"I wanna hang a map of the world at my house. Then I wanna stick pins in the locations that I`ve traveled to.
...But first I have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won`t fall down."
-Mitch Hedberg

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rotorua Smells Bad

Rotorua means “stinky egg smell everywhere” in Maori. Ok, it actually means “second lake,” but I’m sure they meant to call it “stinky egg smell everywhere.”

Care and I were pretty pumped to hit our first real tourist destination on the trip. We’ve managed to steer clear of organized excursions so far (see our Whangarei posts), so it was actually a treat to head to the i-site (information center) in town to book our traditional Maori hangi – a feast similar to a Hawaiian luau.

We chose Te Puia’s smaller hangi because it came with a Maori show, haka lessons, a feast (so good), and free access to the geyser field located on the marae (village) grounds. The welcoming ceremony was cool – a warrior came out and challenged us. The singing and dancing were pretty, and the weapons demonstrations by some of the guys was sweet...though it reminded me a little of the Star Wars Kid.
The best part though was the audience participation. Carolyn learned the poi dance, and I got instructions on the haka.

Care did awesome. The only part she had a hard time with was catching the poi. My haka however was a disaster. I couldn’t stop smiling. I would make the least intimidating Maori warrior ever. Watch both below and vote for your favorite awkward dancer.
After the show we got to eat the hangi – mostly pork and chicken steamed in a pit – along with delicious seafood and pavlova – a popular Kiwi dessert. Once we’d scarfed down our food, Care and I rushed out to catch the eruption of Pohutu, New Zealand’s largest geyser, which erupts hourly and sometimes as high as 30 meters.

The smell of sulfur was overpowering, but the range of bright colors from mineral deposits and the heat from the steam were really exciting to see firsthand. I’ve never been to Old Faithful, so this was my first encounter with geysers. Rotorua is covered with geothermal fields, bubbling mud pits, and geysers.

By the end of the few days we spent there we were pretty over the smell, but for the rest of my life rotten eggs will remind me of New Zealand. That's probably not the best travel endorsement, but it's true.

The hangi experience was well worth the NZ$90, and I whole-heartedly recommend it. Just don’t eat anything within ten hours of the show. There’s a lot of food at the hangi.

Seriously. It's like "trying to eat your money's worth at a $12 buffet" amounts of food. You always think you can do it, but inevitably stuff yourself with mac and cheese and never finish that third plate piled high with shrimp tails and some kind of pudding.
by Shawn Forno
Rotorua, the city of sulfur and unofficial capital of tourism in the North Island, is home to traditional Maori hangis (feasts), geyser tours, thermally heated basins like the Champagne pools, mud baths, sky diving, bungee jumping, zoos, animal parks, sled luges, 4WD quads...read more

There's a sweet photo album here, but it looks like you're using a device that doesn't support Flash.
No worries! Simply view the web album on Picasa.


  1. I want to see Forno do the Haka in the same dress as those aborigines!

    PS every time I check the blog you have a new post- I can't keep up! Glad you're having an awesome adventure!

  2. Hey guys! I was sorry to hear about the few bumps in the road but am happy you're OK and leading on with the most awesome adventure ever! Nice work on the blog...you'll look back and say "Wow, did we really do all of this?" and "Damn, our pictures are fantastic!" WOO! And don't worry -- you didn't miss much of March Madness as 'Cuse lost tragically...

  3. Don - i'm stoked we keep you on your toes! When we get settled with a job in the next month or so, we'll be posting on a regular Mon-Wed-Fri schedule, so you'll know when to check back. But until then, we're posting whenever and wherever we can since we never know where the next wifi will be!

    Chrissy - When I got online last week, I gasped "oh no!" and Shawn thought it had to do with my credit cards being stolen...but really I was checking the score of the Butler game. BOOOOOOOOO.
    Thanks for your compliments. Your Chicago blog was one of our inspirations!