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Semi-naked with Chinese tourists

Thermal springs, waterfalls and a lot of rain


To give you a glimpse of New Zealand Spring weather, when we left Hobbiton yesterday at one o-clock in the afternoon it started to rain. At one this afternoon, whilst in Rotorua visitor centre it was still raining. And not just any kind of rain. The kind that in the time it takes you to walk the fifteen metres from your campervan to the door of the info centre you are completely soaked through. Our campervan has since become a laundrette with homemade clotheslines tied across in the ceilings in an attempt to dry our clothes.

Back to our day, we’d spent the morning with the tourist information lady going over what there is to do in the Rotorua area. We loved the look of pretty much everywhere she was suggesting although annoyingly none of them gave an indication to price. Why we haven’t become immune to this yet who knows as it does seem to be pretty common practise thus far on our travels through Australasia. When we enquired as to how much they would set us back we were a little disappointed. There were around four different Maori villages and five different spas, all with a hefty price tag and we had no idea as to which were worthwhile. We decided to have a think about it as we made our way around the local park where there was a small thermal activity area.

We hadn’t expected much at all and so we were mightily surprised when we turned up and saw huge plumes of steam rising from the ground. There were many different geysers and vents for us to look at and as we made our way around we came across a small thermal pool. After dipping in our feet and seeing no-one around, as everyone was hiding from the rain, we ran back to the campervan, changed into our swimwear and headed back out to the pool.


Immersing ourselves into the steamy pools was pure bliss that even the background smell of sulphur could do nothing to dilute. It was made even more perfect by the location. Our sheltered little pool looked out over a picturesque lake complete with a cute wooden bridge and surrounded by resplendent blossoming trees. We were there for over an hour, undisturbed and peacefully watching the rain pour down just feet away.


Then things got awkward real quick. We’d had a few stray people wander past us but then suddenly a Chinese tourist spotted us and waved over the other twenty or so friends he had with him. Before we knew it we were surrounded by all these people removing their socks and shoes and sticking their feet in the water, still wearing rain macs and hats whilst we were left feeling slightly exposed clad as we were in only our bathers. Slightly too embarrassed to do anything we suffered about ten minutes of slowly getting hotter and hotter before they finally left! Before we could even breathe a sigh of relief and clamber out to ease the heat another busload of tourists came in and sat around us! Admitting defeat we headed back to the campervan and dried off.


After a brief walk along the lake front we headed off to our rest stop for the night; an actual campsite! Since all our clothes were wet we thought we’d take advantage of the portable heater in the van, so we parked up and are now spending an evening in luxurious warmth watching a film on our tv/dvd player that Jucy provided us with. It has even stopped raining. Win win all round.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Most leaflets in NZ don’t provide prices. Pop into the local tourist info centre and they’ll be able to fill you in.
  • Look around for free options. We managed to get a free thermal spa to ourselves (for an hour at least) with an amazing view. Had we gone to a proper spa this would’ve cost at least $25 each. Read Rach's tripadvisor review of the park here.
  • If you have wet clothes (and there’s nothing worse) it may be worth heading to a campsite to dry them out.

Posted by rexontheroad 22:09 Archived in New Zealand

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