We started off this day by driving to Waiotapu, a thermal park half an hour from Rotorua. Rotorua is well known for its geothermal attractions, and Waiotapu is one such park.
We made it there in time to see the geyser erupt at 10:15AM. The geyser is manually stimulated to erupt every morning, and is a good way to start the visit to the geothermal park.
|Tourists waiting patiently for the geyser to erupt|
Waiotapu geothermal park has many hiking trails that go around the various attractions. We picked a 1 hour walking trail that goes through many boiling mud pools, steam vents, and colorful but toxic lakes.
|At the start of the trail…a steaming river|
|Colorful Champagne pool|
|Boardwalk around Champagne pool|
After spending 2 hours walking around the geothermal park, we drove an hour to Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, and people usually stay there for the many water activities. We only stopped there for lunch (a sandwich we got at Subway). Only after we got to Taupo did we realize that there are many restaurants there, overlooking the water.
|Eating our sandwich with a view of the lake|
Huka falls is around 15 minutes from the town of Lake Taupo. For those interested, there is a jet boat ride that you can take to the base of the falls as well. We only chose to do a small walk around the falls.
|Brilliant blue Huka Falls!|
After spending around 20 mins at Huka falls, we drove back to Rotorua. We had a reservation for a Maori village show near Rotorua (Tamaki Village), and the village picked us up at our hotel in the evening. The bus drove us to the Tamaki village that was around 30 minutes from Rotorua.
|At the entrance to the Tamaki Maori village|
Upon entering the village, we were greeting by some ‘Maori warriors’. The warriors performed a traditional dance, inviting us into their village.
The village itself was nicely laid out with different booths having different activities. All the visitors were separated into groups that followed different routes through the village. We spent 10-15 minutes at each of the huts in the villages, where the hosts explained different traditions, entertained us with games, songs and dances, and introduced us to the Maori way of life. Several exhibits were interactive, asking us to participate in games and dances, so it was a fun way to spend the evening.
The walking tour ended with a show of the Haka dance, the traditional dance of the Maori.
Finally, we were taken to the dining hall where there was a buffet awaiting us. We had requested a vegetarian meal, and so we were served two vegetable samosas as the main dish. We helped ourselves to the other veggie items in the buffet including different vegetables, mashed potatoes, gravy, salads, and dessert.
|Yummy meal at Tamaki Maori village|
That ended our long day near Rotorua. The next day we left Rotorua to the South Island.