September 6, 2017
Very short trip to Rotorua today, 59 kms. Pouring rain as we left Count Down after shopping. Sat in the parking lot while it died down a bit. No sooner did we get on SH 36, the main road to Rotorua, but there was an accident that blocked both lanes. Fortunately, we had to sit for only 20 minutes.
Although a short distance, it took us nearly 2 hours to drive through mountainous gorges and many hairpin turns. Arrived at Top 10 Holiday Park by 12:30. Camp has more cabins than spots for campers. The place is immaculate, wonderful restrooms, lounges and mineral hot pools!
Rotorua is one of the most touristy spots on the North Island. The population is about 65,000 but they get 3 million tourists each year. This the land of the Maori, steaming hot springs, spurting geysers and mud pools.
We booked for tonight the Tamaki Maori Village that does a twilight tour to a Maori village south of Rotorua. Apparently there is an interactive journey through Maori history, arts, traditions and customs from pre-European times to present day. The concert is then followed by hangi, a Maori feast. We were very disappointed to learn that the museum was closed. Decided to book a Duck Tour tomorrow morning because we are supposed to get very rains again. After making our booking we realized that if we didn’t stay another night we would miss Lady Knox geyser at 10:15 at Wai-O-Tapu
Had a quick sushi lunch in camp and then walked into town about 15 minutes. We walked by Kuirau Park, the second biggest attraction in town, that supposedly has a volcanic area, crater lake and pools of boiling mud. We didn’t see any obvious activity but perhaps on the way back to camp.
Bob was more impressed with the town than I. Known as Sulphur City or “RotoVegas” there were lots of sushi shops, souvenirs and empty store fronts. The big draw are the Maori performances and thermal pools. We did see Capers Epicurean that had lots of good looking sandwiches, pastries and cakes along with a deli stocked full of relishes, jams, chocolates etc. Looked like they had good breakfasts and coffee.
Walking back we tried to find the volcanic area of Kuirau Park. About all we saw was a little steam! At that we got a bit lost but got back to camp before it started to rain.
Doubt that we stay another night. We will move on to Taupo, another short distance. Right now we are a day or two ahead of our schedule!