Rotorua Rocks!! (New Zealand)

Rotorua is the most famous city in the north island of New Zealand. Full of natural geysers, mud pools, craters and volcanic valleys, this city is the hot bed for geo thermal activities.

Interestingly, Rotorua is also the cultural capital of New Zealand and we got a taste of all these during our stay in this city of the north island of the country.

Our adventure to the world of thermal and volcanic activities started early next morning when we left for our visits to Te Whakarewarewa and Te Puia, the two most well known places in the city to see and experience nature’s creations.

We first stopped at the boiling mud pool. It was indeed an amazing sight; a large pool of thick muddy water continuously boiling accompanied by the bubbling sound and steaming away. At places the concentration of mud was so high that it almost seemed a pattern had been formed by mud rings and with a soft glugging sound, suddenly there was a plop! A handful of boiling mud had spurt up….we were excited, people from the city, only used to seeing skyscrapers and malls, watching natural stuffs.

Our next stop was the Pohutu Geyser. Pohutu, meaning the ‘Big Splash’ or the ‘Explosion’ is an active geyser and erupts more than 20 times a day. As we watched the boiling mud pools our guide told us that it was time for ‘Pohutu’ to erupt……how do you know? We asked, she said, we understand the geyser’s language and more because the nearby smaller geyser, the ‘Prince of Wales’ Feathers’ geyser always erupted a little prior to the ‘Pohutu.’ We all stood to watch nature’s amazing act as initially only a waft of smoke came out of the mouth of the geyser followed by sprinkles of water and finally there was a big whoosh and a voluminous fountain of hot water spurted up and shot up to almost 20m in the air. We all applauded, as if it was a show that had fixed timings. This ‘show’ was to continue for the next 5 to 10 minutes and we moved on to visit the Kiwi center where we saw how, the almost extinct national bird of the country was kept in nocturnal environment, even when it was mid day outside.

Out of this scenario we went to visit the Maori (tribal) village. The Maori culture is considered to be a major attraction among all visitors to New Zealand. The two big activities in the Maori village were the concerts and the ‘Hangi’, the traditional way of Maori cooking. Both this activities involved participation from the audience and it was good fun when we experienced the dramatic Maori ‘haka’, the war dances and ‘poi’ dances in which women twirled balls of woven flax with amazing agility and speed.

We also got to see Maori carvings, weaving, traditional musical instruments, went for bush walks and experienced their traditional food cooked in ‘Hangi’ style which was actually where food wrapped in foils were placed inside a pit on volcanic rocks that were preheated in fire. The food was then covered with a gunny bag and the entire pit filled up with soil. After a couple of hours the food was taken out, perfectly cooked and delicious with the earthly aroma.

Another New Zealand specialty that we tasted was Pavlova; an exotic concoction of egg white, sugar and rings of the kiwifruit. Available almost everywhere, the dessert is available on small containers as well as in large portions and one scoop from the sugary upper crust, we were exposed to an entire world of a foamy meringue, loads of cream and the fruit.

For wine lovers, we got to taste New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Both these varieties come from a number of vineyards around the country and the tastes are fruity and lovely. With the characters of passion fruit and gooseberry accompanied by the zing of the acid, the former went beautifully well with barbequed sea food whereas the latter with its ruby red colour, aromas of blackberry and raspberry and fruity flavour, was a must with meaty items.

We spent the day well with geysers, mud pools and the tribals, experienced a part of the exotic cuisine and returned, eagerly waiting for the next day which would again be full of adventure.