We're at Lake Taupo now. What a day…
We woke up, had breakfast (I didn't bother with the spa, deciding I wasn't interested in carting around wet shorts), and then went for a walk through a nearby park. Amazing. The park was built around mud pools and steam vents. So much of it! And they're wrong – you don't get used to the smell, it just starts to make you feel sick. Revolting. The smell is caused by escaping sulphur gases from the area, and we were walking through areas where the sulphur gases just waft over you. What I DID get used to was just not breathing when you're walking through the sulphur gases.
So after the walk, we went for a drive to the lakeside (Lake Rotorua), where we found a Maori 'Marae' (sacred meeting place, pronounced 'ma-rye') and walked around it taking photos. I'm sure if any Maoris spotted us as Mel stood on their statues and posed for photos, we would have been boiled alive in one of the hot pools and eaten! Or just thrown out of the Marae… Either way, I'm glad no one saw us.
Then we went to an authentic Maori village on the edge of town, which was populated by Maoris who look after the hot pools and geysers that the village is built around. Amazing shit, and I can honestly say that there's no way I'd be living in a place like that!
Small houses and craft shops built next door to gas vents and pools of hot water or mud. Every morning and evening they have communal baths in hot water provided by the hot water pools. The bathing water is provided by a large pool that is about 100 degrees celsius, heated from under the earth. Uh huh. They have it trickling into their outdoor baths, so that when they've finished with it, they pull out the plug and empty it, and then put the plug back in and by the time they're ready to use the baths again, the trickling water has filled them up again – and cooled the water temperature down somewhat. What I found disconcerting was that the plugs were cloths, because anything else corroded too quickly in the water. And they bathe in this?! Sheesh.
We're walking around this place, and there's a newly erected barrier around a section of the footpath. A large sulphur vent had opened up and collapsed a section of the ground – including the footpath. There was a hole where everything disappeared into it, and where thick plumes of sulphur came out of. Again, how do you live in an area where you could fall into a newly opened hole and be boiled alive?
People don't go digging in Rotorua, as there's too much risk of opening up a gas vent or a hot mud pool. Riiight…
So after wandering around the village for a while, joining a guided tour and watching an authentic Maori concert, we headed off to Taupo. It took us less than an hour to get here, and on the way we booked a massage for both of us for 4pm. We arrived around 2pm, and just relaxed in our room until we went off to have a massage. Now we're relaxing again. We haven't seen anything of Taupo, but it's nice to relax.
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