Whakarewarewa

Whakarewarewa the living Maori village

Today is a busy day since I visited Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland this morning and now I am heading to a Maori village experience. I’ve been interested in the Maori and have been waiting to do some cultural and educational event to learn more about the culture. My campsite in Rotorua recommends Whakarewarewa as a more authentic village to visit.

I arrive late afternoon and catch a tour a few minutes in. Unfortunately I miss out on a Maori geothermal cooked meal since I am late for lunch.

Our tour guide takes us around the village and explains the typical life of a villager.

Steam box for cooking
Sleeping hut

We learn about two unique ways of cooking: one is in a steam box another is in a steaming hot lake.

Hot box
Boiling Lake
Food is placed in a bag, attached to a rope and lowered into the water to cook.

We also learn how the geothermal heat is used for bathing.

We are taken further through the village where we are taken to a community building.

There is another geyser nearby and I am here just in time to see it erupt.

I didn’t arrive in time to taste a geothermal cooked meal but I am there in time to see a cultural show. It is nice to see the dances, some with props.

I finish my visit trying some corn.

I head back to the campsite to rest for the rest of the afternoon but it is hot out.

Van life is getting old.

I think it could have been the long drive the day before, or maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t get my milk for my coffee in the campsite kitchen until 7 AM (kitchen is locked overnight) – van life has taken a toll on me. I’m beginning to think that this might not be a long-term solution for me. I like the freedom and simplicity but sometimes the discomfort of van life is too much especially when you’re not feeling well. Yesterday and today are pretty hot and after a long day of sightseeing outdoors the last thing I want to do is go back to my van and sweat. The nail in the coffin is when I somehow run out of my 1 GB of free data even though I am barely on my phone and laptop the whole entire time I am there (wifi at campsites is lacking or spotty at best, most charge extra). I’m leaving the campsite and getting a hotel room. I can’t do this right now. This is technically my last night of van camping since I have a hotel tomorrow night and return the van in Auckland the day after. I could tough it out one more night but I just can’t do it tonight.

After a booking.com mix up I finally get a motel room. I have AC and wifi, the only downside is now I can smell the sulfur smell, even with the windows closed in my room. Luckily it doesn’t bother me too much.

At some point a couple days prior I stupidly drove off with a glass on the counter of my van and broke it (broken dish number 2 – they really should provide plastic dishes in these things). Luckily I returned to the same chain in a different city and replaced the broken glass with an almost match. Don’t tell the rental place! Hopefully they won’t notice the difference.

Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland

People visit Rotorua New Zealand for a couple reasons but one of the big ones is to witness the geothermal activity. Driving into the area you will notice small clouds of smoke coming from the ground and the distinct smell of sulfur. The smell is almost everywhere but I get lucky when my chosen campsite doesn’t seem to have the strong scent. There are other disadvantages to camping there, which I will talk about later, but the smell is not one of them.

First on the agenda in town is to visit the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland which at the time of this post is currently closed for renovations. Luckily it is open while I am in town.

I arrive in time to see the geyser, Lady Knox Geyser, which is made to erupt daily at 10.15am.

A ranger puts a concoction in to stimulate an eruption. It can erupt on its own but to get a determined showtime they force it along. The size of the eruption can vary due to different weather conditions. Luckily today it put on a good show for us.

After the show it takes a while to get out of the parking lot since everyone is leaving at once.

Once inside the geothermal park I walk along a path and witnesses little areas of smoke and colored rocks due to all the different minerals.

I walk by some mud pools. Too hot to swim in but I bet that mud will make me look beautiful.

Finally I start reaching the pools with all the different colors such as this large Champagne pool.

I wander further and see some art along the trail.

While walking around I notice little bubbling pools of mud. They gurgle and I am sure they will burn to touch.

I come across a lake. It is nice and peaceful to rest there for a little while.

The yellow sign is not scary at all <sarcasm>.

I love the patterns on the ground.

More pools

There is a bright green pool … almost looks toxic.

At the end I end up a shopping fool at the gift shop. I buy everything mud and stock up on the moisturizing sunscreen that I love.

The visit is nice but it is time to head over to Whakarewarewa to learn about Maori culture. More on that later….