This is Part II in a series of guest posts by Frank Gourley. Go along for the ride as Frank heads to Rotorua!
ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND
For the Smell of it! Travelogue and photos by Frank Gourley
The flight to Rotorua (‘Rotor-roota’) was to the southeast and we flew over clouds most of the way, but through breaks in the clouds you could see lots of greenery and rolling hills, with few houses. As we neared Rotorua we saw several lakes. We ‘sashayed’ a bit on the descent, but landed without a hitch.
Buildings were only one or two stories high in town. This is probably because of the volcanic nature of the region.
Right beside the motel there was steam coming out of the ground at several places – one right beside the heated pool/hot-tub area. A couple of miles away there is a geyser.
We drove to the Government Museum and Gardens. The museum was a large, ornately- designed (Tudor-like) complex that showed a Maori influence, and had Maori artifacts inside.
The museum was originally built by the government as a hotel and spa, probably for the wealthy to enjoy. Nearby was a Teanu (long boat), next to Lake Rotorua, that was about 50’ long, was made out of one tree, and could hold an entire war party of about 25. It was quite ornate and, fortunately, was under a shelter.
There were lots of black swans on the lake with their young, as well as black ducks and seagulls. We had packed a lunch, so we went a short way on around the lake to a patio area with seating overlooking the water and had lunch.
We continued around the lake after lunch and found what was likely a Maori settlement at the edge of town. At the end of the road through the settlement, and adjacent to the lake, was a compound with several structures, including a church, meeting house, classrooms, and restrooms for ‘naane’ and ‘waahine’. The homes in the settlement were meager, basic, and small. Steam was coming out of the ground in a number of places, and in one front yard was a fair-sized thermal vent. There were several thermal vents on the compound as well. A gazebo-type structure was built over one of these.
There were several ‘bachs’ in this settlement. These “bachelor accommodations” looked like they were cobbled together with scrap materials and discarded pieces of old shacks. This is, apparently, New Zealand’s answer to a second home at the beach.
From there we headed out of town, to Lake Tarewera. This was an area where there had been a major volcanic eruption in 1886. It expelled so much debris that it covered three Maori villages at least 5 miles away and killed over 100 people in the villages. On the way we passed Blue (Takitapu) Lake, with blue water, where they were having a triathlon. There were lots of signs posted and swimmers in wet suits in the lake. Next we passed Green Lake, with green water. We next stopped at The Buried Village and learned a bit about the volcano of 1886. From there we drove on until we arrived at Lake Tarawera. That was an “Oh, wow!” experience! There were very few houses along the road to Lake Tarawera, but as we descended the mountain and approached the lake we began to see lots of houses that people have built to await the next volcanic eruption across the lake. We drove around and saw more beautiful scenery and black swans, with babies, on the lake.
Stay Tuned for More Rotorua Adventures in Part III….coming soon
Frank Gourley retired in 2006 as an administrator of engineering technology education programs at the university level, and now pursues his interests in Travel, Photography, Architecture, Woodworking, Music, Singing, Guitar, Watercolor, Art, Crafts, Gardening, Railroading, Beaching, Boats, Canoeing, Outdoors & Wildlife, Construction, Alternative Health, Yoga, Maps, Cooking, Oriental Landscaping, Chronicling, and Genealogy, in addition to enjoying activities with family and friends. He and Genene, his wife, live in Charleston, WV.