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Is that the worst title I’ve done so far? Mm. Ah well, you can blame Mark for those suggestions.
Anyway, we had a second day of activity – believe it or not. Mark and I getting off our backsides – two days running.
We had an early start to go to the Wai-o-tapu thermal wonderland which basically was a huge space, half an hour south of Rotorua which had tons of stuff going on in a geo thermal kind of way. There were volcanic craters and various pools in various colours, doing various different kinds of bubbling and spurting and stuff. Am I selling it? Probably not, but it was amazing. The smell, however, was way, way stronger than the places we had experienced so far and a couple of times I was actually retching. The normal, holding your breath and not breathing through your nose thing didn’t always work so you’d kind of get a mouthful and could taste the smell. Difficult to describe, but was seriously nasty. The worst point was when we were walking back along past a vast area called the ‘Champagne Pool’ and the wind blew the huge amount of steam directly at us and it took a good 30 seconds to walk through. A fog of grossness. Yuk. Much as it’s all been fascinating, I am definitely ready to leave the smells behind. I usually have such a strong stomach, but these really get to me for some reason.
At 10.15 each day one of their geisers, the ‘Lady Knox’ (not named after Amanda, despite Marks distasteful suggestion) would go off, so everybody rushed down the road a bit to watch this happen. We’d heard rumours in town that this was given a little helping hand, but when the ‘show’ started they did fess up to this and they apparently add some organic matter of some kind to get it going at a set time, rather than wait for the sporadic 7 – 72 hours it would do on it’s own. It felt a little wrong and I wasn’t expecting an amphitheater type setup, but I’d never seen one before so thought would give it a go. Mark thought it was a bit lame, but I don’t know what he was expecting – something natural spurting water 20 foot in the air is pretty impressive, I think. Maybe we’ve all become a little spoilt by man made things, like the Bellagio in Vegas. If only nature could be so entertaining!
After the geiser (hence the title by the way, if you hadn’t guessed), we did some further trails around – some of them pretty steep to give some amazing views at some of the larger expanses. We were particularly thrilled when one cameras battery died and the other one ran out of space.Ah well, after my favourite, the green pool, nothing quite lived up to it anyway. I do like a bit of colour, but much of this thermal stuff is brown and grey – gets old quickly. I’m really rubbish with my attention span for this nature malarkey.
We then went to the do the Luge. This is something that was invented/designed by a guy in Rotorua and is kind of like the luge, in that the thing you are driving in slides down a sloped track, but you can steer it and you have breaks. You first had to get a ‘gondola’, which was basically a cable-car, up the mountain to a kind of mini amusement park, which had a restaurant and a few ride type things you could do including the luge. The view up there was pretty impressive, looking out over the huge lake Rotorua.
To start off our luging, we helmeted up, so you looked a total numpty and then started on the mandatory beginners ride on your luge.
It seemed good fun at first, you could control your speed to a degree and you were going through some nice scenery but it was a a bit trickier than it seemed as you had to hold the handles pretty tight and they kept slipping away from me and if they fell out of your hands completely you came to a stop. About half way down I came to such a stop and didn’t really know how to get going. I now know I could have just gotten out and shoved the thing, but there hadn’t really been much safety info before hand, other than showing you the brakes, so I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to. So, I just sat there for a while, trying to shake it into action, like a total muppet, as a few people whizzed by. I eventually got it going and got to almost the end, before it came to a stand still again, this time with a queue of kids behind me, most of which managed to siddle past, while in the distance Mark laughed at my being stranded and my grumpy face. I scrambled out, in the end, muttering to myself as we’d booked 5 luges each, at not a cheap price and I hadn’t enjoyed it one bit and was generally huffing and puffing. Where you ended the luge, you were half way down the mountain and the only way of getting out was back up on a chair lift. My mood wasn’t improved when I didn’t hit ours in time, not having been on one before, trying to jump on as it took off with Mark, was not very successful. So, on my lonely ascent back up the mountain (ok, not that lonely, Mark was within shouting distance), I calmed down a bit and enjoyed the scenery and figured I’d give it another go and then give the rest of my luges to some kids as they seemed to all be having a ball.
So, second go, we decided to go on the intermediate run, and amazingly, this time, I had a ball. I had a slightly different luge car (or whatever they might be called). I won’t bore you with details, or blame my bad run on the car, although, this, I did believed, was paramount to my initial rubbishness. The intermedidate run was faster and with more hear raising corners, and as Mark put it, he didn’t have time to go to the toilet and have a cup of tea, whilst waiting for me to get down this time (for the record there was no toilet or tea facilities down there – pah!).
We did all our 5 luges, the last two on the advanced runs and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I got much quicker and generally less embarrassing each time. It was a bit pricey for each luge, so we decided to call it a day, which involved the stair lift half way back up the mountain and then the gondola all the way down.