It’s a funny thing returning to a place as an adult that you’d visited in your youth. You tend to see it through completely different eyes. What I didn’t appreciate back then, suddenly becomes something wonderful to me in my late thirties.
This is how I felt about visiting Rotorua again, on my trip back home to New Zealand. I wasn’t wildly excited about going there, but I knew it was a must visit to show The Boy Next Door on his first trip down under. My expectations were low, because I guess from previous visits in my younger years, I took plenty for granted. Sometimes it takes being away from a place (and getting older!) to appreciate just how amazing it really is. This is how I felt about my recent trip to Rotorua and I hope you’ll add it to your itinerary if you ever visit New Zealand. Here are 5 must-see spots in Rotorua that I thoroughly enjoyed…
There are so many Maori cultural spots to visit in Rotorua, the choice is actually overwhelming. Ohinemutu, is in my opinion, the spot to go for! TBND discovered it when watching a YouTube video on the haka (Maori war dance), so we decided to stop by and I’m glad we did. It’s a small village nestled along the lake, with the most beautiful church consisting of Maori carvings and stained glass windows (see below). There’s a marae, which you can’t enter, but is worth seeing for the carvings alone (see my photo at the top of this post). The bonus? Very few tourists!
We visited the Redwoods Forest on an overcast, drizzly day, which actually made it even better as the forest colours looked amazing. The Redwoods are HUGE, and you can choose a walking track from a little as 30 minutes up to a full 8 hour hike. There’s also the option to pay to walk along an elevated pathway through the forest, but we found walking the 30 minute track showed us plenty.
Skyline Rotorua is SO MUCH FUN! There’s a bunch of things to do here. We took the gondola up to the top of the hill and chose to zipline down through the forest which was awesome! Take note if you do choose to zipline, they will encourage you to bungy jump backwards off a 16 metre platform at the end of the journey. I was TERRIFIED, but I did it and totally felt like an extreme sports chick afterwards hah! The other must-do is The Luge, and I’m not sure the best way to explain this, but if you imagine a bobsled/cart that you sit in and whizz as fast or as slow as you like along a track from the top of the hill to the bottom, you’ll have some idea of what I’m talking about! Failing that, search for it on YouTube. Whatever you do, don’t miss the luge, it was a highlight for us!
Wai-o-tapu was mind-blowing. The geothermal activity in this area has created some of the most fantastic colours from The Champagne Pool in the photo above, to The Devil’s Bath in the photo below. You’ll also get the chance to see those famous bubbling mud pools. This was one of our favourite places on our trip to N.Z, and we thoroughly recommend it!
Just before we were heading back to Auckland, we decided to delay our departure and visit Hells Gate and wallow like hippo’s in their mud pools. It was weirdly a really fun experience, and whilst we had a great time we would highly recommend that you take old bathing suits and clothes because we have struggled to get the sulphur smell out of ours, despite multiple soaking and washing attempts. The sulphur smell will turn your jewellery black too, so be sure to remove it.