One of the most diverse things in hotel rooms is the shower. Sometimes the hot water tap is on the left, sometimes on the right. The water could be a powerful massage source or a meager trickle. I can easily spend a good two minutes figuring out how to get the water to come out of the shower head. In one hotel, it took me a moment to realise there was no shower door. In this motel, the dial was super sensitive, so Canadian icicle was a mere half centimeter from boiling lava.
Pro tip: if you ever go to New Zealand, it is unnecessary to pack chapstick or lotion. They have these brilliant creations called iSites, which I found in every town we visited. Among helping you book hotel rooms and plan hikes and activities and having several hundred pamphlets to add to your ever growing pamphlet collection, there are testers of all sorts of lotions and lip balms. You can completely moisturize with the samples of lanolin body lotion and honey eye serum. If you are willing to go find a bathroom to rinse off, you can even test the mud masks.
We drove to the Wai-O-Tapu hot spring park. We viewed pools of all different colors, thanks to the various minerals and oxides present. My parents and I made a game of guessing what compound was in each pool, based on the color. The weather switched from cold and rainy to hot and dry, causing my mom and me to take our rain jackets off and on at a comically frequent pace. My dad played tour guide, reading knowledgeably from the pamphlet at each geyser. Getting engulfed in sulfurous steam smelled gross but apparently it is good for your skin. My favorite sight was Devil’s pool, because of its bright, acidic green color. The mud pools were entertaining to watch. It looked like boiling clay, with bubbles of various thickness and size. I couldn’t help but think of Shrek’s hot tub.
Next stop was a hot spring designated for swimming. It was on the edge of a river. I waded into the cool river water, and as I got closer to the springs, the water gradually got hot, especially near the surface. I braved the heat and climbed up to the source pool. I felt like I was standing in a hot tub turned up to the highest setting. Other people in the pool encouraged me to stand under the hot waterfall. It was worth it. It was basically like having a hot shower.
I woke up to rain. When we arrived at Whakarewarewa, the precipitation had transformed into a light drizzle. During the journey, as we followed a large white van, the door to its luggage trailer swung wide open, and as it entered a roundabout, a suitcase escaped. We pulled over and rescued it, leaving it at the nearest iSite.
To enter Whakarewarewa, we sauntered across a bridge and set foot upon the geothermally active land. I loved the Maori cultural show. They make great use of their tongues and even make their eyes look as if they are popping out, all to confuse and scare the enemy during war preparation dances. I put this knowledge away for use in future Snapchat face offs. The villagers knew how to put the free geothermal power to good use. They built wooden boxes over steam vents for steaming meats. They had a designated hot pool for cooking leafy greens, corn, and seafood. The locals took baths in the hot water twice a day, curing arthritis and bug bites among many other ailments. It felt oily due to its richness in minerals.