'Aphrodisiac' smell sees Playboy mansion plans for Rotorua

The rotten egg smell emanating from New Zealand's popular tourist town, Rotorua, is such a powerful aphrodisiac that Hugh Hefner wants to build his next playboy mansion there.

Well, that's what the city's savvy tourism board would have you believe on April Fool's Day.

The board has issued doctored photographs of Hefner in town and a racy media release quoting the Playboy magazine founder as saying: "There's definitely something in the air in Rotorua."

"At my age it's great to get up in the morning without relying on any form of medication."

There is a nugget of truth in the seasonal tomfoolery, with Kiwi tourism executives keen to capitalise on research by Italy's University of Naples showing a link between the city's pongy hydrogen sulphide smell and male sexual arousal.

The research, published this month in the prestigious Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, goes so far as to claim sulphide could be used to restore sexual function in men.

The city has used the claims to bat away recent criticism from a cheeky Australian expat who wrote on his blog site, fushnchups.co.nz, that Rotorua "smells like the whole town let rip at once".

The media release claims Hefner was jet bound for Rotorua as soon as he heard the sex claims and brokered a deal to convert the city's museum, which incidentally resembles his Los Angeles mansion, into a Playboy holiday mansion.

"While I thought the research findings would attract a lot of international interest from men looking to improve their sexual performance, I never expected a call from the man responsible for the sexual revolution of the sixties," Lyall Thurston from Rotorua Centennial Trust said in the release.


Destination Rotorua Tourism marketing manager Don Gunn admitted the launch, which included doctored audio of Hefner apparently answering questions about how much Rotorua had improved his virility, was "just a bit of fun".

He said he hoped Hefner wouldn't take issue with it.

"We thought about getting in touch with him but decided we'd just wait and offer him a free trip to check it out if he hears about it."