International visitors often head straight for Rotorua, but if you asked the average New Zealander what they know about the place, they'd probably think for a bit, then shrug their shoulders and say, "it smells?"
Ahh… that's the 'distinctive sulphur scent' you'd be referring to. Don't worry, it seems much worse when you're a kid. Now we're all grown up, it mainly just serves to remind you what a cool, unique place Rotorua is. The smell is a clue to the violent geothermal activity occurring below the ground - the same activity that smashed the place up millions of years ago and created 16 lakes, numerous mud pools and geysers and, probably about five minutes later, a bunch of luxury health and beauty spas.
Rotorua's achieved something a lot of destinations can only dream about - they've created a hundred ways to experience the natural wonders around them, without impacting significantly on the environment. So you can zoom through the forest on a huge network of mountain biking trails, visit the beautifully lit Rainbow Springs at night, or watch the world go by from inside the Zorb - a cross between a bouncy castle and a tumble dryer. 'Kaituna' is the world's highest rafted waterfall - the seven metre drop is so huge, you'll have time to call home on the way down and say goodbye to the people you love.
Those 16 lakes really are something special, and each has it's own reason to visit. We're told you can catch a trout at Lake Tarawera, then cook it for tea in the natural hot water beach along the southern shore. Yes, we realise there are about fifty other complicated steps you'd have to undertake to complete the project described in that last sentence, but what an amazing thing to be able to tell the goofballs back home.
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