I breathe in and the sulfur hits me in the face like a sledgehammer. I turn around nauseated, trying to find out where that smell comes from and why it is there, in the middle of the city. I’ve arrived in Rotorua 2 days ago and I’m still not used to the smells that come from the volcanic activities surrounding the city.
Rotorua is the 10th biggest city in New Zealand and it is on my way between the Tongariro Crossing and Coromandel, my next stop which is why I decided to spend a couple of days here. It is famous for its “geothermal activities”, which means that the whole city smells like rotten eggs and that you can take mud baths in natural mud pools and that there are geysers and volcanic craters. Rotorua is definitely not the most photogenic city, but for me it’s interesting as I’ve never seen that much geothermal stuff in my life. Basically everywhere you look, you can see steam coming out of the ground and hot water and sulfur is everywhere, it’s just amazing how much the earth is alive here! It feels like a mystical place which also explains the strong Maori influence in this town.
I’ve been in New Zealand for almost a year now, but I haven’t seen that much of the Maori culture yet – it is definitely present in Rotorua! I’m not talking about the commercial Tamaki Maori Village, as I don’t particularly like these touristy attractions where you see a show for 3 hours – I just strolled around the town and there is so much Maori art it’s incredible! It’s basically everywhere and it looks really pretty! I might be biased as I’m a huge fan of Polynesian cultures in general, but looking at Maori art just makes me happy 🙂
All the sulfur and the sun left their impact on me and I’m tired, but happy that I’m writing these lines from the hostel common room after a yummy lunch and after I washed my face and hands. I long for one of these spa treatments with mud baths and massages that my hostel offered to book for me, but for today old fashioned soap and water have to suffice.
- Lesson: Never walk around Rotorua on an empty stomach as that will make the nausea worse. As an emergency solution, ice cream helps 🙂
- Lesson: The sulfur mysteriously sticks to your skin when you walk through volcanic areas for too long. That feels really weird!
- Lesson: Apply sunblock. Always.
Happy minimalist travels!