Rotorua, filled with fascinating Maori culture, hot springs and mud pools is a must-see stop in New Zealand.
After a fun evening, dig our own personal spa bath in the sand at Hot Water Beach, we made our way back to our guesthouse to shower, pack and get to sleep. Although we often aim to get on the road early, we aren’t always very successful! We just love sleeping in, specially when we are on vacation, but adventure holidays like this one, often involve a lot of driving. There were many days when we need to get up, and on the road, as soon as we could.
Our next stop, after the Coromandel Peninsula, was Rotorua.
Almost every single plotted journey along New Zealand road, took much longer than our navigators said that they would. IF YOU ARE PLANNING A ROAD TRIP AROUND NEW ZEALAND, TAKE NOTE: The drive times are extremely inaccurate. We don’t like to travel too quickly, and we also stop to buy snacks, stretch our legs, and take pictures. Taking all of that into consideration, we were still shocked just how much longer the drives were than what they were estimated to take!
Catch a whiff of Rotorua’s sulphur-rich, asthmatic 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 Māori revered this place, naming one of the most spectacular springs Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters). Today 35% of the population is Māori, with their cultural performances and traditional hangi as big an attraction as the landscape itself.
Despite the pervasive eggy odour, ‘Sulphur City’ is one of the most touristed spots on the North Island, with nearly three million visitors annually. Some locals say this steady trade has seduced the town into resting on its laurels, and that socially Rotorua lags behind more progressive towns such as Tauranga and Taupo. And with more motels than nights in November, the urban fabric of ‘RotoVegas’ isn’t particularly appealing…but still, where else can you see a 30m geothermal geyser!
– Source of Quote
A Comfy Place to Rest
We found our Rotorua accommodation on AirBnb. Right from the start of our communications with our host, we could tell that we were going to have a great time here. This family have converted a back portion of their house into a completely separate apartment. Our room was very spacious – with absolutely everything that we could need.
With AirBnb, you never quite know just what the hosts will provide. Sometimes they go so far as providing snacks, fruit, and breakfast, and other times, they provide nothing but the bare necessities. This particular AirBnb find was really a great one. We were welcomed with fresh egg, breakfast cereal, coffee supplies, and even some necessities in the fridge.
Feeling “At Home”
There was a ginormous tv on the wall, opposite the couch, so we enjoyed watching movies while we spent time relaxing here. It is so good to find accommodations that feel “like home” when you are on the road for long stretches. We especially appreciate this for our son. When we stay somewhere comfy, he feels so happy. He takes out his toys, and plays while we cook and unwind. Eli loved that little wooden coffee table (in the image above). After unpacking all of this toys, he lined them up, and marched them up and down on the table. So sweet!
Our New Zealand “go-to” Meal:
Our go-to meal in New Zealand: A roasted chicken, wraps, salads/ fresh vegetables, cheese and hummus. A few items like this would get us through a number of meals. A big container of yogurt, a few sachets of oatmeal, milk, and some nut/ cereal bars, also ensured that we were set for breakfast when we woke up each morning.
Below, Neither of us is from an earthquake prone area of the world. We also have never lived in an area like that. So this sign made us both stop and stare for a few minutes. Hmmmm, right there, on the side of fridge. You know, just in case?!
Tikitapu Blue Lake
On our second day in Rotorua, while searching for the Redwood Forest, we took a wrong turn, and came to this lake. We actually didn’t even see the sign, below, so it took us some time to figure out where we were. Since the lake was so pretty, and the weather was prefect, we stopped to admire the views and take a few pictures.
Rotorua Gondola and Luge
On our way to a Maori cultural show, we contemplated going up the Rotorua Gondola. We were, however, afraid that our timing would be off, and we didn’t want to miss the start of our pre-booked Maori experience. Knowing that we would be doing this in Queenstown – with much more incredible views – made it an easy decision for us to skip this one.
We did, however, stop here to admire the vineyards. There was a tasting room, pictured below, bad sadly it was all closed up.
Our time in Rotorua was simply amazing – and we have many stories coming your way in the next few days. Although we could have spent a whole week in this city, we only were only there for three nights. That meant we had to carefully pick what we wanted to do, and see, while there.
The Redwood Forest, above, and the Maori Cultural Show, below, were definitely our TWO FAVORITES for Rotorua.
More on our Rotorua adventures coming your way in the next few days!