This page may contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
After a rather dull 7+ hour drive (New Zealand, as we’ve driven through so far is pretty much same as UK countryside – bit uninspring), we reached Rotorua which is kind of north of the middle of the North Island of New Zealand.
It’s slap bang in the middle of tons of geothermal styleee activity so is a tourism mecca and quite soon upon arrival we got our first whiff of sulphur. It’s a bit like when I worked in Slough and you’d get the smell of chocolate from the Mars factory, faintly on the wind, which I didn’t find very pleasant either, but this is the faint whiff of – well the only thing I can liken it to is stink bombs. Do kids still have them? But it’s really like that – not nice.
The hostel is interesting. We really like it – it’s kind of a bit tired, but painted brightly and has on murals on the walls and in the kitchens and in the hallway everyone can use marker pens to write/draw whatever they like.
If anyone remembers when we did similar in our bathroom, Mark has drawn one of those creepy men – he’s called Peter apparently!!
We also have our own little thermal bath in the backyard. It’s a yucky brown colour, but that is just the nature of them, it’s not dirty.
It is, however, pretty warm and you can’t stay in it for long, not that we’ve done much more than soaked our feet.
Our room was a bit of a shock. I had fallen for booking a ‘Twin’ room. Having done this in Fiji no problem, I hadn’t realied that in New Zealand this often means bunkbeds. Our room, Mark thinks, basically looks like a prison cell. Admittedly, it’s not the cosiest but luckily there’s loads of communal places to hang out. It’s actually not like the unsturdy, thin bunkbeds I remember from my youth, it’s remarkably stable and pretty wide and actually quite comfy. I opted for top bunk, which I’m rather regretting, not just because it can be a bit of a bind clambering down in the middle of the night, or in the morning when not feeling so fresh, but mostly because Mark finds it highly amusing to poke me from below, through the slats, or lean his hand around the back and pull my hair. Oh the hilarity. I find it so funny. Everytime. Really I do!
Upon wandering around Rotorua centre, our first afternoon, we weren’t overly impressed. Obviously you’re not here for the town, as such, but it was a bit on the cheap and tacky side, a bit like Blackpool or Niagra. Not awful, but just that special way that such places can be.
On the upside, cheap is what we needed. Drinks were a bit cheaper than we’d had in a while, so we celebrated, by, well, having too many. Big suprise, hey? Ending the night at Joe’s diner where Mark burgered it up and I had a cheese and tomato toasty – blinder.
The next day we decided to be a little more cultured and did a couple of hours walking around the town in the route suggested by the guy in our hostel. There is a big park in the town which had fenced off areas for the geothermal activity and it was amazing just walking around there. There were boggy bits, different coloured bits, bits that were literally boiling. All rather cool and, of course, smelly. We then wandered around down by the river. Considering it’s still summer season it was terribly quiet. Some jet boats, sea planes and helicopters knocking around without much action going on. We made our way over to the next geothermal area, behind the museum and came across the Blue Baths. This is a place that was built in the 30s for pleasure bathing and has a big ballroom that opens onto an outdoor pool. They’d recently done it up, after it had closed in the early 80s, but not too much ‘newness’ thankfully and it was kind of a bit crumbly but in a good way. The main pool was thermally heated, at 30 degrees, which was divine. It never went over 4’7 in depth, as it is meant for having fun more than swimming and then they had two smaller, dipping pools either side that were 40 degrees which is hotter than it sounds.
The whole time we were there they were playing 30s music which made it all the lovelier. The whole vibe of the place was just old skool, cheeky chic and I so just wanted to just drape myself over the edges of the pool, drink a martini and call everybody ‘darling’.