New Zealand is a country blessed with the most beautiful natural scenery you could possibly imagine. Just flying over New Zealand left me in awe. I’m hoping to get back there next year and see a little of the South Island. Let me tell you about the first place I ever went in New Zealand because it is one place that the visitor to New Zealand simply MUST go to!
The flight from Auckland to Rotorua is really something special. In a small plane over the mountains, I’m probably both crazy and wrong but I believe at one point both east and west coastlines of the North Island were visible from the plane!
Rotorua is, as a town, maybe isn’t the most impressive but it’s really very nice. It’s spread out, and is settled in a region where there is a lot of thermal activity under the ground. It’s sitting on hots springs, and in town you can visit the hot springs at many places near Rotorua – and the most popular is the Wai O Tapu ‘Wonderland’ where you can walk around and see so many hot springs and sulphur infused water bubbling away, and taking up all types of colours thanks to the gases bubbling through from beneath the surface. It’s probably the best tourist site in the whole area.
Of course, you possibly want to experience the hots springs on a more personal level, and there are plenty of spas offering the chance to spend time in the waters for their healing properties or maybe just because it’s a relaxing experience. You can’t go past the Polynesian Spa, which is in town on the edge of Lake Rotorua.
It’s near the gardens on the edge of the lake too which are very passable indeed, and you can check out the Rotorua Museum located nearby which is thoroughly worthwhile. A little research has revealed that right now the museum is closed for restrengthening and redevelopment. The building, constructed near the start of the 20th century and over a hundred years old, used to be an old bathhouse and people came from all over the world for various treatments. It’s an incredible building and a wonderful museum. Hopefully sooner or later it will be back in action.
From Rotorua there are loads of tours you can take around the lakes, including one ‘Duck Tours’ on this sort of half boat/half bus contraption. They show you around a bunch of interesting and beautiful spots before the vehicle becomes amphibious and goes out onto a lake. I know there are others similar or the same to it, but I think this was the first one to do such tours. The original vehicles were created for the army.
Rotorua itself has a number of restaurants you can choose from in the centre of town. A variety of cuisines too, they are catering to the tourists more than anyone. You’ll find loads of tour companies as well operating in Rotorua and it’s a great place to pick up any gear you might need for any adventures you might have planned.
Finally, a Maori show is a good way to finish a day and get to learn a little more about the culture. We went to the Mitai Maori Experience, where the food was awesome (helps if you like meat I should warn you!) and it was a great evening.
All in all, Rotorua is a great experience and for me was a wonderful introduction to New Zealand, as it was the first place I visited there. Have you been? Please do comment – and May the Journey Never End!