Yes that’s right this title can describe only one place in New Zealand – Rotorua, or as the locals like to call it Roto-vegas, in a very ironic way of course. This is a town that smells of rotten eggs all day every day, but people come because everywhere you look there are plumes of steam coming out of the ground from the thermal mud pools and streams.
Many of the streams have been commercialised, I think there may even be one with a grandstand around it so you can watch it bubble and spit. Thankfully we had some inside knowledge from my brothers Kiwi girlfriend and headed 100m past the main car park at Waikite hot pools, parked on the side of the road and climbed down the bank to a little stream. This is no ordinary stream though, it’s as hot as your bath, quite a bizarre feeling when you expect it to be freezing cold. We took Matilda down with us and as you may have started to gather she loves water and was suitably thrilled to splash her feet in this stream. So glad we didn’t pay someone $40 for a similar experience.
Rotorua is also home to Rainbow springs which is a nature park who have a big Kiwi conservation project. That’s the birds and not the people. The place is very well done and didn’t feel too much like a zoo even though effectively that’s what it is. We had fish food but decided that actually the baby ducks were cuter so we gave them the food instead. Besides when the trout are this bigthey’re clearly getting enough food already.
After being in the country for over 2 weeks it was interesting to learn about some of the wildlife that we had been seeing. The behind the scenes Kiwi experience was well worth the extra money, we got to see how they incubate the eggs and then hatch them. Then we got to go into a dark enclosure where they had 3 Kiwi’s, there is no way we would see one in the wild and with such an iconic bird it would have been strange to leave the country without seeing one.
Rotorua was our last night in the camper van, a slightly bittersweet feeling. As much as we were looking forward to being in a ‘proper’ bedroom again and not having to go outside in the freezing cold to use the bathroom we had really enjoyed our time in the van. It was the perfect size for the 3 of us, it was surprisingly comfortable to sleep in and also was the place we had spent the last 2 weeks relaxing in with Matilda. We’d loved the evenings just chilling out once Matilda was asleep reading, surfing the internet, drinking wine and snuggled under the duvet to keep warm. We’d woken to some spectacular views, watched many miles of scenery pass by the window, laughed until we cried, made grand plans for the next few years and had some moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I feel like I have really got to know Matilda in these past few weeks, I know what her different cries mean, I can make her laugh out loud, I’ve had my eyes and face poked and watched as she learned to sit. I’ve taken hundreds of photo’s and lots of videos to record those moments and memories for ever. This has been the best holiday. EVER. Me and my girls, who could ask for more?