Looking from the Polynesian Spa Across to Sulphur Bay
I said my farewells to Jess and Angie. Today they were off to see Angie's youngest aunt who lived in the Rotorua area. She was a little nervous since she hadn't seen her aunt for a long time, but at the same time excited. It will give the lasses a break from the rain.
I busied myself catching up on my blog, and managed to get a call through to Sally, my eldest daughter. It was still the evening of the 21st back in the UK, and she was in a pub with my son and her cousins celebrating her birthday. She sounded quite merry, and thanked me profusely for her presents which I had bought last November. Fortunately my son was on the ball in passing them on to her on her special day. It did me good to hear their dulcet tones again.
With the weather set to be miserable all day, the obvious pastime in Rotorua was a visit to one of the spas. The Polynesian Spa was in an ideal location in the Government Gardens overlooking Sulphur Bay.
In 1878 a catholic priest, Father Mahoney, discovered the alleviation of his arthritis after bathing in the thermal waters of hand-dug pools where Polynesian Spa is now located, initiating an international reputation for the therapeutic properties of the spring water. In 1882 the Pavilion Bath House was built, followed by the Ward Baths in 1931. In 1972, the government of the day leased the Ward Baths to Polynesian Pools and the spa is now known as the internationally acclaimed Polynesian Spa.
Beside the spa, hidden behind a wooden fence, large concrete tanks were fed by steel pipes from some subterranium sources, producing steady supplies of mineral laden water and steam.
Shallow-spring hot acidic water supplies the therapeutically renowned Priest Spa and soothing, deep-spring hot alkaline water supplies all the other pools.
One of the Alkaline Pools
I came across a couple, the chap I mistook for English. However, he had lived in Australia for twice as long as he had lived in the UK. His wife was Australian through and through. "We came over here for a wedding, and it has been one long four day barbeque since we got here," he told me. "Crikey, I haven't been to a barbeque yet while I've been here!" I exclaimed, not that it bothered me. "Best food there is. We live on them in Australia," he added. They had one day spare after the wedding before returning home, so the spa was the treat they gave themselves.
In another pool I met two American couples, one from Michigan and the other from Florida. The couple from Michigan were here to escape the normally harsh Michigan winter, normally 10' of snow, though oddly, they had had a mild winter this year. They were here in the spa to relax and unwind before going to one of the many Maori evenings in the district, complete with hangi.
As they left another chap entered the pool. "You can always hear when there are Americans around," he laughed. "Where are you from?" I asked, recognising a lilt from that part of the globe. "Vancouver," he replied, "but I spend a lot of my time here. My daughter and her mother live here." That was a strange answer and I decided not to follow it up. I recounted my experiences of Vancouver and the island to him, and my hikes in the Canadian Rockies. "They say the South Island is very much like British Columbia. I haven't visited the South Island yet, there is still so much to see and do on the North Island," added the chap. He did a lot of hiking, and also loved to explore the lakes in his canoe.
The Large Thermal Pool
I circled around the pools for a few hours, I had nothing else better to do in the rain. Eventually my skin started to wrinkle, so I reluctantly climbed out, showered down, and had a cool drink. It had been a thoroughly pleasant and relaxing experience.
The supermarket was my next hiding place from the deluge; I needed to make some provisions before my imminent journey north. As I left the store, I was approached by a young fellow with a clip board. Why do they always collar me? The nice surprise was that he wasn't representing Green Peace for a change. He was trying to raise people's awareness of child abuse in the country. I thought there were enough posters and radio slots on the subject to fully publicise the problem, so I wasn't sure what his angle would be. However, once he realised I wasn't a New Zealand national, he switched off and wished me good luck with my travels.
My final refuge from the incessant downpour came from the cinema, where "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" kept me guessing for the next couple of hours. It is well worth watching.
I returned to camp; not many tents out tonight, indeed none at all. I drove around the large area of grass and just picked a pitch that seemed to have the least amount of standing water around it. That was me done for the day.