We arrived in Rotorua after a long 6 hour drive. Everybody said this town stinks and they were right, literally. Because of the geothermic volcanic activity the whole town smells like rotten eggs (sulfur), but that’s okay because we came for the volcanic activity so you take the good with the bad.
Our hotel, the Arista Rotorua, was nostalgic and took us back to our days with young kids. Packing a troupe of five into a small hotel room with two double beds, immediately our kids would start jumping from bed to bed and start looking for their first adventure. It brought back fond memories.
The Arista was the perfect spot for a family, old but clean, lots of beds, two queens and two twins, a nice little living area, a kitchen and a little hot tub room. We would have loved this place one big hot tub that all the kids could have played in, Yahoooo. Lou and I found a more romantic use of our private hot tub.
We loved Pat, the manager, he was always ready to help lining up our activities, answering our questions, loaning us a torch (flashlight) and helping Umi with laundry. Friendly trumps luxury every time in my book, so we settled down to enjoy Rotorua.
Our first adventure was “The Squeeze”. We headed south out of town for what we thought was a tourist trap gamble, a river jet boat ride but highly rated on some of the travel sites that I did my research on so we bit the bullet and took a chance. Great call!
As we headed towards Taupo we stopped in a little retro café called Mihi’s and had a couple of cappuccinos and a toastie, great little place. A short ride and were at the check in point for our jet boat adventure. We started down the river on a 800hp jet boat with about 15 of our new closest friends. I’m thinking, oh great another tourist rip-off.
My opinion quickly changed as the guide, Adam started explaining the history and wildlife on the river. It was a beautiful ride and he was an excellent guide, informative and humorous. Halfway down we unloaded most of our new friends at a geothermal park for them to do a walking tour and we continued down river.
We reached a point where Adam instructed us to jump out of the boat and start our trip up “The Squeeze”. The water was warm on top and cool underneath because of the geothermal activity and it became obvious quickly we were about to experience something special.
As we headed upstream on a small tributary that fed into the river the water got warmer and the walls surrounding the stream got closer until you were literally squeezing between the walls. Let me correct that, the fat boy was squeezing, Umi was breezing. It felt like we were entering the Garden of Eden, ferns and moss adorned the sides of the cliff and the water was crystal clear and hot.
We continued upstream and could hear the roar of water ahead. Rounding the last corner there it was, a 15 foot waterfall that came cascading through the rocks at 100 degrees, we had just stumbled upon God’s hot tub. The small group took turns getting under and bathing in the warmth and massaging surge. This could make my top 10 list of experiences, it was magical. The Squeeze should not be missed.
As we hiked out, I had to ask Adam if he brought his lady friends to the Squeeze at night, I got a sly smile and he acknowledged that at night there are glow worms along the walls and was the perfect place for the ladies. “How many other people know about this Garden of Eden?” “Well mate there is a nudist colony close by and that on occasion we run into some of their lot.” “Unlike Adam and Eve, no fig leaves here, it’s never a pretty sight.”
Then he told me about a place called Hot and Cold, a locals spot that you could get to by road where a hot spring met a cold spring and suggested that we visit it at night. Of course it didn’t take much to convince me.
On the way back up river Adam put the 800 horsepower in the back of our boat to use as he twisted and turned with the throttle full bore. With a wave his hand he’d signal a spin and he would whirl the wheel and the boat would go airborne as it did a 360. Nobody came back dry or bored. Super cool!
Adam gave me directions to Hot and Cold we got our bearings and headed out once the full moon arrived. We borrowed a torch from Pat and headed out. It took a little convincing and cajoling to get Lou into step into a river in the dark, especially since there was another couple in the river but soon we were both floating in a beautiful “hot tub” river getting a moon burn. Within minutes we were friends with the other couple, a butcher and dental assistant from the UK. MAGIC!
Eventually a couple of guys joined our group and they were surprised to find four adventurist tourists in the “locals” spot. They did give us a warning, you should never put your head underwater in a geothermic pool. Amoeba’s sometimes exist in the water that can give you Amoebic Meningitis. It is very rare, only 400 cases reported but upon Googling it sounds like a nasty experience, the microorganisms enter through your nose and eat your olfactory nerve and then head for the brain. 97% of people who get Amoebic Meningitis die, Humm not how we expected to end our magical evening but great advice, keep your head above water when in geothermic pools.