Blogger is still not allowing me to download images.... Annoying!!
Rotorua is probably most known for it’s steaming hillsides and boiling mud pools. Today I took a walk in the park that is directly below my balcony. Its name is Kuirau Park, which is the name of the largest boiling lake there. The Maori legend goes that the lake was originally called Tawakahu and was cool enough to swim in. A beautiful Maori woman by the name of Kuirau used to swim in it all the time. In the lake lived a Taniwha (a scary lake monster, I think?). The Taniwha usually let Kuirau swim in peace while admiring her beauty, but one day he could no longer contain himself and took her. At this point there are two told endings - first being that she died from being so terrified, and the second that the Taniwha took her to his lair to stay with him. Either way, the Gods got so mad they made the lake boil in order to get rid of the Taniwha.
There are multiple pools of boiling sulfuric water and several mud pools all over the park. The lake is by far the largest and most beautiful. Elsewhere in the park I was walking along and would here random bubbling and gurgling right next to me from a pile of rocks, and then realized that was mud boiling. The mud pools smelled quite strong, but the lake and other water pools were not stinky. It was a bit eerie walking along the footpaths and bridges that would go directly, and within inches, over some of the pools. Especially after Bronwyn had told me that while she has worked at the hospital, two inpatient patients have managed to commit suicide by running down and jumping into these pools!
There are lots of natural beauty products that contain the Rotorua mud in them… and of course there are spas all over the place! Apparently there are also some more hidden pools that the tourists don’t get told about that the locals visit, and they are free. I won’t go alone anytime soon - I think you have to know which ones are safe to get into! In the Kuirau park, there were also a couple of lovely stops surrounded by gardens where one could sit on a low bench and soak one’s tired feet in the warm water rich with minerals. I didn’t stop to do that today, but will definitely plan to do so while I am staying so close to the park.
Perhaps tomorrow I will write to you about the Whakatau Ceremony and my general first impressions from work… Wish me luck! I am glad I’ll have Bronwyn there - that helps settle the butterflies a bit!