Before touring a country, I have always believed in getting as much information about it as possible. This is one way of ensuring you experience the true nature of the country, its customs and most important, the people who live there. The more information I got about New Zealand, greater became my expectations of what I was going to find when I landed on its shores. Prepared with my pre-conceived notions, I was ready to meet my expectations of this new tour experience.
My general knowledge about New Zealand included there were two primary islands, the North Island and the larger South Island and many smaller ones that make up the country. What I found out when I arrived there is that their Maori names are Te Ika-a-Maui and Te Waipounamu, which added a greater sense of adventure to my New Zealand visit.
Rotorua a spectacular different world
New Zealand for any visitor is a land of discovery, with a character all its own. It’s a wealthy country in the Pacific, peaceful and a first impression could be for most, of rolling landscapes and farms that are reminiscent of countryside in England. However, after visiting the regular tourist destinations I believed there was much more to this country and I determined to find the real and natural heart of New Zealand and the Maoris, so began the Rotorua experience.,
Rotorua is situated in the centre of North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui) and is a city on the southern shores of the lake, in the Bay of Plenty area. I quickly discovered that this was a world of spectacular contrasts presented by nature. It is a place that in some ways confuses the mind with its assault on your senses. From extraordinary wildlife and forests, to awe inspiring lakes, rivers and volcanoes dating back to pre-historic times, both active and dormant. If that’s not enough, you are then confronted with the power of its geothermal systems, with geysers and boiling mud pools.
Sulphur Bay and the Te Arawa
Motutara and Sulphur Bay is on Lake Rotorua and is the main reason why many tourists complain of smelling “rotten eggs”. This smell, once you get used to it, becomes part of this almost surreal location, which boasts international hotels, in a warm sulphur area above an active geothermal field, with sulphur vents and mud pools. Situated in the centre of the lake is Mokoia Island, with a native bird reserve and a thermal stream.
There are many extraordinary variations on nature in Rotorua making it difficult to select the exceptions. If you are seeking the untouched magnificence and power of nature, this is the place for the experience. Perhaps adding to the mystique of Rotorua, is the fact that more than 600 years ago, the Te Arawa people settled here and it became their ancestral home.
Their presence gives visitors the opportunity of exploring their culture, which can include the traditional “Hangi feast”, cooked with the steaming ground as its oven. Taking a journey into the world of the Maori with a visit to a village or relaxing in a therapeutic spa, all of which is part of a New Zealand that is a place of escape for the mind and body.
Most memories of an experience in Rotorua linger for a long time, while some remain forever.