Feeling much more rested today after traveling yesterday, we went to the front desk to ask for a map and some tips on things to visit in the area. We decided to see the things within walking distance today since we had been on a plane and in a car so much the past 24 hours. Our first stop of course was to find some breakfast. We walked to a little local cafe and ordered a couple of bagels which was their specialty…we noticed right away the crazy prices…$10 for a bagel with tomato, cream cheese and avocado?? Is all of New Zealand going to be like this or did we just happen to pick a very over priced cafe? We sat and had our nothing special but very expensive bagels with a cup of coffee as we looked through the pamphlets our hotel had just given us.
After breakfast, we walked through some of the shops and various streets getting lost only once. But it was a good thing we walked in the wrong direction because we ran right into Pandora. My charm bracelet is getting full…as we visit each country, I continue to pick a charm to represent our visit…I picked a rugby ball since we are in New Zealand for a Rugby World Cup game.
We made our way in the right direction to the Rotorua Museum. It was housed in one of the oldest buildings in town. We bought our tickets and started our history lessons. The city of Rotorua is known for its geological location, the city itself is literally sitting inside an active crater. The area has many natural hot springs and the air has a consistent scent of sulfur. As you walk around, you can actually see smoke rising from the earth.
The museum building itself was a geothermal spa back in 1908 which used the natural hot springs to cure various ailments. They showed us a short film on the history of the land and the volcano that killed over 150 people in 1886. We also walked through the basement which showed all the piping they had networked into the building and into the baths. There were a couple old bathtubs and shower where people once sat in mud.
Upstairs was an additional room with more of an art display and a focus on the history of New Zealand Rugby…and its history with the indigenous tribal people long ago. The museum was closing so we made one last stop which was the roof of the building. Once we got to the top, the view showed us a bay of water which was literally a creamy white from such a high amount of sulfur. From here, we could see the entire rim of the crater sitting on a volcano…we were inside looking up at the top. If this volcano erupts, we’re definitely in trouble!
Once out of the museum, we walked back through the garden area and admired the beautiful flowers. We walked over to the Polynesian Spa which was built around hot water springs. They had a big store full of lotions and soaps and other beauty products made with the natural minerals found in the area. It also has numerous hot spring pools. They sell tickets to either rent a private hot spring pool for a couple of hours or an all day pass to the multiple hot springs of different temperatures. We toured the facility admiring how the pools weren’t like others we’ve seen…where it’s a manmade pool with hot spring water, instead it was more of a natural rocky structure. We spent some time shopping in the store full of goodies. We bought some mud soap and lotions made with a honey only found in New Zealand and known to have several benefits to the skin called Manuka.
We made our way back to the hotel and found a little wine store in town. We bought a couple of bottles of local wine and ordered take-out from a well-known Indian restaurant. We noticed the majority of restaurants in the area had a heavy asian and Indian influence. We sat for a beer at one of the local bars while our food cooked and then ate dinner watching anther rugby match in our room. Tomorrow we are going to explore one of the geothermal parks.