Rotorua

rotomusm.jpg (43283 bytes)Rotorua is a lake and city.  It is favorite tourist destination for weekend getaways from Auckland.  It offers a variety of attractions and also has a good selection of hotels, motels, holiday parks, restaurants and shops.  It is an area with a large Maori population and it seems that relations are good.  The Maoris are involved in the tourist trade and do their part to protect the reputation of the area.  There were reports rotolodg.jpg (35730 bytes)of tourist muggings and one young foreign woman being attacked but no one was hurt other than psychologically.

The whole Maori issue in New Zealand is complicated and we didn't really get a complete grasp of it.  For the most part we saw everyone getting along well and enjoyed the Maoris we met.  New Zealand had protections in place for the Maoris from very early in the white man's settlement but any time a group of immigrants overruns the indigenous population there is going to be problems.  rotolod3.jpg (40240 bytes)There is definitely an undercurrent of racism in New Zealand and it cuts both ways.  It seemed to us that it was just a natural problem that is difficult to avoid.  It just needs continuing effort and the New Zealanders seemed willed to remain vigilant.  This is a traditional Maori meeting house still in use and found all over New Zealand.

Rotorua is a large lake with steam vents bubbling up sulfur gas around the southwestern shores.  It makes the place smell like rotten eggs but it provides the heat and minerals for famous hot baths. luge1.jpg (47360 bytes)

Rotorua is also the home of the original land luge.  You get a small cart with handlebars that steer and brake.  You take off down hill on either the scenic or expert course for a few dollars a go. 

This was our first adrenaline rush activities and the expert course didn't disappoint.  I actually spun off the track the first time.  You are close enough to the edge of a crash most of the time that you know they will never build one of these in the US.