Saturday, January 19, 2008

New Zealand Road Trip - December 20, 2007 (17)

December 20


We spent the day in Rotorua. The day began with an overcast sky, but eventually the sun tried to make an appearance. Certainly an improvement from the previous day.

In addition to being the Maori cultural heartland (see Dec 19 post), Rotorua is also known for its geothermal features. If you've been to Yellowstone National Park, you will have an idea of what Rotorua is like (and smells like!). More on this in a bit. First, we started with the waterfront on Lake Rotorua.

There is a nice park and promenade along the lake front. The boats are strictly recreational in nature, or for tourist activities. There are also a number of float planes that are used for flying tours over the area. As with much of the rest of New Zealand, the landscape is defined by volcanic activity and Lake Rotorua is simply water that has accumulated in a volcanic crater (caldera). The hills in the area are old volcanoes. Given the geothermal activity of the area, I expect some of them are still active.

Black Swan.

Little Shag. This guy was very entertaining. It was swimming around and diving in the weeds. The water was only a few feet deep so we could see it grabbing some bugs or something and chowing down. It was very quick and would go 20 or 30 feet before popping up again.

New Zealand Scaup.

Black Swan with baby.

Lakeland Queen. This boat was built in 1986 and modelled after a Mississippi river boat. It will take you on dinner cruises.

We started up the hill from the lake to one of the city parks. The church is St. Faith's Anglican Church (built in 1910).

Panning to the left of the church.

In the park garden.

One of many geothermal mud pools found around the town.

This is the walkway up to the Rotorua Museum of Art and History.

The museum is housed in the historic Bath House building, located in the Government Gardens. Rotorua Museum opened in the South Wing of the Bath House in 1969 and Rotorua Art Gallery opened in the North wing in 1977. In 1988 the two operations combined to become Rotorua Museum of Art and History.


Detail of the entry fence. This is Maori design.

Gazebo in the "formal Government Garden" on the museum grounds.

There are also a number of croquet and bowling greens on the museum grounds.

From the top, this looks like several trees closely packed, but there is only one trunk at the bottom. They look like some kind of cedar tree.

Art in the museum grounds.

Getting closer - that's Craig.

Looking back from whence we came.

From the viewing platform on the top floor.

More geothermal activity.
Without too much exaggeration, it can be said that Rotorua is one of the geothermal wonders of the world. It is full of outrageously coloured pools and lakes and some really wild looking silicate and mineral formations. You can also see multi-hued lichen, moss and salt deposits. There are some exquisite rock structures and terraces that were formed by (and continue to be shaped by) centuries of volcanic activity. There are gurgling and hissing geysers, plopping mud pools, smoking craters (technically called "fumaroles") and hot springs. The whole place is charged with something of a primordial ambiance (if you can ignore the occasional sign of the tourism business) and features a range of natural phenomenon that challenge the auditory, visual and olfactory senses.

Croquet or bowling "green" in the foreground. I don't know much about either of these activities, but my guess is that this one is undergoing some maintenance. These greens are immaculate - they are tended like a golf green. Downtown Rotorua is in the background.

A volcanic hill.

This reminded me of Calgary sky when a Chinook arch is coming in.


Common Myna. Apparently these are not found on the South Island.

Rotorua is yet another interesting place and another on our "next time" list. We liked both the cultural and geological aspects of the place, but didn't have enough time to delve into either in a serious way.

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