Caught a shuttle bus out to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Area - supposedly the most beautiful of the area's geothermal parks. The first stop was at Lady Knox Geyser - it erupts every day at 10:15 AM. It erupts at that time because at 10:10 a ranger pours half a kilo of soap into it. I found the crowds annoying but not as annoying as forcing the geyser to perform - it just doesn't seem right. The eruption wasn't even very impressive, maybe twenty feet for half a minute. I didn't even take a picture.
Next went into the valley of Wai-O-Tapu proper. This was interesting with mud pots and hot springs, but mostly just sulfur smelling steam vents. The colors are supposed to be amazing, but in the overcast skies they seemed washed out. The crowds were fairly bad on the inner loop, but as I moved on to the farther trails it thinned out some. There were some impressive lakes and nice views - the Champagne Pool was probably the highlight - a large blue bubbling hot spring outlined with a bright red mineral deposit. I walked all the trails in the valley in just over an hour - I had planned on being there for three.
Next stop was at the Maori village of Tamaki. This was as disappointing as any of the culture on display set ups I've ever seen. I declined to see the entire show (expensive and I hate those kind of shows) and just wandered around the market place. The market was just a group of stands demoing carving (not really) and trying to sell overpriced T-shirts and carvings. Twenty minutes was more than enough.
Back in Rotorua I was glad that I'd been so far ahead of my plan - it started to pour rain. I hung out reading for an hour and when the rain lightened walked in to town. I had a very early supper, checked out the internet then just wandered around town checking out the shops. Back at the hostel I booked a bus for tomorrow to Waitomo and a cave tour (black water rafting, abseiling, rock climbing and glow worms - should be fun!) Spent the rest of the evening reading - I'm almost done with Alex Garland's The Beach (much better than the movie).