We had a look at things to do in Rotorua on our second day at New Zealand. There are so many activities to do, that a day in this city is not enough. So I will go over the things that we have done that would highly recommend.
After our day in Hamilton Gardens we quickly drove to Rotorua. As soon as we got in the vicinity of the city, we started to smell something funky. The closer we got, the funkier it became. We got out of the car and got a full whiff of sulfur, something like a rotten egg. It’s crazy, I never knew a town can smell like that. Something that has to be seen or smelled to believe. It comes from the geothermal activity of the land. The smell will not grow on you like a fungal infection though.
There are so many things to do in Rotorua and the hotel we stayed at was really good. Jet Park Hotel Rotorua for AU$117 a night and includes continental breakfast. We originally thought that two night stay would be so much better because of the many attractions. The smell was the problem, even in our hotel we could smell a little bit of it. Soon as you get out though, the smell will hit you like a ton of brick. Then your nose acclimates to it and is not so bad. You do get a whiff of it every now and then.
Waikite Thermal Valley Spa
So the first thing I would recommend is to hit the thermal spa. It really is great to enjoy some hot natural thermal spas. Apparently it is a natural pain reliever, reduces stress and helps with some skin conditions. Check with doctor before soaking in one because it could kill you. People who are pregnant, elderly, have heart condition or another serious disease. A doctor’s advice should be sought after.
The closest thermal spa from the Rotorua CBD would be the Polynesian Spa. Since it is the closest and the most convenient, it will surely be full of tourists and locals alike. An alternative is a least known thermal spa known as the Waitike Valley Thermal Pools. If you want to avoid the crowd, it is a half an hour drive from Rotorua. There are nice scenic views that you can enjoy along the way. Deer jumping over fences, cluttered cows and sheep grass feeding on steep hills. We even saw a sheep on top of a cow, what the? New Zealand, seriously.
So we got to the spa and bought the Spa Plus. This option includes a private spa for a minimum of two people. You get to have your own private party for 40 minutes. Forty minutes doesn’t sound a lot but trust me, it is plenty. Use of all the other pools, a towel and a bottle of water. The great thing about the private spa is that you can adjust the temperature of the water entirely to your choosing. This deal will set you about $27/person. I recommend you book to avoid disappointment.
After a great relaxing spa session, we headed back to Rotorua. We heard about the newly built Eat Streat. Which is a street full of restaurants and no, Streat is not a typo. There is a Thai restaurant, Indian, Italian, Greek and bars are also on the menu. Restaurants are not aplenty but certainly enough to have a choice. We decided to have Indian and went in the Indian Star Restaurant. I don’t recommend it, vegetable curry tasted very artificial. It wasn’t the best roti, it was too charry. Naan was just so-so. We ordered extra buttered, garlic naan. They brought us a plain one. If you really want to have Indian, there is another Indian place, near the “Eat Streat” post. I did notice that mostly Indians were there. They must know something we don’t. That was that and we called it a night.
Te Puia Geothermal Park – Haka and Geysers
The next day was quite full on. Visited a theme park, rode a luge, ran around a park aimlessly and watched Maori’s perform their Haka. Started the day off with a continental breakfast then headed to Te Puia Geothermal Park. Here is a link for more info, prices, and things to do. We paid extra to watch the Tera Haka, it cost about $66. Watching the Haka in person is something everyone should experience. You also get to learn more about their culture.
There is another geyser located in another park just next to this one. I think the story goes, the park was a single entity and was owned by two brothers. They had a disagreement and divided the park. Hence the two different parks in close proximity. The other park had a geyser which erupts only in the morning at about 10:15. Te Puia has Pohotu geyser which erupts twice every hour. It is the largest geyser in the Southern hemisphere and can reach in heights of 30 meters. Watch in awe as it blows steam and spouts boiling water.
Breezed through the park in two hours. Time is just our enemy during this trip. Always trying to do as much as we can in a day. One thing for sure is that we had a blast doing it. One regret though is that we really didn’t stop, relax and take in our surroundings.
Allocate at least half the day to thoroughly enjoy the park. Watch the video on the top of this page to see the Haka being performed.
Skyline Rotorua – Gondolas and Luge
We were actually thinking not to do this and visit another geothermal park. Lucky we did it! Luge was so much fun. First time luger here. So we headed straight from Te Puia to Skyline Rotorua. It’s just a quick drive from Rotorua’s city center.
There are many things to do here too! As I said so little time. There are bike tracks for the mountain bikers. I was looking at the trails and it looked dangerous. I don’ t mountain bike though, so maybe piece of cake for the ones that do.
Zoom Ziplines looks so much fun watching it. We didn’t actually do it, so little time! I know, I won’t say it again. Apparently the zip line can go as fast as 80km/h, that is fast. If you hit something, you are pancake. I really think that we should have done this one too.
There are also others like Volcanic Hills for the wine lovers. Stargazing to see the universe. It operates at night and depending on the weather. Nature Trails for the hikers. Sky Swing, it can reach speeds of up to 150kph.
What We Did Do
It’s not called things to do in Rotorua without mentioning what we actually did. You guys have to do the Luge run. Anyone can do it, little girls were passing me like maniacs. There are three courses though. Beginner, intermediate and advance. I recommend starting in the Beginner/Scenic route first until you get the hang of it. Move on to Advance if you are confident enough or to intermediate. Advance has slopes and is steep.
We bought a day pass which included unlimited ride on the gondola and buffet dinner at Stratosfare for $65. It was on special, normally $81. The luge, was purchased separately and paid $26 for 3 rides. So all up we paid $91 each. For more pricing info click here.
The day pass enables us to come and go as we please. The luge ride went pretty quick and we had two hours to kill before the buffet. So we headed back to Rotorua’s city center. She did some shopping and I just ran around some random park.
Rode the gondola back up to Stratosfare and had buffet. The dinner was great. The beef and lamb was the best. New Zealand has the best meat. We also ordered a separate cray fish, that was delicious. It was fresh and not saturated in sauce.
Spend More Time in Rotorua
I’d say two days will be enough for you to do most of the fun stuff. Having enough time to stop and smell the roses or in this case smell sulfur. I make it sound like it’s bad but really your sense of smell gets use to it. No, it will not linger after you leave Rotorua. Watch our video in Rotorua to experience what we experienced.
A Warrior’s Love Song
Before you go, I just want to share a song with you. It’s a love song depicting a story passed on by generations of Maori people. The story goes, a girl named Hinemoa, swam a cold, freezing lake in the dark of night to see the man she loves, Tutanekai. In the dark, only guided by the sound of Tutanekai’s flute.
For the full story of this beautiful song click here.
Hope you like the song as much as I do.
We are very simple people that just loves food and travel. In essence, I cook, she shops, we eat and travel.
Exploring places, eating tasty food and sharing it with the world.