All I had ever heard about Rotorua before was that it was smelly.
Smelly is right.
The sulphurous vapour rises up your nostirils with each street corner you turn. Your nose slightly twitches upward in distaste before you pause to ponder the familiarity of the stench.
Rotten egg or…ten years being married to Craig, lol.
Poor Savannah was getting blamed a lot of the time for having a stinky nappy, only for me to go and change it and find it clean and then remembered it was just the distinctive perfume of the town.
The sulphorus smell from the rising steam soon moves in and out and molds itself into your perception of normality.
But really the smell?
How could it be that the smell is all I’ve ever known about Rotorua?
Why is it that that is all anyone has ever told me?
This evening I sat in a scolding (the non-burning kind) pool of geothermal therapy, gazing through the weeds over Lake Rotorua as steam wafted up over the horizon.
The only sound was of the birds happily circling over head and diving into the water, my daughter splashing quietly beside me, and my breath steady and calm.
I could sit there all day.
My body softened and melted into the warmth.
Love for this beautiful city in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand overwhelmed me.
We had just spent the day exploring only a fraction of what this smelly town had to offer with redwood forests, buried villages and aqua duck rides through the town and on the lakes.
The stories of the town that once befell tragedy, destroyed by a large eruption of a nearby volcano, Mount Tarawera, in June 1886, was slowly rebuilt with strength, resilience and pride.
Rotorua was the birthplace of tourism in New Zealand. It is the place the visitors would trek to to visit the famous pink and white salt terraces, that were recognized as a wonder of the world.
One fateful night, after dire warnings from the Tohunga, or Maori Priest, and the mysterious sighting of a terrible omen, a waka filled with warriors with the head of a dog that soon disappeared, the volcano erupted spewing forth rock, lava, and mud over the lake and nearby small towns.
153 people were killed during that eruption and the magnificent pink and white terraces were destroyed.
Over time the villages began to grow again into what is now known as one of the best cities in New Zealand.
I kind of laughed when I arrived into Rotorua and heard they were calling it a city, more like a big country town. That is what it reminded me of back home with its wide streets, and surrounding lush hills and lakes.
Except in Australia there wouldn’t be much lushness, a clear indication of a high rainfall.
And that it did for our whole three night stay in Rotorua. That did not deter us from thoroughly enjoying this city and learning so much about the history and stories behind it.
Three days which turned Rotorua from that “evil smelling place,” to instead bringing to life a place that is like no other and one I will forever remember as one of those rare places that left and indelible mark.
A place that has me lamenting my departure and longing for a return to explore more.
I haven’t even scratched the volcanic surface.
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Have you ever been to Rotorua?
Share your tips in the commets.