viva rota-vegas!

Location: Rotorua
Baskets: Left: 2

compared to the south island of new zealand, the north island doesn't have quite as many spots of interest. not that i'm saying its not as nice. their just very different places.

the north island of new zealand is much more populated by people, and as of such it's got a much more civilized feel to it. there also aren't quite so many museums or natural place... well at least museums on ms. rhonwyn's list (there just aren't AS many natural places period!).

as of today's stop i was half through the north island locations i had to explore. that having been said i was going to find these stops were much more intensive than the ones i made on the south island...

today i hit rotorua. tourism capital of the north island (apart from maybe napier, but ms. rhonwyn didn't want me to stop there). the kiwi's affectionately call this place rota-vegas due to its tourist magnet nature... though i'm not seeing many casinos or bright lights...

if i was going to call this place something it'd have something to do with the maori... not only because of all the maori sculptures and art put here for visitors, but as it turns out this place historically was a KEY site for the maori throughout their entire history here in new zealand...

my first stop in rotorua was the visitor centre. i was going to need some info on the two stops in town ms. rhownyn wanted me to take the flax baskets i still had left.

i got my first clue as to rotorua's most special feature was, in the form of a pool of warm water outside the info centre. at the time i didn't make the connection as to what the feature was.

inside the info centre was some cool maori statues, like this one here. i wondered as i walked by if it was enchanted like the last such statue i'd encountered in a lobby like this...

the people at the info centre were very helpful, and gave me all i would need to hit my destinations... though like any good tourist information officer they also tried to convince to check out some of rotorua's other MANY attractions... of course due to the urgency of my mission, and the fact that whiro couldn't be that far behind me, i had to resist these temptations.

on my way out i spotted this wacky contraption. it was an aqua bus, and it'd take you on not only a road trip but also a water one too... one example of some of the varied and interesting things this town had to offer.

to get to my first stop i had to wander through rotorua's massive shopping district. half the town seems to be made of souvenir shops and galleries. in the window of the first shop i passed i spotted this creepy cyberaptor... i worried a little bit... this was not the first borgosaurus i'd seen!

i also saw this salmon statue. these would turn out to be a town wide thing...

after finally making it through the field of purchasing temptations i came to the rotorua botanic garden.

like all the others i'd encountered on this quest, i thought it be cool to see how my home would be different had i settled in rotorua (because of course people of the innerweb i live in dunedin's botanic garden).

i have to say of all the other gardens i've visited in new zealand, rotorua's is DEFINITELY the most different from dunedin's!!!

within a few meters i stumbled into a fenced off... i couldn't believe my eyes!... smoking crater!!!

had an asteroid landed in the park?... or worse an alien tripod machine that was going to burst out of the ground and start raining down destruction on us pathetic earthlings?!?... man it sucks sometimes having a brain the size of a peanut (okay it actually sucks most of the time to be fair!), my imagination often clouds my thinking abilities for a while...

it actually turned out to be a volcanic mudpool. the whole park was FULL of them!!!

rotorua is one of new zealand's most volcanically active locations, and the whole region is jampacked with geothermal phenomenon.

pools of mud and water warmed by the heat of the magma filled ground below them. kinda like a pot on an oven. sometimes these get so hot that the water "explodes" (it's actually steam pushing liquid water really hard) that geysers come from a few of these special pools. sadly i didn't bump into any geysers while i was in town, but i know they are there...

i'd see a lot more mudpools, and geothermal stuff at my second stop (my next post).

there were some cool birds in the park too, that i got nice and close to. this shag (or cormorant as there called elsewhere in the world) was swimming around catching fish. i'd never got anywhere NEAR this close to one before. they typically fly away when you get no where near them!

there was also a family of pretty black swans.

after quite a ways (their botanic garden is big eh) i finally made it to the museum end of the gardens.

you'll note more of the ever present maori artwork of rotorua here.

the gardens is surrounded by a very picturesque set of bowling pitches (lawn bowling that is for my northern innerwebers).

i wasn't sure whether to laugh or scratch my head when i saw a guy whose job is to flatten all the grass so its bowlable. he drove around on the funniest lawnmower/lawnflatter machine i'd ever seen...

so here i was at the first of my destinations in rotorua, the museum.

it was a very nice museum. however sadly i wasn't allowed to take any pictures inside...

also worth noting this was the FIRST museum in all of new zealand i'd encountered that required admission! not that i think it's bad for museums to ask for money to help run themselves. just after seeing SO many other museums in the country with free entrance, it was a bit of a surprise!

outside they had more of the salmon statues i'd seen in the shopping district. i was told they were an art fund raiser, and that many such other statues were all over town.

there were also more cool maori inspired statues in front.

this one both intrigued and frightened me a little. i wasn't get the tingle of magic like i had been when odd stuff was about to happen, but the face on this statue made me feel like it was somehow watching me...

there were tons of awesome displays inside the museum. many on the local maori, who were among the most important and influential of them all. there was also a lot about the local history.

it turns out that rotorua has ALWAYS been a big tourist attraction due to its volcanics. the maori who first settled here did so because of it. they fought many wars over this land due to it. the europeans were coming down here before new zealand was even formally a country!!!

in those early days of european visitation the big draw of big draws were the pink and white terraces. as you can see from this picture above (i stole off the innerweb from here) the pink terraces (and the unpictured in this post white terraces) were naturally formed stair like structures. they were huge. the larger white terraces covered 3 hectares and was 30 metres tall!

formed by stuff called calcium bicarbonate (sounds like a diet supplement!) hardening and crystallizing as it poured down from a volcano. this created tons and tons of water enclosed structures some as small as sinks some as big as a LARGE hottubes!

people would come down to new zealand back when world vacationing wasn't heard of to visit them. in fact they were the 8th wonder of the world (NOT king kong!!! stupid dirty ape!).

were you might ask?

well on a fateful day in 1886 the volcano these two phenomenons were attached to violently erupted, and blow the terraces as well as much of the surrounding area away.

there are stories of a ghost waka (maori war canoe) paddling along the lake just before, a mythical warning of the disaster. there was much talk of the local maori forgetting their ways, and the volcano being the gods punishing them for their greed and wealth from the visiting europeans. i wonder with my new annoying mystic sense, if i'd have notice any of this magic element of the event or if it was just a plain old geologic event?

anyways that was my favourite display of the museum, and i thought i'd share it with you people of the web wide world...

little did i realize outside the museum a modern mystic event was taking form...

across the well cared for bowling pitches the hum of a most unusual army filled the air. though i was unaware of it this swarm of insects was flying towards the museum, and it wasn't coming to check out the displays...

next: a new mythic confrontation will begin...


The Flying Trilobite said...

oooo, flying arthropods? Giant Devonian dragonflies?

Traumador, do you eat bugs that fly down your gullet?

Traumador said...

well they turned out to sadly (and yet VERY fortunently!) to be less spectacular than that.

as for eating bugs, as the prime predator of the cretaceous, i try not to damage my reputation even by accidentally swallowing a bug... if it does happen i proclaim quickly and loudly it committed suicide or challenged me to a duel (and lost of course).

i couldn't appear to eat anything as lowly and pathetic as a bug! heck their are ornithscians that did that!