The Rotoruans live in the middle of eight large eruptive centers that make up the Taupo volcanic belt. Our hotel, for instance, is located about 300 ft from New Zealand’s largest geyser, Pohutu Geyser.
Neighborhoods are built around, amongst, and on steam vents, hot rocks, and bubbling pools. One downside is metal on cars, particularly chrome, turns dark from the sulfur in the air, and a peculiar aroma hangs over all of Rotorua, even downtown. The ground beneath is also cavernous due to dissolution by hot waters, so that nearby logging trucks literally shake our hotel as they go by. Evidently we had a small earthquake last night, but we can’t tell an earthquake from a truck.
Yesterday, it rained hard most of the day so we did the tourist thing at the Agrodome, a farm that caters to city folk. We saw 20 kinds of New Zealand sheep, watched wool being shorn, carded, and spun, and saw the dogs chase the sheep around—often, but not always, at the command of the master.
Since so many tourists come here, there also is an area for thrill rides where really tall machines lift you really high, and let you fall. In this way you can be terrified and claim it is fun. They call this bungee jumping and swooping, depending on the torture. It was fun to watch, that’s for sure, but we remarked often how much smarter the spectators were than the participants.
You may enjoy some cows. New Zealand has lots of them, some with very sad and beautiful eyes. Those are the Brown Swiss. Here are a few. Someone out there must know the name of the black ones with the white stripe.
Today we strolled through a California Redwood grove, drove and hiked through areas of ash flow tuff and pumice from Lake Tarawere, and circumnavigated the Rotorua caldera.
Good rocks, great day. Tomorrow we will attempt to visit White Island, an active volcano offshore.
P.S. from Jan: While at the Agrodome, we discovered we were the only Americans attending our edition of the sheep show, something that was totally unexpected – it feels unusual to be unique in that regard.
On our way back to Rotorua from the farm, we discovered a rock shop [Geologists have noses for these shops, but here in NZ you need to be on your toes or you’ll stroll in to a store with every rock musician’s dream instrument displayed …. : ) ]; the proprietor and Gerry had a loonnnngg chat. Passion for rocks simply cannot be contained, it seems, and is more than doubled when shared. It shouldn’t surprise you that we went back to the rock shop again today.
We decided to end our rainy Tuesday with dinner and movie – lucky for us, Tuesday is bargain night, so our tickets only cost $11.50 instead of the usual $15. We enjoyed viewing “Morning Glory”, the Harrison Ford-Diane Keaton rom-com – it was a nice way to spend the evening.