.....The BiKeWriTer

Dec. 17, Friday, Rotorua, NEW ZEALAND

Dec. 17, Friday, Rotorua, NEW ZEALAND – Spending a couple days in Rotorua before flying out to the south island and Queenstown.

Rotorua is a community of about 60,000 known for its thermal springs; a kind way of saying the whole city smells like feet.

The neighboring body of water is Sulphur Bay, a primary feeder for the olfactory system.

In the 1880s, crafty settlers decided to turn the thermal springs and accompanying stink into a tourist attraction and thus created the old Rotorua Bath House.

Wealthy people traveled 42 days by boat to get to the “Great South Seas Spa” to “take the cure.”

The medical facility (a loosely used term) provided highly acidic baths warmed to steaming temperatures.

The thermal pools were hailed as cures for ailments like arthritis, eczema, epilepsy, and sexual impotence.

One popular treatment was vibratory massage. Strapped to a chair, a person was placed in a large bath and vigorously shaken. The treatment was said to cure constipation and obesity.

It took 50 years for people to realize the bath treatments did nothing. There was another minor issue – the building was falling apart.

Years of acidic steam and warm baths caused massive corrosion; plaster swelled, pipes leaked and in disgusting fashion the combination of moist air and hydrogen sulphide turned the white walls lead paint to a moldy black.

The Bath House, soon referred to as a “decayed monster”, tanked.

Other venues occupied the building, including a Maori concert hall, Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society, a nightclub and disco. (Doesn’t this sound similar to the old Eagles Club / The Rave in Milwaukee.)

In the 1970s the city finally took over the facility and opened the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. Exhibits include traveling art displays and tours of the old Bath House.

RAINBOW SPRINGS…

The Kiwi like to tout the kiwi in New Zealand; the bird – not the fruit.

I managed a behind-the-scenes tour of Rainbow Springs; a public park and purpose-built kiwi hatchery that helps supplement the near-extinct population.

The hatchery spends $2,500 per egg to raise the bird to maturity.

Seriously – there is no cuteness factor with these birds.

Standing approximately 12-inches tall, they have a Gilligan-like erratic sense of movement. Long narrow bills, cone shaped body, and big feet; they would be the last one picked on the playground.

If the females had a say, they would have pulled the plug on the species centuries ago. Three words – eggs like cannonballs. It’s one of the heaviest eggs in the world in relation to the bird’s body weight. Putting it in people terms, this equals a woman birthing a 35-pound baby.

One of the other birds on display is the Kea; a parrot, protected by law, and many wonder why. Similar to a destructive teen, a gang of birds can pick apart and destroy a car in less time than it takes to complete a Sunday service.

At Rainbow Spring, Jenny the Kea was on display. Dull gray feathers, a good mimic, and Houdini-like skills. Keepers had to change to an electronic entry system after Jenny picked the lock on her cage and escaped.

As part of the breeding process, the sanctuary introduced two males to Jenny. They were found dead the next morning and not from exhaustion, nor with smiles on their face.

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