Today was our first day with the family that we were able to have a sleep in. We were down at breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and it is obvious that we are staying at the Holiday Inn and not something more exclusive due to the kids screaming and running around the buffet breakfast! I went for foods that kids won't normally go for because it seems like the best option that wasn't sneezed on or touched. After some research on our phones, we decided to drive the 25 minutes to the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Springs. These Springs were initially used in the 1800's as a way for the local people to cook and bathe and it was evident back then that there were some potential healing properties of the surrounding mud and mineral springs. On arrival it smelled terribly as does most of Rotorua when the wind picks up. We firstly saw Lady Knox Geyser because each day at 10:15 a.m. the geyser shoots up some water. I initially thought that this was a natural phenomenon but apparently if we were to wait for it to naturally occur, it would happen only every 2 to 3 days so the park ranger puts in some bars of soap (natural surfactant) and after a few minutes it starts to bubble up and spurt everywhere. We then entered the main park and walked the 3 km of trails to the different craters and lakes and it was interesting to learn about the colours that each mineral creates. Sulphur causes yellow staining, manganese causes purple staining, iron is an orange colour and bright orange is sulphur combined with silver and gold.
We spent quite a bit of time at the thermal springs so we went back to the hotel and had some lunch and a little bit of relaxation before we all went our separate ways and did our own thing for the afternoon. Jip and I decided to walk through the main streets of Rotorua and to check out the Rotorua Lake and the government gardens that are on the right side of the lake. Along the main road into the centre of town we noticed a lot of mountain bike stores as well as a lot of closed up stores they had graffiti all over it, there isn't much else!. We went into one souvenir store and we were explicitly told that whilst were walking around, have our bags zipped up and at the front of our bodies because of potential theft. We walked down to the lake and we sat on a park bench right before sunset and we witnessed a seaplane taking off and landing. We then walked through the government gardens to get to the far right side of the lake where there is “Sulphur Point” and I'll tell you what, you could definitely smell it before you could see it! We meandered our way through some of the other streets and I found it fascinating that you will find a natural blowhole of sulphur just in the middle of a park or in between shops!
We happened to stumble across the Rotorua market before we were to meet up for dinner and there were stores that sold a vast display of foods as well as home-made quilts soaps and had a choir sing traditional songs. We went to Cobb & Co for dinner and we all ordered steaks except me - I ordered the pork spare ribs that were delicious. Afterwards we went back to the market and Layla, Jip and I got the mini doughnuts and we ate some of them whilst walking around. They had a free interactive display on at the market that involved a blow up igloo that you went inside and it was a sound and light display and I found that quite interesting as it depicted Maori folk songs and the underlining meaning of remembrance and reflection.
After eating so much for dinner and then having a dessert, we made the 40 minute walk back to the hotel and as per our watches we had walked 23 thousand steps!! I think it's time for bed.