand. Besides the geothermal parks, there are other activities such as Zorbing, rafting, mountain biking, hiking or just lazing in a hot spring at the Polynesia Spa.
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