Summer is in full swing in New Zealand and tourists are flooding the country — in particular the Thermal Explorer Highway. Famous for the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and the eggy-smelling Lake Rotorua, the region makes a killing in the tourism business thanks to its huge amount of volcanic activity and its tendency to gush sulphur everywhere. For some reason people like to take pictures of these explosive vents, and nobody knows this better than local entrepreneur Scott McScott.
“I put up a sign outside telling people they can come into my backyard and look into my big steaming hole, and even sniff it if they want,” Scott told our reporter. “Promise these people a chance to gaze deep into my hole for a discount price and they’ll always take it.”
The tract of basically useless land has been in his family for 150 years after it was gifted to his ancestors by the local Māori as a practical joke. After failing to grow any substantial crops, it transitioned seamlessly into becoming a tourist trap for dimwitted freedom campers. Scott’s father advertised it as the “Burning Trail Thermal Adventure,” which somehow ended up in the Lonely Planet guide book. Inheriting this legacy, Scott now rakes it in, profiting off of people’s inability to google places before they pay money to see them.
Featured on the 30-minute bush walk is the “Stream of Hell” – a mildly hot trickle of spring water – and the “Gaping Death Maw”, which resembles a broken stump with some smoke coming from it. One can also see a bush which sort of looks like a face. The price of entry is $20.
“What the fuck was that?” asked one tourist immediately after finishing her tour of Scott’s hole.
“Glad you enjoyed it,” he said, without looking her in the eye. “No refunds.”
Online, people aren’t fans of Scott’s business. “I was promised the hottest, stinkiest hole on the whole North Island. These ones weren’t even frothing!” said one angry TripAdvisor review. “If you want to sniff some pitch black holes in the Rotorua region, this is not the place,” said another. “Would not visit again.”
Nonetheless, Scott anticipates that he’ll be in business a long time. “As long as people still get excited over New Zealand’s gaping, rancid holes I’ll have an income.”