Day 9 - Our last day exploring Rotorua

With tomorrow predominately being a transit day, today was the last day for sightseeing adventures, so we made the most of it! After breakfast, we took a stroll down to Lake Rotorua and met up with the guys from Katoa Jet Boats who suited us up in highly fashionable red life jackets. They then directed us to our seats, and once we were all secured we were off. We zigged and zagged across the still lake, making our way to Mokoia Island, once a strong hold for the Maori, but now an established wildlife reserve. At the shoreline, Will, the driver told us about the battles that were fought here, but also of a touching love story between the daughter of a chief and a warrior from an opposing tribe. The chief's daughter, Hinemoa, defied the wishes of her family and swam across the lake to Mokoia Island in the dead of the night, guided only by the sound of the flute being played by Tutanekai, who was waiting for her on the shores. The two went on to have 13 children, and one of their decedents currently owns the island.

With the history lessons over, it was time to make the most of the open space on the lake.  Will tried some 360s and fish tailed the boat as we zoomed along. These moves of course led to a spray of water hitting those lucky enough to be sitting along the edges. This was their second shower of the day. Being Australian, it was also fitting that he engaged "kangaroo mode" which saw the boat bouncing its way across the surface. All in all, a great experience, and we were lucky that the sun was out so that those that were a little damp could dry off on our way to the next activity.

From the lake, we made our way to Kuirau Park. Here we were able to see, and smell, the geothermic activity of Rotorua up close. The park contains a number of heated pools that bubble away. We were warned not to go beyond any fences as the water can get up to 100 degrees in some pools. As a result of this heat, waves of steam rise from the surface, creating quite a dramatic and eerie effect.

Not yet done with nature, it was off to the Blue and Green Lakes for a scenic walk. These two lakes, situated beside one another, appear to be of different colours based on the different sediment that forms the lake bed. This was quite interesting considering how close they were to one another. The Green Lake is owned by the Maori and closed to the public. The Blue Lake however is very much open to the public and used for a range of activities. We took a walk along a track that took us half way around the Blue Lake to a small beach. Here there were small children swimming, people canoeing and a group attempting to water ski behind a jet ski. Still wearing their tour hoodies, none of the girls could have imagine getting in the water, even though it was such a lovely and sunny day!

Our final sightseeing activity was a visit to the Hell's Gates Mud Baths. We were greeted with strong sulphurous odours and everyone was quite unsure as to what to expect. After changing it was straight into the first pool, a mud bath. It was a rather odd sensation at first, sitting in the hot water, feeling the soft and oozy mud under our feet, but it didn't take long for the girls to start lathering themselves in a thick grey paste; Head to toe they were covered. When the mud had dried, it was time to rinse off and test our circulation moving between the cold plunge pool and the near by hot sulphur spa. Once again the competitive nature of some of the girls was drawn out with impromptu competitions testing how long they could stay in the cold pool for. Some were more determined than others who retreated quickly to the warmth of the sulfur spas.


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