New Zealand Trip - Rotorua

There is a lot to see and do in Rotorua, so we spent a few days there to make sure we had plenty of time.  My favourite spot when we were there previously was the Champagne Pool at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, so that was the first place we saw this time.  We showed up right when the geyser erupts (it's forced at a scheduled time every morning) so that we could have the place to ourselves while everyone was watching that up the road.  We took a slow walk through the park, stopping at each of the amazing pits of steam, water, and mud to enjoy their uniquenesses.  It was a cold morning, so there was quite a thick layer of steam coming off of the hot water.  The sun came out as we walked along and it was so nice to warm up a bit on the way back.
Champagne Pool
Panorama of Champagne Pool covered in steam
Waterfall into stunning green lake with snow-covered volcanic mountains in the distance
It was so peaceful sitting and watching the steam
My parents in front of the Devil's Bath
Bubbling mud
 After thoroughly exploring that area, we rode the gondola up and went luging back down.  It was a lot of fun for us, and gave my parents a chance to relax and enjoy the view while we wore ourselves out.
Riding up the luge rail
The view up the mountain 
The view down the mountain onto Lake Rotorua
Luging down the hill
 The following day we drove to the North side of Lake Rotorua to see Okere Falls.  It was a crazy amount of water rushing down in all directions.  While we were watching a group went by shrieking on a raft.  It looked like a lot of fun, but also scary, and not exactly warm.  Something to do someday... but maybe somewhere warmer.
Okere Falls
Rafting down the rapids
Rope swing into some crazy water

 And now, for my favourite part of the trip.  Just down the road from Okere Falls is Hamurana Springs.  I had seen pictures but they didn't prepare me for just how stunning this place is.  We walked in a large loop around the springs, down one side of Hamurana Stream and back the other side through a grove of Redwood trees.  It was a flat, easy track, a nice quiet morning and a really peaceful walk.  The scenery just got better and better along the way.
such clear water
Soaking in the scenery
Hard to believe this place is real
Walking through the redwoods
if I were a duck this is where I'd live
That dark spot on the right is the spring, where fresh water is coming up from 15 meters below ground
This sand was covered in little tiny springs of water bubbling up 

I love the mixture of blues and greens
Back in Rotorua, and in between sampling at breweries, we walked through Kuirau Park.  It's a public park with grass, a big pool, play ground etc, but the unique thing about this park is there are steaming pits of water and mud all over the place.  It's a very fragrant park - like rotten eggs fragrant, but after awhile you get used to the smell.  

Just your average city park...
Between the thermal parks, the stunning springs, the waterfalls, and the adventure activities, there was so much to see and do in the area that we could have stayed for several more days.  But, for us it was time to move on down to Taupo.


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