But there are advantages to living in a geothermal area. One is that you can have free hot water. The city has been using the underground hot water sources since Maori times. The Maoris bathed and cooked their food in the hot water (at different temperatures of course). The Europeans followed suit, and opened a spa resort. No, health spas aren’t a modern invention – the Victorians were addicted to them. Rotorua has preserved its oldest, set in this mock Tudor mansion.
It is now a museum and not a spa resort, but inside you do get an idea of how grand it all was. People came from all over the world to experience its ‘cures’.
The treatments offered back in the day were pretty extreme. Swims, soaks and showers at various temperatures, hot towel wraps, massages, electricution and x-rays (to stimulate the blood), and literal mud baths in the dank basement!
Added to that a meagre diet, drinking disgusting mineral water, and taking a walk by the lake, and you’d be good as new (or so they say) whatever your ailment. Personally, I’d stick to a simply massage and spa.
Aside from geysers, there were plenty of geothermal attractions all over the place. In some places you really did need to watch where you were going lest you fall into a pool of hot, acidic mud.
The mineral rich pools came in all shades, no food colouring involved.
In other places, the landscape created by all of this turmoil was very pretty.
There were plenty of stories told by our various guides, particularly from the 19th Century when a local volcano, Mount Tarawera, erupted, destroying much of the area and killing many people. It could happen again, and soon. Despite this, Rotorua is one of the North Island’s bigger towns being a centre for forestry, energy and tourism. It goes to show that the locals must be hardy types.
Next we explored the geothermal wonderland that is Rotorua. Seeing a geyser come into life is a good introduction of what’s underneath the city. The Lady Knox Geyser erupts every day at 10.15am, with a bit of human intervention.
From then on it took a couple of minutes to bubble up.
And then burst into life.
Not a bad start to the tour. Certainly don’t see anything like this in Australia.