We do not know for sure, but we imagine the English translation for Rotorua is Ham ‘n’ Eggs! Well at least that is the only thing you can smell as you drive into town. The town is situated on New Zealand’s most active thermal area and is the most visited town on the North Island by tourists. The Ham ‘n’ Eggs smell is the sulphur that is released by the earth’s core and even though it is claimed that you get used to the smell quickly, it’s all lies; though the odour is not that unpleasant.

You were expecting a fart joke weren't you?

As we approached town we noticed a sign saying ‘Thermal Walk’ and decided to pay them a visit. It turned out to be a little house at the end of a rough road. A man was inside and explained we would need to part with $13 each before going on the self-guided walk. Separated from our money we were shown a door that led us to a man-made walking trail through some hills and over a river. We could see water vapour rising in the distance above the trees and bushes, and then, as we turned the corner, in came to view several hot springs feeding into the river.

A few low flying ducks around here!

The view was ’Steaming’ and we moved around looking at natures work. As we wandered around we noticed that the ground was warm to the touch even though the outside temperature was only about 10 degrees Celsius. We found a sign leading us to the Chocolate Pot and Porridge Bowl; intrigued we walked the path to its end and found what they were talking about. It was a muddy slop with air bubbles rapidly popping out, a bit crappy looking, but interesting!

After wandering around for half an hour and then spending a further ten minutes looking for Alex’s glasses, well done Claire for finding them, we made for the town centre. As the gas wafted into the cabin we continually checked that the other person hadn’t dropped one, but who could tell really? Our aim was clear; we wanted to book a ‘White Water Rafting’ trip for the following day. We homed in on an i-site and booked the ‘Hot Deal’ with Kaituna Cascades, 09:15 start with $10 dollars off a photo CD if we wanted one. It came to $82 each, which was quite reasonable we thought. We booked into a holiday park for the evening and found that they had a hot swimming pool, heated by the earth and had a dip; that was a really nice touch and while we were bathing there was a ‘Haka’ class going on in the main building, interesting to say the least with plenty of shouting!

Back Paddle! Back Paddle!

The next day our rafting adventure was awaiting us, we checked out and made our way to the Kaituna Cascades depot to meet our fellow rafters and guides. After signing our lives away on the paperwork we got suited and booted in the changing rooms. We were wearing our swimmers underneath our clothes, as we had been advised, then put on our wetsuits, thermal fleece and neoprene boots which were provided. We were then given our safety equipment a hard hat and life jacket, we were looking very cool at this stage.

What we have here is 'Faliure to Communicate!'

During our safety briefing they asked who would like to sit at the front of the raft! The rafting team was made up of all girls except Alex, so as you can imagine, there weren’t any takers straight away until Alex decided to put us both forward for the important role. We were given a short lesson and explanation on how to handle the next hour of rafting! Including all the do and don’ts if the raft flips over or you fall out, Gulp.

Wave to the camera!

We loaded the raft onto the transporter and then loaded ourselves into the van; the start of the rafting was just 2 minutes down the road and we watched as the raft was carried down to the river and then all jumped aboard, paddles in hand. The river was fast moving and we were all rowing according to our skipper’s instructions, forwards and backwards, whatever was required of us at the time. The main event of this particular river is the 7 foot waterfall which you raft down; it is at this moment in time the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, the King of falls!! In preparation for this humongous drop, we had a few rapids and a 3 metre waterfall drop, which seemed f**king scary at the time, shortly followed by a 1 ½ metre waterfall. Getting wet is part of the package and being right at the front you get totally soaked straight away. Just in case we were not soaked enough, our guide asked us if we wanted to get a closer view of a rapid we had just cascaded over; the unanimous reaction was ‘Yeah!’ so we were instructed to row into the rapid we had just slid over. The strength of the water was intense it almost flipped our raft over. We both managed to swallow enough water to count as our daily intake, mostly due to screaming so much.

Lets take a closer look then!

We had some bumps into rocks along the way and in one rapid one of the girls fell out, we rescued her quickly, then the guide said we could pop in for a quick swim, Alex threw himself in, the guide meant a really quick swim, and seconds later he said we were approaching rapids; Alex needed to get back in the raft sharpish. This was not easy, the girls needed to use all their strength to help him back into the raft, it was a close call and we went down the next rapid with Alex’s feet still in the air. The guide had seriously underestimated Alex’s fatness.

Don't go chasing waterfalls!

So after around 25 minutes of rafting, the big one was approaching us; we saw our two safety kayak guys both go over the fall in their vessels, and luckily come out alive on the other side. Our turn was next and we paddled forwards towards it then got into the “get down” “cover” position which was to get down onto your bum and hold on for dear life.

We found a Silver Fern!

Splosh! It was over in a flash, but relief was felt as the raft had stayed the right way up, somehow, and all passengers were accounted for. We had a breather, to catch our breaths and celebrate our achievement and look at the magnificent feat. We made our way through some more rapids and posed for some photos before heading out of the river. We had to carry the raft on our heads back to the Van and shivering and soaked headed back to base. The industrial strength heater was awesome and much needed as no one could feel their hands or feet. We had a quick look at the photo’s available to purchase on a CD and we partook in a copy on for $30 they; are usually $40 but we got it cheaper as part of a promotion.

High on adrenaline we fed ourselves and decided to take some of our own snaps of the river and falls before heading onwards to our next desination.