Jet across the crystal lake, helicopter to volcanic islands, or zipline through the brush.
Rotorura is a thrill seekers paradise with countless outdoor adventure possibilities to fill the days. Set in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, Rotorura is the hub for geothermal pools, geysers, and traditional Moari culture. Named after Rotorura Lake, this little town packs a punch of thrill seeking and cultural activities customizable to any traveler. Whether you’re looking to jet across the crystal lake, helicopter to volcanic islands, zipline through the brush, or take it a bit easier and sink into a naturally heated geothermal spa, Rotorua is a must stop on the North Island. Here are just some of the top highlights to make the most of your stay in this awesome town.
Ok, you’ve made the decision to visit Rotorura, great start! Now what? A simple search will prove that the opportunities for a memorable trip are endless, but narrowed down we can divide the options into whether you want to get your heart pounding or enrich your mind with in this cultural oasis. Lets begin with a few blood rushing outings, because there is nothing like an adrenaline high to help you appreciate slower times in life.
Hop in a helicopter or floatplane and buzz to White Island, new Zealand’s only permanently active volcano. Land and explore the hidden lakes, geothermal pools, and breath taking views of the Rotorura crater rim. And then realize you’re on top of a volcano. We’ve all seen this movie, so make sure you have Tommy Lee Jones’ phone number and safely get back to the main town. New Zealand is made up of a series of volcanos, and many are still active. Just food for thought.
Become a flying squirrel as you zipline through ancient canopies of New Zealand’s rare natural bush (that’s New Zealander for forest). Awesomely experienced and hilarious guides will show the ropes through a 1.2 km course of 200m of ziplines and swing bridges. You’ll also learn about the history of the bush, meeting some friendly birds and animals along the way. This group is dedicated to preserving the natural environment of the bush, which has greatly diminished throughout Northern New Zealand as industries made way for farming and logging.
An absolute must with traveling through New Zealand is catching the hypnotizing site of a glow work cave. There’s a number of options through out the country to get up close with them, but why not indulge in a thermal hot pool soak before kayaking across Lake Rotoiti to come inches way from this magical, and amazingly beautiful, glow worms. Get ready to be in awe of the these starry, sparkling creatures, the beauty of nature in action.
Ever wanted to catapult yourself down a river on something no bigger than a large kickboard? You’re in luck! Sledging is a high adrenaline pumping trip down the river, past natural bush and through water holes and rapids. Don’t worry they give you a helmet and some flippers, so you have some control.
View the countryside by horseback and try to keep count of the sheep covered hills. Hint: There’s a lot of them. Take the opportunity to explore the mountain top views of Lake Okareka, graze and chat with the local farmers and residents about Rotorura’s regional history. Trekking the trails whether its rain or shine, (btws, in rain they provide cool outfits that resemble a New Zealander cowboy) there’s only one way to authentically experience the natural beauty of a country.
MIND and SPIRIT:
Whew! You’ve had a rush with all that sledging and trekking, but now it’s time to slow down and check out the cultural history of the town, maybe relax and pamper yourself for a bit. This is a vacation after all!
Known as one of the last living Maori villages, Whakarewarewa is an authentic look at the past and current Maori residents. Toured through the village by a local guide, you’ll learn how they utilize the geothermal land for their people – including cooking, bathing, and spiritual relevance. The locals perform an authentic Moari performances, maintain a temple, and teach their children to speak Maori language. It’s a beautiful insight into New Zealand’s cultural history.
Note: To catch a close up view of a geyser, walk to the near by Te Pui center, another source for Maori cultural experiences. Also, a bit further out of town, but it’s pinkish so kinda cool, is the Lady Knox Geyser.
Cross towering swing bridges as you venture through the skyhigh redwoods in Rotorura. Try to make the trip at sunset for the full impact of the David Trubridge lantern art display. Hung amongst the forest and ferns, the illumination awakens a magical spirit amongst the trees.
Soak. Relax. Repeat. A bit off the beaten path, this spot offers over eight different geothermal pools (public and private) heated to a variety of temps depending on your preference. Once you’re skin has taken in all the mineral enrichment, follow the short path to see the thermal source in action with billowing clouds rising up from the boiling river below.
For an in-town spa action, head over to the Polynesian Spa. This is a popular spot for local and tourists, so make sure to call ahead and confirm availability.
This is a view. And a really good one. Embark on the Skyline Rotorura at sunset for an exquisite view of the town flickering into the vast lake then fading back into darkness. If you catch a lightened ride up, take a look below you and see an extreme sports course for skiers and mountain bikers to jumping and twisting (potentially falling) on their way down to the bottom.
KIWIS! One of the few places where you get to see the Country’s state bird, the kiwi. Through their conservation efforts, Rainbow Springs is helping to maintain the kiwi population, which is steadily decreasing at about 2% each year. As you’ll learn, kiwis are nocturnal animals and extremely shy, so don’t take it personally. The facility has two different opportunities to catch a rare glimpse of these awesomely weird birds – walk through the nocturnal enclosure, or come back at night to find them rummaging for food in an outside habitat.
Start your walk around the town by checking out the Rotorura Government Gardens, a picturesque building surrounded by blossoming tulip flowers and bocce courts. Take in a quiet breakfast on the go and enjoy gazing across the lawns. After the bocce tournament ends, continue your stroll along the Oruawhata Dr and Lakefront Dr to take in the glistening water and swans fluttering to the edge.
Photos: Nicole Albertson