25.12.2009 23 °C
Our next stop in the Northern island was Rotorua, better known as Sulphur City thanks to its rotten egg smell. But yes, its thermal baths are supposed to be great for your body so we thought we could stop by. Not only that, Rotorua was the starting point of fun extreme New Zealand. If Australia is known for its crazy people and spectacular exotic landscapes, New Zealand is known for its even crazier people and extreme sports. They invent new extreme sports...as soon as we got to Rotorua we actually found a lot of advertisement on ZORB, where you basically run downhill inside a gigantic plastic sphere, and of course everything gets out of control. But Rotorua was also home to a rafting circuit that included a 7metre waterfall, and we were up for that!
It was hard finding accommodation in Rotorua as some sort of World Motorbike Exhibit was taking place, but we managed to find two beds in the Base Backpackers. The weather was pretty miserable when we got there, with that pathetic drizzle that isn't rain but is still annoying, so we thought the best thing to do was to spend a couple of hours in the hot tubs of the Polynesian Spa, just in the centre. They were actually really nice, most of the swimming pools were on the outside, just beside the Rotorua Lake and we were sitting there, under the rain in water that was hot 40 °C. That night, we slept like babies ;-)
We had booked our rafting tour for the following morning so when we got up we were pretty excited. We were picked up around midday and the driver was already freaking nuts. We would find out later that one of the instructors does some crazy waterfalls on his kayak i.e. 100 ft! We got all pretty in our wetsuits, booties and helmets and drove to the Kaituna River. We were divided in groups of 6 and met our instructor, Chonk. So Chonk talked us through some instructions and a few minutes later we were in the raft, cruising down the Kaituna. The most expected moment was the 7mtr waterfall, where we just had to row a couple of times and then curl inside the raft and just hold to the ropes. We tried this first with a couple of waterfalls that were just about 2mtr high, and that was exciting so the big one seemed a bit scary! However it turned out to be a lot of fun! Before going down we had to scream some words in maori with Chonk, then row quickly and protect our heads for the big one...we were lucky that our raft didn't capsize, but at a certain point we were completely underwater, raft, bodies, heads...everything! It was so cool, we wanted to repeat! The only problem was that after that everything seemed easy peasy!
After our perfect rafting experience we decided to drive around Rotorua and ended up visiting Tarawera Lake and Blue Lake, both incredibly beautiful, and Nick even had a swim despite how freezing the water was! That night we got invited to a free pizza at the hostel's bar as we had booked the tour through them and went straight to bed, despite the partying mood of the rest of the people.
The next morning we woke up early to visit Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal park full of sulphur and mud pools, volcanic craters and a geyser that is forced to erupt daily at the same time. So we saw the geyser erupt, and afterwards did the whole tour of the park. Literally, there was steam coming out of the ground everywhere...we had never seen something similar earlier. New Zealand was already surprising us in a really good way...