Eggs…rain…eggs…rain; these are the sights and smells I encountered upon first arrival in Rotorua. Hmmmm. Perhaps not quite the introduction to the town I had imagined but it seems like a lovely place and I’m looking forward to getting to know it better.
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Waking up at 8:30am to the sound of Codie’s alarm, I forced myself out of the bed and began to pack up the rest of my things ready to leave. It’d been lovely having a private room to ourselves for the last couple of nights and so preparing to leave wasn’t much fun at all but we were off to explore somewhere new and I was really looking forward to that. After I’d quickly shoved everything away and had a quick scan of the room to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind before we grabbed our bags and headed out the door. At this point it was still only about 9am and with a little bit of time to spare, we attempted to use the free wifi again downstairs to check for any messages and to let people know what we were up to. Of course with us only having 50mb, it didn’t really last long at all and it wasn’t long until we left The Horse and Jockey and wandered back to the tourist information centre to wait for the bus.
Optimistically thinking that it may be early, we perched on a bench and watched as the clouds rolled over and darkened the sky. I hoped that it would come soon as it really did look as though it could pour down at any time. If it was to come on time we had about 40 minutes to wait but so far they’d been really good and we hoped it wouldn’t be that long. Oh dear. We couldn’t have been more wrong. 9:45am came and wait, as did 10:00am and even 10:10am. Grrrrr! So much for it coming early! Eventually it turned up at 10:20 and feeling quite cross, we threw everything on board and headed off to find seats. It worried me that it came so late because on our way back up from the South Island we’re going to need to be on time to ensure that we don’t miss our ferry. It worried me even more when the bus driver then said we had another 5 minutes at that stop for everyone to stretch their legs! It doesn’t bode well that they don’t seem to be that bothered about time keeping and for the remainder of the journey I found myself quite on edge about it. It would be a right pain if we were to miss it but I suppose there’s not much I can do about it for the time being so I’ll just have to keep my fingers tightly crossed that it all works out.
The bus journey passed fairly quickly and I think credit should go to all the beautiful scenery we were passing through for that. It really was stunning and it felt a lot like Scotland. Other than some rather annoying passengers sat behind us who liked informing each other how many drugs they’d taken, it was rather pleasant and I made sure to memorise as much of the landscape as I could. It was definitely worth remembering. A little while later, as we passed a beautiful blue lake with a rocky island perched in the middle and little boats flecking the surface, I realised that we had almost arrived at our destination. There was a faint smell of sulphur wafting through the air-con and in a strange way it made me quite excited. I think it’s because we were almost there and were almost able to discover and explore a new place and not because I like the smell of burning eggs! The eggy smell comes from the volcanic activity in the area, all the sulphur, and a felt butterflies fluttering around in my stomach. I love a good geographically interesting place and Rotorua seemed ideal with it’s steaming pavements, geysers and hot pools. It sounded brilliant and I couldn’t wait to explore.
We drove through the town and passed the backpackers we would be staying in before, very handily, stopping just next door outside the tourist information centre. I’m really not a lazy person but it was very nice to know that we didn’t have far to walk and could get exploring sooner rather than later. A quick cross of the road and a short walk through the entrance and we’d arrived at Rotorua Downtown Backpackers. My first impressions were very good as we were greeted by a friendly woman who offered us jelly babies and then took us to our room. It’s always nice to get free things, even if it was only a single sweet and it was a very good start to our stay. She also told us that tomorrow night there’s a free BBQ, not just a sausage sizzle, for all guests so that means even more free food; hooray! I have to say, though, there didn’t seem to be much of an atmosphere as we walked through the common area and the kitchen and it felt a lot like we were walking into one of those creepy village pubs where you’re a stranger and everybody else knows each other. Very, very awkward. I don’t know how much time we’re going to be spending down there…..
After we’d settled in and carefully locked our valuables away in the lockers, it was time for us to to go for a wander around Rotorua and find a shop to get something tasty to eat. Codie had snaffled a piece of dry bread and some vanilla wafers for his breakfast whereas I hadn’t had anything so was quite, nope, absolutely starving at that point and was in desperate need of some food-based energy. As we walked along, every now and again we’d be hit by a pocket of sulphur which caught me off guard with it’s burnt omelette smell though it really wasn’t as bad as I’d been told by numerous people. So many times I’d heard that it would take days to get used to it or that you have to really concentrate on not smelling it but so far it’s been absolutely fine and in an odd way I’m quite disappointed. I really wanted it to be more of a challenge I suppose but it really has been totally fine up to now. I don’t know whether that’s because I’ve been to a volcano, Nissyros, in Kos before and that had a really tremendously powerful smell!
Eventually we found a Pak N’ Save and ventured inside hoping that we really would pack and save. It was a great shop and as soon as we walked in we found a big box of sweetcorn which cost barely anything and still had all the fun of unwrapping. It was great fun! Now I would never have thought that getting leaves of vegetables could be fun but it was the first time I’d done it and hilarious to see other people walk over and do it in half the time. Oh dear. We carried on wandering around, picking up various cheap and tasty snacks including a lovely warm chicken for yummy lunchtime sandwiches and then wandered back out into the cool air. It definitely wasn’t as sunny as I thought it would be but it was pleasant enough and quite nice after all the heat of Australia.
Back at the hostel and I made us our warm chicken sandwiches to munch on whilst we worked out what to do next and Codie made us some flat hash brown things he’d found in the free fridge section. The rain was proving to be a bit of a pain as we couldn’t just walk around looking for things like I had initially planned so for a while we were stuck inside until it calmed down. I really hated having to wait and found myself getting all nervous and impatient , desperate to explore the pretty little town so we ended up going for a walk to see what we could find to do in the tourist information centre. Something quite inexpensive and still fun, I hoped for. Nope. That wasn’t possible at all. Either there were no prices on any of the leaflets or it was all way out of our price range so feeling a bit disheartened, we left. Hmmmm. It was going to be a lot harder to find things to do than we thought it would be…..
After sitting in our room for a while, charging our phones and watching the rain thundering down on the path outside, we decided to brave it and go and investigate the night markets down the road. We’d found a leaflet in the i-Site centre and thought that it may be an interesting way to sample to culture of this part of the world. After all, Cairns night markets had been incredibly fun and interesting so surely these would be too! We’d managed to go at the perfect time as the rain had temporarily stopped but sadly the markets were a bit disappointing. There were only a few stalls, most of the food based and all quite expensive so we ended up leaving after about 5 minutes. I’m sure if you’re absolutely starving and looking for something nice to eat, they would be ideal but since we’d already bought our tea, we couldn’t justify spending any more. To be honest, it was a good job we left when we did as the moment we set foot in the hostel, the heavens opened once again and it bucketed it down. Good old weather!
The rest of the evening was spent booking tickets on bookme.com to the Living Maori Village a few kilometres down the road and munching a delicious meal of pasta and sweetcorn. Yum. We had wanted to visit the Wai-Te-Po thermal village to see the ginormous geyser, Lady Knox, but the cost of getting there seemed a bit too pricy and we decided to stick to what was in Rotorua instead. It would have been nice to see but never mind, I was sure we’d have fun anyway. Besides, it’s such a nice little town, it seemed a shame to leave it and not have a proper look around. I think I’d kick myself if we left without properly appreciating where we’d been.
I’ve now returned from what turned out to be a really horrible shower and I’m snuggled up under the duvet munching some tasty cadburys chocolate. Yum. After having to stand in ice cold water, I don’t think I will take hot water for granted ever again! It’s amazing how different Australia and New Zealand are temperature wise and I’m struggling a bit with how cold it’s got all of a sudden though I think it’s probably good preparation for going back to the UK in 5 weeks or so. It’s pouring with rain again at the moment and it’s lovely to hear all the little rain drops bouncing off the roof. It reminds me a lot of being in Scotland in the caravan and it’s actually making me feel really sleepy. It’s also made me realise how much I love being cosy and warm in my pyjamas. It’s one of my favourite ever things and it’s been quite difficult to achieve it in Australia with all the humidity. Unfortunately there’s a guy in the bed right next to ours who has decided his bedtime routine consists of picking his nose and eating it so I’m really having to concentrate on avoiding him completely. It’s not the nicest thing to see and especially when he’s so open about it! Anyway, it’s time for me to get ready for bed now and get ready for tomorrow. We’re off to the Living Maori Village morning so that should be good and then hopefully we’ll pay a quick visit to the Koari volcanic park in the centre of the town. It’s bound to be a long day but it’ll definitely be worth it to see the geothermal things Rotorua has to offer and I cannot wait. It really does seem like a lovely place and despite the rain, today has been nice. I love getting to explore new places and though we’ve had some trouble finding things to do we can afford, we’re bound to make the best of the rest and enjoy every second.