We had an unpleasantly stressful and eventful journey to our first “stop”, Rotorura, yesterday that included almost running out of petrol, being given a hire car with a radio/tape player that doesn’t work (for three weeks!) and broken/lost sunglasses. We’re staying at the Kiwi Paka YHA youth hostel along with a couple of coach-loads of schoolkids who generally enjoy running around and shouting at each other. Mental note to self: no more YHA youth hostels.

Rotorura’s a big town built on and around hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools after a volcanic eruption in the 19th century. It’s quite amazing walking down the street where steam clouds billow out of drains and bushes seem to be on fire. Photos to come. And there’s also the small matter of the smell: it’s a sulpherous, eggy pong that lingers in the air and is surprisingly much worse than Helen’s. We’ve been to the Government Gardens museum, complete with Victorian baths (now in ruins) and will be having a go at the Polynesian Spas this afternoon. Also planned for later in the week is lugeing, zorbing, a “traditional” Maori concert and hangi (meal).