Rotorua and Surrounding Gases

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

So at this point I got a little lost and confused. We stuck around Rotorua for a few days and made the odd trip out to the Thermal Wonderlands, of which there are many. Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wairakei Thermal Valley being three big ones. It was quite easy to get them all mixed up, and they deserve a post all on their own so I will do a separate post about them very soon.

This part of NZ shows some signs of heavy marketing and Rotorua itself, boy oh boy, if there’s a hill, it has a zipwire on it, if there’s a forest, it has a canopy walk, if you’re into sheep, there’s the Agrodome, (pretty good actually, not sure who are better trained, the sheep or the sheepdogs).

I do however draw the line at the the National Road Board hopping on the bandwagon with the grandly named “Thermal Explorer Highway”, this evokes images of bursting geysers, lava flows, rugged 4by4 travel over steam swathed landscapes, but it is, at the end of the day, just a road. There’s nothing thermal about it, unless you turn the car heating up.

That said, they do have a lot to work with. Even Rotorua town itself, a view across the town will show rising steam from between the buildings.

Steam coming off of from the town.

I know this isn’t a great photo by the way but I’ve realised there is a difference between just posting photos that tell a story themselves, and photos that support a blog. I’m not 100% sure about the ‘photos that tell a story’ schtick anyway. Those arty photos about the lonely Afghan goat herd contemplating the changes to his life and the impact of increasing urbanisation, actually, No. He’s Not. He’s probably thinking about lunch. Or thinking ‘If This Guy Doesn’t Bugger Off Pretty Quick I’ll Set The Dog On Him’.

A casual stroll down to the placid lakeside will take you to Sulphur Point, where there are dire warnings about going off the path and where all the lake birds congregate in the bubbling water.

I am not a natural videographer (you needed telling, right?) but in case you haven’t clocked, part of the purpose of this website is for me to learn how to ‘do’ websites.

This particular video is quite a simple edit of two video files, but involved loading them into Corel Videostudio, applying an ‘anti shake’ feature, fades in between and at the end, and separating out the soundtrack and replacing it.

Replacing the soundtrack involved going onto the website to look for ‘sound files of wind howling’, finding a clip that had been posted on youtube (with permissions to use), saving it via EasyYoutube mp3 as an audio file. Which incidentally sounded eerily like the original windy noises that were on the tape. And patching that audio file into Corel Videostudio, and saving the lot in a file.

Then to get it onto your website, you have to upload the vid to Youtube, and put a link to the Youtube video - and then insert a tricky bit of code (?rel=0 …are you impressed?) to prevent Youtube then going onto make suggestions about what people can watch next at the end of your video. In my case that would be loads of camera gear reviews and videos of boats being sunk to make artificial reefs.

I really should get out more, shouldn’t I?

So - Rotorua. One place where you can be assured of getting a motel, as my partner blithely informed me, because they’re everywhere, so I let him choose. I had forgotten his criteria were a little different to mine.

I tend to go for places with crisp cotton sheets with a high thread count, a view of the Peninsula/Volcano/Desert. He tends to go for the thing that starts with "£$BARGAIN”, and ends there. Places, perhaps, where the customer is not so much ‘King’ as ‘King for an Hour’.

I know it’s just personal preference but my preference is somewhere where the glory hasn’t faded yet, where the lights don’t fizz when you switch them on, and where there aren’t discreet messages about what to do with your needles in the kitchen area. But that said, in this particular case, when we asked about a clothes airer and the last one was in use - the guy at the desk went out and bought us one. That doesn’t happen at the Hilton.

Has to be said, I did not feel particularly safe in Rotorua, lots of little things, a screaming row between another hotel resident and the kind guy with clothes airer, the extensive Rogues Gallery in the New World Supermarket of people who were banned from shopping there, and the number of times my partners said “Don’t look, keep going” all contributed to that.

I think the thing that really brought it home to me was when we’d just exited the Gondola Station at the bottom of Ngongotaha Mountain, all chrome, new glass, whizzy tourist attractions like a luge and some horrendously scary bike trails, and walking across the car park fiddling with my camera and hearing my partner say “That’s so sweet…”. I thought I’d done something whimsical but he was referring to the fact that I was so involved in whether my camera was in Programme Mode or Aperture Priority, I completely failed to see the two cars full of yoofs spinning around the same car park, screaming at each other and waving guns.

Guns. In New Zealand?

So Rotorua. Tons of things for families to do. But, Gangs, and Guns. I’ll move onto the Thermal Wonderland with the next post and we’ll be back to steam, rocks, landscapes with green ponds before you know it. You’ll see.