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Rotorua is New Zealand's Geothermal Wonderland.  It is located on Lake Rotorua, 140 miles south of Auckland and is in the Bay of Plenty  region othe North Island.  The area is known for its thermal activities, geyers and hot mud pools.  The thermal activity comes from the Rotura Caldera and is a fascination city to visit.  Rotorua is also the most Maori place in New Zealand and it is here you can experience Maori dancing and their hangi dinner.   

Photo by Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Frying Pan Lake, formed during the 1886 eruption of Mt. Tarawera.  It is the world's largest hot spring with surface temperatures of  131 degrees F.

Taking the temperature of one of the hot pools - 78 degrees celsius is over 172 degrees fahrenheit!

Photo by Chris McLennan

It was a scene out of the Twilight Zone when our group walked through the sulphurous steam in the Waimangu Valley in July, 2009!

The Rotorua geothermal field contains around 1200 geothermal features, including geysers, hot springs, mud pools & fumaroles.

Different minerals cause the hot pools to have different colors, which are far more intense than the camera was able to capture.

Rotorua was initially settled by Maori of the Te Arawa iwi, or clan.  In the 19th century Europeans began to trade in the area & saw the hot springs as an opportunity to draw the wealthy from the "baths" of Europe, which were popular at the time.  The magnificent bath house (right)  as well as the post office (left) were built in Elizabethan style  to make the visitors feel more at home.  The bath house is now the Rotorua museum & a wonderful place to learn the history of Rotorua & the Maori culture.

Te Puia is the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute, home of the national schools of carving & weaving and the scene of Maori cultural experiences - storytelling, entertainment & Maori kai (indigenous food).  The main entrance to Te Puia is called Te Heketanga ā Rangi (heavenly origins).  Twelve monumental contemporary carvings reach skywards, each representing a  celestial guardian in Te Arawa culture.  There are knowledgeable guides to accompany you through the Whakarewarewa thermal valley and to the Kiwi House, where you will meet Kenny & Colorado, Te Puia's resident Kiwi birds.  And Your Travel Source can book all of this for you!

Photo by James Heremaia

Photo by James Heremaia

Entrance to Te Puia              

Photo by Destination Rotorua

Photo by Ian Trafford

 Whangara, the home of a Maori tribe known as Ngati Kanohi, whose earliest ancestor arrived on the back of a whale.  The movie "Whale Rider" was filmed here.

Children learn "Kapa Haka" (Maori performance art) at an early age and regional & national competitions inspire extremely high standards, even at the junior level.

Photo by James Heremaia

Photo by James Heremaia

Above - The traditional "moko" ( tattoos) tell  the wearer's social standing and family history, among other things.  Right - Traditional moko inspire today's tattoo artists.

The Haka (above) is the traditional "posture" dance of the Maori & is also done by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team before every match.

Photo by James Heremaia

Photo by James Heremaia

Four generations on their "marae" - their generational home.

Photo by Tim Whittaker

Photos courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

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