09.02.2015: Rotorua, New Zealand
We found it really difficult to transition back to ‘normal life’, especially after having experienced magic that was Hobbiton, but Rotorua didn’t make it too challenging for us… the sulfur city was full of its very own magic. Niki and I spent the rest of our day around Government Gardens (originally known as Paepaekumana), with our first stop being an early dinner at GoRaw, which truly was a hidden gem packed full of fresh and dried natural, organic, local and raw produce. Delicious.
The Rotorua Museum wasn’t too far away, just a couple of blocks down. The short walk led us to the most beautiful marigolds and most fragrant parsley (yes, parsley!) which grew along the entrance of Government Gardens. We had unfortunately arrived a little too late to experience all the museum had to offer, but we were satisfied with viewing the Bath House building (featured above) from a distance. The iconic building happens to be NZ’s most photographed building! The Bath House, which today houses Rotorua Museum, was once a famous geothermal spa offering therapeutic — and sometimes bizarre — treatments to visitors from all over the world.
This site is of legendary and historical importance to local Maori people, for here many significant battles have taken place.In the late 1800s, the Maori people gifted 50 acres of this land to the crown “for the benefit of the people of the world”. The land was a scrub-covered geothermal area with several therapeutic pools. The scrub was cleared and formal gardens planted. Several large trees remain from those early days, including multi-trunked Japanese firs and an unusual Californian weeping redwood. Realising the opportunity to create a South Pacific spa attraction, in 1908 the New Zealand government opened a large and elaborate bath house, built in the Elizabethan Tudor style of architecture. It was the government’s first major investment in the tourism industry.
It was the most hilarious moment when Niki and I snapped out of our gaze at the incredible Bath House and realised that we had walked into the 11th World Golf Croquet Championships! Sorry!
Government Gardens was adorned with statues made out of stone, ceramic, bronze and even wood! We ran about like little kids, hiding behind, taking selfies with, and just plain having fun around the statues.
On the way back to our accommodation, we spotted a ‘basement cinema’, looked at each other, grinned playfully and walked right in with a spring in our steps. Why not, right? We were curious to see what cinemas were like in New Zealand. Were they as extravagant as the ones in Singapore? We soon found out that not only were the cinemas here a lot smaller, more private and less visited (there were only three people in our movie
theatre room), it was a whole lot funkier too — there was a rock climbing area. The rock climbers had put up a quote of the week: ‘Sun’s out, Gun’s out’!
Niki and I watched a French movie titled ‘Me, Myself and Mum’ (French: Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table!). It is a 2013 French autobiographical coming of age comedy film written, directed by and starring Guillaume Gallienne. Based on his stage show of the same name, it follows Guillaume as a boy as he develops his own identity and his relationship with his mother. The movie made me slightly uncomfortable at times — it was a great movie, don’t get me wrong, but I guess it just wasn’t my cup of tea.