We woke up to a lovely day and were hopeful we would be able to do the boat trip out to White Island (Whakaari). Here is New Zealand's most active volcano with three seperate volcanic cones of different ages. After a phone call to the tour company - they advised that there was no way a boat was going out today as it won't be able to land on the beach (there is no jetty on the island). So we said our goodbyes and headed for Rotorua which is only about an hours drive away. We are hopeful of heading back at the weekend for the boat trip so cross thumbs, fingers and toes the weather / sea conditions improve. There is another way of seeing this White Island - by helicopter - but unfortunately that is way out of our price range.
We found a lovely motel in Rotorua - well another motel owner found it for us - and they reduced their price to suit our budget. The lady convinced us to stay in Rotorua for two nights after finding out what our plans around the area were. It sounded like a great idea at the time not having to pack up and move on in the morning.
This afternoon we went out to Waimangu Volcanic Valley to do a walking tour. We got to wonder along the crater walkways for about 1.5 hours. This thermal area was created during the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. The stroll was an easy downhill and we passed an Inferno Crater Lack where water can reach temperatures of 80oC, then the 'Frying Pan' lake which is the largest hot springs in the world. Waimangu means 'Black Water' as the water is a dark muddy colour. It was an interesting and enjoyable walk - even Michael had to agree!
There was enough time left in the day to take in the Skyline Gondala trip to the top of the mountain and we finally had a go at the Luge. The Luge is a 3 wheeled type toboggan / go cart and there are three tracks to try out. We managed to get a ride in before they closed for the evening. It was great fun whizzing down the 2.5kms track. You then take a chairlift ride back up to the top for your return journey down the mountain on the gondala. Oh yes - forgot to mention - this is where the Luge was first started / designed ... right here in Rotorua.
Also, how could I forget to mention the smell in this town. As you approach Rotorua you can smell the sulphur in the air which smells just like rotten eggs. These smells are coming from the thermal valleys around here escaping from the springs, geysers and bubbling pools. Rotorua's knickname is "Sulphur City" ... should be "Smelly City". I guess living here - you just get used to it.