Rotorua, New Zealand
Rotorua is one of New Zealand's best known tourist locations, revolving around the Maori People and Maori culture, geothermal activity, natural hot springs and volcanic landscape of the region. Rotorua's sunny days are ideal for all manner of outdoor activities, with fantastic walking or mountain biking trails, and excellent trout fishing.
Rotorua saw the commencement of tourism in New Zealand, with people coming here in droves to see the famous Pink and White Terraces, huge natural, cascading, silica terraces in the 1800's. Unfortunately when Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886, the Pink and White Terraces were destroyed. Despite this setback, Rotorua's popularity continued to grow, with so many other fascinating places to see.
Geothermal Activity around Rotorua
Geothermal activity is everywhere in Rotorua New Zealand, bubbling, steaming, hissing from the hot volcanic interior. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland shows off the brilliant colours of the Champagne Pool, and Artist's Palette, as well as the once a day eruption of Lady Knox Geyser. When Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886, it created the amazing Waimangu Volcanic Valley. At Te Puia you can see scalding water being flung 30 metres into the air as Pohutu Geyser erupts almost continuously.
Hell's Gate Thermal Park has all the geothermal activity; as well as the only hot waterfall in the southern hemisphere, and a spa complex specialising in mud baths, and Maori Massage. In the centre of Rotorua is the Polynesian Spa, where you can soak in your own private mineral pool, or be pampered with a massage or skin treatment.
Maori history and culture in Rotorua
Maori history and culture is everywhere in Rotorua. At Te Puia, you can visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and see traditional Maori carvers and weavers in action. Learn about the history and skills involved in producing each object. For something different, you could try a stay at a marae, staying with a Maori family.
Learn all about the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption at the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. Here you can bathe at the Blue Baths in a hot spa, and learn all about the area's colourful history. Upstairs you can relax, looking out over the immaculate Government Gardens from the old 1930's tearooms.
Tamaki Maori Village has a recreated Maori Village hidden in the forest, where you can learn more about the life of Maori People, and be entertained with a hangi and concert. The Buried Village at Te Wairoa was destroyed in the Mount Tarawera eruption; here you can see exactly what happened, and how they lived on that fateful day.
Around Rotorua there are many tracks past lakes, forest and volcanic cones where you can walk, hike, ride a mountain bike or a horse, including Whakarewarewa forest with the giant Californian Redwoods. Mountain bikes and horses are available for hire. You can take a 4WD tour to the top of Mount Tarawera, and then hike around the crater's edge, giving you an insight into the power of the Mount Tarawera eruption; before taking the scree slide down into the bottom of the crater. There are many other walking options including Blue Lake, Tarawera falls, Lake Okareka and the Rotorua Walkway. On water there are many lake and river trips, including cruises, jet boating, white water rafting and kayaking.
Rotorua Attractions Ideal for Families
There are a number of attractions that are ideal for families. At the New Zealand Farm Show or at the Agrodome you can see New Zealand farming in action. The shows include trained rams, working sheep dogs, milking cows and lamb feeding. Very entertaining, and expect to be surprised!
Rainbow Springs is a conservation park, where you can see wild trout, feed the fish, be amazed at the New Zealand bird life, and see the prehistoric Tuatara. The highlight of Rainbow Springs is Kiwi Encounter, where Kiwis are being bred and reared to be put back into the wild. Next door at Skyline Skyrides you can take a Gondola ride to the summit; take a luge ride down the mountain; or have a meal at the restaurant, whilst admiring the views of Rotorua and Lake Rotorua.
Paradise Valley Springs includes lions, water birds, farm animals, trout and giant eels! For some excitement try Zorbing, where you climb inside a giant inflated ball with a bucket of water, and roll 150 metres down a hill. Only the Kiwis could thing of this!
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