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The Great Adventure

Geothermal Wonderland

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 1 December 2008 | Views [481]

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From the moment you enter the city of Rotorua, you’re hit with the pungent odor of rotten eggs.  One elderly passenger opened the window a crack and allowed the stench of sulfur to engulf the entire bus.  Rotorua is a mystery onto itself, or perhaps more a mystery of human nature.  I spent much of my time there wondering why anyone thought it was a good idea to build a city on the flattened remains of an active volcano. 

In the centre of town, Kairau park hisses and steams with the wrath of the underworld.  Mud boils up from fenced off pits just across from the playground and steam seeps from cracks in the earth.  I walked across the boardwalk over Lake Kairau and watched the wind blow steam across the surface of the lake, mesmerized, until the wind blew a little too much in my direction and I was engulfed in a thick cloud of sulfur.  It is a peculiar place. 

One beautiful Saturday morning in late November, the town of Rotorua slathered themselves with sunscreen and flocked to city centre for the annual Santa Parade.  It was an interesting experience to watch a Santa parade in shorts and a tank top, and I’m not sure if I’ll get used to the Southern Hemisphere Christmas.  The parade featured, among other things, elves, ogres, Santa, girls in bikinis, sheep, a girl in a kiwi bird suit, water pistols and several floats depicting Christmas on various tropical islands.  That’s not to mention the musical styling’s of Little Drummer Boy, bagpipes, Let it Snow and Rhianna.   I asked a kiwi about their Christmas carols, and she said “oh yeah, we sing all sorts of carols about snow.”  I guess there aren’t that many that aren’t.

The following day was warm and gorgeous, and we could think of nothing better to do than head out of town and roll down a hill in a giant plastic bubble.  Zorbing is a bit like a waterslide, and a bit like what I would imagine it would feel like to be trapped in a hamster ball.  After jumping superman-style through a tight hole in the zorb, I struggled to my feet in a pool of water and began pushing on the wall of the ball, down the hill.  Within seconds I was on my ass again and rolling zigzag style down the hill, not sure which way was up.  I sloshed around like that for about 60 seconds before coming to a halt at the bottom and sliding out and plopping on the ground, an act which looks and feels a bit like being born. 

(Bagawk!)

Tags: activities, holiday, north island, parade, park, rotorua, thermal, zorb

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