The last two days in Rotorua have been absolutely packed with activities so I have a lot to talk about in this post. Rotorua is a city known for its geothermal activity, meaning it has a lot of beautiful geysers and springs, but the town also smells like sulfur. The first full day I had in Rotorua I went to Waimangu Volcanic Valley on a hike with some people I met at the hostel. The hike starts at the top of the mountain and you work your way down while passing by many craters, thermally heated, acidic lakes and a few geysers. We went for our hike in the morning and because it was a bit colder at that time the lakes and any vents in the earth were releasing tons of steam. It was really quite beautiful.
Later on in the day we decided to walk around lake Rotorua which was right near the hostel to see a bit more of the geothermal activity. This was also really cool because we got to walk right up to the small geysers and vents bubbling and giving off steam. Plus, afterwards we went to a restaurant and got freak shakes, which were pretty amazing.
Today I tagged along with a few Americans I met at the hostel to go to Hobbiton and the Waitomo glow worm caves. First up in the day was Hobbiton, which as a lord of the rings fan I was super excited about. It did not disappoint. The farm where the set is has 44 hobbit holes that they made specifically for the movies. We learned that they had actually torn down the set after the LOTR movies and rebuilt them for the Hobbit movies, after which they decided to make them a permanent fixture. Not only did we get to walk around in hobbiton, but at the end of the tour we were able to go to the green dragon pub and had a free drink, even though it was only 10 in the morning. It was 5pm somewhere right?
After hobbiton it was on to Waitomo for the glow worm caves. The tour we did there was called the black labyrinth tour, which was a black water tubing tour in the glow worm caves. This was probably my favorite thing that I’ve done in New Zealand so far and maybe ever because it is so unlike anything I’ve ever done before. The tour involved a mix of climbing, wading and tubing to work your way through the cave. We also got to jump backwards off two waterfalls (they were pretty small) in the cave which was really cool. And of course one of the best parts was getting to do this while underneath the beautiful blue lights of the glow worms. Our tour guides informed us that the “glow worms” we’re actually maggots and the fluorescent light they give off is from their waste, which is a little gross, but was beautiful none the less. Most of the tour we had our headlamps on but there were a few sections where we all turned them off and just floated along the water in the dark under the light of the glow worms. At the very end of the tour we were given a free bagel and soup, which while strange, really hit the spot.
I’m currently on the bus back to Rotorua after this exciting day. I leave for Wellington tomorrow, but not before I get to check out some kiwi birds so keep an eye out for my next post about that and Wellington.