Are you looking for a holiday destination that can keep the whole family active and entertained? Well, Rotorua, New Zealand may be the ticket.
Affectionately called RotoVegas, this city is the launching ground for nature walks, Maori cultural experiences, trips to smelly geysers and luxury spas. Besides being known for its hordes of tourists, this city is famous for its smell. Catch a whiff of Rotorua’s sulphur-rich airs and you’ve already got a taste of NZ’s most dynamic thermal area, home to spurting geysers, steaming hot springs and exploding mud pools. The Maori revered this place, naming one of the most spectacular springs ‘Wai-O-Tapu’ (Sacred Waters). Today 35% of the population is Maori, with their cultural performances and traditional hangi as big an attraction as the landscape itself. A hangi is a traditional feast in which the food is cooked in a pit over heated stones covered by leaves or towels. In the unique case of Rotorua, the food is sometimes just tossed into a thermal pool. Instant stove.
Despite the pervasive eggy odour, this ‘Sulphur City’ is one of the most touristy spots on the North Island, with nearly three million visitors annually. The real draw is all the activities around the city that people can do. You can easily fill a few days here. Here are some of the big things to fill those days:
Visit the Whaka Thermal Reserve: If you like geysers, then the thermal reserve is a good place to see some as well as learn about the natural history and geology of the area. While it’s not free to get into, the guided tours are free. The reserve is split into two parts, with the more touristy one, Te Puia, closest to town.
Head Out into the Lake: Rotorua sits right on a lake. There’s even an island in the middle. A good way to spend a beautiful afternoon is cruising along the lake and hiking around the island.
Walk the City: Rotorua has a great museum that gives you a look at this town’s history. It’s been a tourist town for over 250 years, though tourism was a bit more difficult back in the beginning. The Government Gardens are pretty nice to look at too. You would find walking around the city quite charming and a good way to spend about an hour. (It’s a small city). Catch a Maori Cultural Show: Rotorua has one of the largest population of Maoris in New Zealand and is the center of cultural experience tours. They are a good chance to learn about the Maoris, see some of their dances and eat a huge meal at the end. Just make sure you get on a good tour. The better ones cost more money but the extra price is worth a more authentic experience. Going Zorbing: This is a popular activity with backpackers. You get put into a giant see through ball and rolled down a hill. Picture it very much like what being in a washing machine would be like. You also have the option to add water into your ball, which is probably really like being in a washing machine.
Relax in a Hot Bath: All the sulfurous springs in the area means that there are lots of hot springs to relax in. There is the big Polynesian Spa where you pay for all day access and drinks. The Blue Baths also has a heated pool. If you just want a lazy day relaxing, a heated pool/spa is the way to go. Spend a good afternoon in the Polynesian Spa and you would feel like a new person. Skyline Rotorua: Skyline Skyrides is one of Rotorua's best-known family fun and adventure activities. It's on the side of Mt Ngongotaha and you get up there on an eight-seater gondola. The ride down the Scenic Track, which is 2km long, has rest areas where you can pull over and enjoy the stunning views over Rotorua. The Intermediate Track offers a few more twists and turns but is still suitable for all ages. The advanced track, short and sweet, is only 1km long and it has a thrilling ride suitable for children over 10. There are other activities you can enjoy up on the mountain, including walking tracks, the SkyVue Extreme 4D Spaceship and the Sky Swing. The Agroventures: If you have not yet had your fill of adventure, a visit to the Agroventures is a must. There is something for everyone; Bungy Jump, the Swoop-NZ’s favourite sky swing, Agrojet-NZ’s commercial jet sprint, Freefall Xtreme- the one & only wind tunnel and the incredible Shweeb racing suspended monorail- the only one in the world. There is also the skydiving activity for those who want some more dose of adventure.
The Agrodome: As you head out of Rotorua, you have to make one final stop at the Agrodome. There are heaps of activities for the family, from the world famous Sheep Show to the Organic Farm Tour. The Farm Tour is a highlight for everyone. The tractor driver gives a great historical commentary and there's time to feed the animals and get up close and personal to some truly huge cows. It is a great way to end a fabulous trip to Rotorua, soaking up some fresh country air and spending quality time together as a family.
If you are traveling around New Zealand, and you are the type who enjoys self-drive holidays at foreign destinations, you should definitely stay at Lake Taupo, situated at in the North Island of New Zealand. It is the largest lake by surface area. You can hire a car and self-drive to Rotorua which is just 45mins away from Lake Taupo. Rotorua is certainly a cool place to spend a few days, a fantastic experience, right down to its charmingly antiquated hotels. It’s a mystical place, sort of otherworldly, where mud boils, rocks float and the earth itself smokes. It’s impossible to be bored in a place like New Zealand. But, then, there is no place like New Zealand.
Team Veena World