Our Rotorua Visit
Although our time in Rotorua was cut short, we were able to participate in many special activities. This town is renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. Bubbling mud pools, steam rising off the lake, geysers, and the smell of sulphur greet every visitor. Our first night here we attended the Te Puia Cultural Evening. We were greeted by our Maori guide. Mark S. was chosen as our “chief” for the evening. Mark was required to accept a piece of greenery on our behalf. This was followed by a dance and ball twirling. The boys had an opportunity to join the Maori group and practice their dance skills. The hangi (banquet) came next. After dinner, we boarded a small train and headed out for a moonlight viewing of the Pohutu Geyser. It is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere and typically erupts once or twice every hour.
The next day, some students had the opportunity to go zorbing. This sent a group of students rolling down the hills of Rotorua. Students were encased in a giant zorb ball. This ball was filled with water to make the experience even more memorable. Shrieks of laughter, as the students slid down the hill, could be heard!
Other students visited Hobbiton, the real Middle-earth, a movie set, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies. It was very exciting to see the “Shire” at the Alexander family sheep farm, just as the acclaimed director Sir Peter Jackson did. It felt like we were experiencing life as the hobbits did in the time of The Lord of the Rings. We had the opportunity to walk past the Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and into the world-famous Green Dragon Inn. It was a magical experience and very special for the fans of this famous series.
Another activity that was very popular was a visit to the Polynesian Spa, a geothermal bathing experience, in both acidic and alkaline natural mineral hot springs. For centuries these natural mineral hot springs, discovered by New Zealand’s earliest inhabitants, have been known to have therapeutic benefits. This spa is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, carefully retaining elements of early building and baths, to preserve this natural wonder.
To complete the busy day, we travelled to the remarkable Redwoods Nightlights. This is a treewalk through the Redwood Forest. Nature is alight with lanterns that were designed by the renowned New Zealand designer David Trubridge. We really enjoyed the amazing light display with numerous unique lanterns lighting up the forest and ferns.