Rotorua is one of New Zealand's favourite vacation destinations - and it is also the venue for the first Mudtopia festival to be held this December.
Rotorua is a delightful lakeside city that's known for its Māori culture and a memorable smell that's reminiscent of farts. It is also home to many steamy activities.
Fuelled by fiery volcanic forces beneath the Earth’s crust, Rotorua’s natural heat made it a hot spot from the get-go. Māori appreciated the geothermal waters for cooking and bathing, and for the medicinal powers of minerals such as calcium and silicon, and the sulphur that gives the area its eggy smell.
But after an Irish priest discovered the healing powers of its waters and mud in 1878, Rotorua soon became hot stuff - New Zealand’s first spa town.
The city’s first Tudor-style Bath House opened in 1908 to satisfy the masses wishing to "take the waters". A curative for aches, pains and skin complaints, arthritis and even "brain fog" - something from which I have long suffered.
Today, therapeutic soaks can be enjoyed at the Polynesian Spa, where outdoor pools range in temperature from tepid to a serious simmer.
There are plenty of other mineral spas around town as well as natural springs such as forest-fringed Kerosene Creek.
Mud-based fun can be found at the retro QE Health centre, where the mud baths in antioxidant-rich clay apparently leave skin "as soft as a baby’s bottom".
Described as "mindlessly entertaining", the bubbling mud pools dotted around town include one at Te Puia that is up to 10 metres deep.
Brown slime will take centre stage at Mudtopia, which will be held over three days from December 1-3 as a sister event to South Korea's Boreyong Mud Festival.
Visitors are promised everything from wellness and beauty treatments to a mud run, a mud bungy jump and mud tug-of-war. Five tonnes of South Korean mud powder will be imported especially for the event.
If you want to get down and dirty, check out http://mudtopia.com/