It’s steamy in here

7 Jan

Rotorua is the tourist capital of New Zealand.  Everyone goes there.  When you mention it, people say one of two things: it’s stinky, it’s heaps of fun.  It’s heaps of fun because you can zorb, bungy, jet boat, luge and do all manner of silly things in the name of entertainment.  It’s stinky because of the volcanic activity in the area.  When my ex-geologist husband learnt about the latter, of course he wanted to go.  I can take or leave this geology stuff, I really can’t get excited about why a hill is stripy, or how this cliff is different to that cliff, but I like to keep him happy, so agreed to go along for the ride.

I was a little surprised when I discovered that Rotorua is actually pretty amazing.  The whole town is on top of a volcano, in places the ground is only about half a metre thick.  And you don’t have to go anywhere special to experience it.  Evidence of the volcano is all around you.  Steam pours out of roadside gratings, bubbling mud pools blip blup mesmerisingly in people’s gardens, geysers spout metres of water in the air on an hourly basis and scalding hot tubs are a way of life.  People round here don’t have combi boilers.  They don’t really need them.

Teaching the children about volcanic activity has been a hands on experience, no text books necessary.  First came a demonstration in the kitchen with diagrams and a pan of boiling water and gravel.  Then we wandered around the corner to the playground to watch the resident bubbling mud, like a giant saucepan of chocolate custard, that’s been allowed to boil over.  We made a jam roly poly of sorts and cooked it in volcanic steam, renaming it lava pudding.  And we wandered down to the lake with a spade, dug a hole in the sand and cooked a fresh water oyster in the boiling water.  Sorry oyster, but your demise was in the noble cause of education.

It’s quite a strange experience walking on scalding ground, knowing that less than a metre under your feet is a cavern full of boiling water.  I have no idea why people choose to live in such a dangerous place but there is something magical about it.  The wisps of steam rising in the most unexpected places, the deep respect the local Maori have for their land and it’s toasty resources, and being able to lie in bed and listen to the boiling mud gently blip, blop, blip as you drift off to sleep.  It’s hard not to be enchanted.

 

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5 Responses to “It’s steamy in here”

  1. Jo Beaufoix 08/01/2011 at 7:48 pm #

    It does sound enchanting, though a little unnerving too. And what a brilliant way to learn about volcanoes. 😀

  2. Tim 08/01/2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Hi Stephen, Victoria, Eve, Edward & Dickon

    Many congratulations on such a fantastic blog, it’s a real pleasure reading it and watching the videos and photos.
    We returned from our RTW last June and are still talking about it on an almost daily basis, it has been an amazing experience for all of us, grown-ups & kids alike.
    It certainly looks like you’ve got the right idea about not rushing things and trying to cram in far too much.
    Tim suddenly remembered you were about to go off on your trip and I’m glad we’ve discovered your blog, we’ll be checking it out on a regular basis from now on.
    For now, we all wish you safe travels and good health for 2011!
    Kindest regards
    Kirsten, Tim, Hannah & Ellen Price
    (www.globalprices.worpress.com)

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 10/01/2011 at 4:26 am #

      Hi Global Prices!
      Lovely to hear from you. I spent our last year of planning reading your blog avidly, so it’s great that I can return the favour. We’re definitely trying to take things slowly, the weeks when we’ve done a lot have made us all tired and scratchy. Looking forward to keeping in touch.
      Best wishes
      Victoria

  3. Paula - Baby Reins 10/01/2011 at 3:31 pm #

    What an inspiring blog! It sounds like you’re having an amazing time, and such an education for the kids too. Four years ago we visited friends in NZ and came back with a baby bump, so it’s always been our intention to take our daughter back when she’s older. NZ is an amazing country for children to learn, with all the beautiful wildlife in it’s natural habitat. We loved Rotorua and found lots of natural spa therma pools in the great outdoors, such a unique experience. Hope you continue to enjoy your travels, I’ll be following your blog closely.

    Paula

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 11/01/2011 at 5:47 am #

      Thanks for your kind comments, glad you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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