It stinks of heights like someone cracked a rotten egg. Sulfur fumes flow from countless open ground vents. It’s bubbling everywhere. Boiling springs gush forth, mud pools bubble, geysers spew fountains. The area around Rotorua and the lake of the same name is a perennial volcanic favourite. Hellish land and with the Kiwis -as the inhabitants of New Zealand are called- and the guests a hot box. The standard show is at Te Puia/Whakarewarewa, on the southern outskirts of the city. Various geothermal phenomena are accessible here. With the Pohutu Geyser as the highlight. This shoots its source up to 30 meters into the sky. A little brother of the great master also emerges from the side: a sight that you can watch in peace from the wonderfully heated seat stones.
Ad unit content_1
A second local highlight: the Maori Cultural Center. Rotorua was and is a stronghold of the once powerful Arawa tribes, and nowhere else can visitors to New Zealand learn more about the culture and way of life of the indigenous people. At the Arts & Craft Center, for example, young Maori are taught the traditional art of woodcarving. You can see it too. Connoisseurs assure that the folkloric shows of the meeting house, a mixture of dances, songs and rituals, are the best and most professional in the country. And in the Ohinemutu district there is still a Maori community that still uses the hot spring water for washing, cooking and heating. The landscape around Lake Rotorua is New Zealand’s oldest and still most important tourist hub. As early as the 19th century, white visitors flocked to this eerie habitat, the highlight of which was a wonder of the world: the glowing pink and white sinter terraces of Lake Rotomahana. The eruption of the Tarawera volcano on June 10, 1886 destroyed this glory once and for all. At the same time, however, it created new attractions that boosted bathing and thermal tourism. Directly on the lake, the Governor Gardens were created, a green space laid out in the best British tradition, where flowers of all colors flourish. The visual highlight is the former luxury bathhouse, a mix of English Tudor and German half-timbering, which today houses the museum. You can wonderfully relax in the hot water next door – in the Polynesian baths fed by three hot springs. It’s very scary at night. Tattooed figures suddenly appear in the dark forest, their faces twisted into grimaces, their tongues sticking out as far as they can go. When that’s not enough to scare strangers to death, the men form a group and do a haka. This Maori war dance, feared around the world, is often part of the welcome ritual where it is intensively checked whether someone has come with hostile or peaceful intentions. If the latter is the case, the foreigner can be assured of unlimited hospitality. First, the Hongi kiss on the nose seals the new connection, followed by Hangi, a hearty Maori-style potato dish that is cooked in an earthen oven for four hours.
Flights from Frankfurt to Auckland, for example, with Lufthansa, www.lufthansa.com, or Singapore Airlines, www.singaporeair.com. Continue by bus to Rotorua, www.rotoruanz.com.
accommodation and organizer
Prince’s Gate Hotel is a historic boutique hotel, double rooms from €104, https://princesgate.co.nz. At the VR Rotorua Lake Resort you live sustainably, double rooms from 60 euros, https://vrhotels.co.nz. Kiwi Tours offers a 17-day round trip rental car, including ferry, from EUR840 plus flight, www.kiwitours.com. 25 days with rental car and overnight stays in B&B in Karawane Reisen from 2,469 euros plus flight, www.karawane.de.
Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Area home to the famous Champagne Pool, admission €20, www.waiotapu.co.nz Te Puia is a Maori geothermal area and cultural centre, admission €24, www.tepuia.com. There are walks and boat rides in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, admission €25, www.waimangu.co.nz Maori performances and more are available at Tamaki Heritage Experiences, from €66, www.tamakimaorivillage.co.nz.
It is by no means a matter of course that such encounters and Maori culture still exist today. Less than two generations ago, the culture of the indigenous people was practically on the verge of extinction, and hardly anyone spoke the richly illustrated and nuanced language of their ancestors, which until then had only been spoken orally. It is thanks to the tireless commitment of young Maori intellectuals and artists that the rich Maori cultural heritage is as alive today as it was in pre-colonial times. Today, the Maori language is not only respected as a means of expressing the special spiritual and spiritual ideas of the Maori, but is an official national language alongside English. Like the Maori welcome ceremony, Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland is a must-see for newcomers to New Zealand. Collapsed craters, hot and cold lakes, mud puddles, steaming fissures, mineral deposits that glow yellow, orange, green, purple, red, brown or white. Whether in “Devil’s Inkwells”, “Bridal Veil Falls” or “Inferno Crater”, in Wai-O-Tapu a completely surreal and colorful world awaits the visitor. Your king is the champagne pool. A delightfully bright, bottle-green circular cauldron, enveloped in dense plumes of steam and framed by orange sinters.
Ad unit content_2