top of page
  • Mei Anne Foo

Life In NZ: Rotorua Reeks

But we love it and even brought home some of its funk.

Even within the confines of our car and way before our waewae (feet) touched the whenua (land), we knew we've arrived in Rotorua just by the smallest of sniffs.

Why does Rotorua smell? Specifically, it reeks of rotten eggs, so much so that some people have dubbed the city "Rotten-rua". This rotten egg smell is tied exclusively to hydrogen sulfide emissions, a result from an ancient volcanic eruption and a slew of geothermal activities (bubbling mud pools and geysers) the tremors left behind.

So, off we went to fully explore what this stinking city had best to offer: Baths at Hell's Gate. But before we went for a dip in the infernal inferno, we explored the endearing Eden that is the Redwoods, or Whakarewarewa Forest. My husband and I rented mountain bikes for a couple of hours to ride along a couple of Grade 2 trails flanked by more than a couple of giant trees. The Dipper track was our favourite and we'll definitely be back to pedal across some intermediate tracks although I was already quite tired from just zipping through the ones for beginners.

Thankfully, we booked our spa session at Hell's Gate (Disclaimer: I was still sore afterwards! I guess Hell just isn't a place you should expect to be healed).

Here's a review I wrote on, where I purchased our spa tickets:

A must-do in Rotorua, though be prepared to take the city's distinct smell back with you after the Sulphur Spa! The view from the pool was well worth it though! The Mud Bath, which the staff recommended us to do first to open up our pores, was such a unique and fun experience too! The mud was sticky-smooth, kind of like butter, and took to our body easily. Staff were attentive enough to remind us that after 20 minutes pigging out in the mud, it was time to leave the mud bath for health reasons. No time limit on the sulfur pools though I'm sure you don't want too long of a hot dip. Before we entered the baths, we were given a health and safety talk, and a container to store all our belongings (change of cloths, etc.). The unlockable containers are kept at a manned booth, though on that day we noticed there were times when the booth was left unattended. So, we recommend not leaving any valuables if possible. Gender-specific changing and shower facilities were clean and helpful in getting the initial sulfur stench off, though like I said, the stink sticks with you... For days.

Actually, weeks. The stench even transfers from the body to the bed... Towels, clothes and people who dare hug you are not spared! Would we do the spa experience again? Maybe not. Just for the sake of not assaulting the olfactory nerves of others.

But like I said, we'll visit Rotorua again, for the Redwoods and other attractions (Prior to this trip, our first time in the sulfurous city was spent mostly at Tamaki Māori Village, which led me to pen an article about Māori Culture In A Modern World, published in A magazine). We love Rotorua but maybe not enough to bring home its funk a second time.

65 views0 comments


bottom of page