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Rotorua (New Zealand)

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City: Rotorua / Country: New Zealand / World Region: Australasia / Pacific

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    9 Reviews
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      24.08.2012 02:15
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      Highly recommended place to visit in the North Island.

      Rotorua is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the North Island for the first time. Yes there is a smell of bad eggs that comes and goes in the wind (you will wonder if it is your travelling companion at first!). However, this is a small price to pay for the mind-blowing geo-thermal wonderland that makes Rotorua so special. There's something very Jurassic about bubbling mud that the mind and eyes just can't take in!

      Although you can see plumes of steam coming out of the earth in various places for free, a visit to one of the tourist attractions is a must. I have been to both Wai-O-Tapu (($NZ80 for family)and Orakei Korako(NZ92 for family)

      Although Wai- O- Tapu is more touristy, I would probably recommend this to a first-time visitor or family. The Lady Knox geyser is primed to go off at set times so guaranteeing the spectacle and there are numerous bizarrely coloured pools tainted by various minerals. For anyone who saw the Billy Connolly NZ tour, this was the attraction he visited. By contrast Orakei Korako is a beautiful, more natural, peaceful setting. A few minutes ferry ride takes you across to an amazing wonderland. A path leads you round various pools and formations but it's luck whether one of the 23 geysers will erupt while you are standing there. You may have to listen for the rumblings and double back!

      Other Activities

      I would think there is something for everyone in Rotorua and I certainly haven't seen or tried even a quarter of what is on offer . Action people may choose zorbing, or head to the Agrodome for one of their adventures. There are zoos and wildlife parks for animal lovers.

      The Skyline Luge is great fun and suitable for all the family. A kind of go-kart takes you down the side of the hill on a choice of 3 routes (depending on you sense of adventure) where you catch the gondola back up to the top to do it all again. The top of the Luge a gives you great views over the city. There is a wide array of price options for this activity but it is certainly value for money.

      Rotorua also offers a variety of cultural experiences. Many of the hotels have dinner and shows so tourists can see traditional Maori dance and haka. There are 3 main cultural evenings that I am aware of which have a show, dinner and demonstrate aspects of Maori culture. I have been to Tamaki Maori village. Yes, it is touristy but if it is your only chance of seeing a powhiri, wero and haka (welcome, and challenge )and to sample a hangi, (traditional meal cooked in the ground) then it is worthwhile. The ride in the waka (modern day bus) to the evening is fun with great drivers getting the group into the spirit ready to be transported into the recreated Maori village.

      On a sunny day just wandering around the lake and seeing the black swans is pleasant. There is also a paddle steamer cruise with various buffets, dining options located there. Government Gardens are attractive and you will find Rotorua Musuem there, also worth a visit.

      Accommodation

      There is a wide range of accommodation to choose from. Most motels and hotels are situated on Fenton Street . Many of the motels will have a thermally heated spa pool, some individual to the rooms. I have stayed at a couple of the hotels and the YHA but the motels do tend to offer great value for money if you are going to self-cater. Fenton Street is a good half hour walk into town if you are staying at one of the motels furthest away from the town centre (CBD).

      Tips

      There is a wide and confusing array of discount packages and offers for the attractions. Check out the leaflets in hotel, motels and the I-Site. The I-Site (tourist information) does get very busy here with a large number of coaches transiting through each day.

      Although the town centre is pretty compact many of the attractions are spread out around the city and require a vehicle to access them (geothermal parks in particular). Some of the attractions do offer free transport e.g. some cultural evenings.

      I would not recommend Rotorua as a long-term base for touring unless you don't mind the smell. However, you can certainly fill one or two days of activities here quite easily.

      Rotorua is not a place for shopping other than for tourist souvenirs. Dining options other than cultural evenings were hard to find other than a couple of Irish pubs, Asian Cuisine and the usual chains. However, there was a great food market on Thursday evenings in Tutanekai Street - well recomended.

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      19.11.2009 00:03
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      A very interesting town with Maori traditions, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers

      ROTORUA:

      Rotorua is on the NorthIsland of New Zealand almost in the middle about three hours drive from Auckland and six from Wellington.


      We stayed at the Sudima Hotel right beside Lake Rotorua and as we got off the bus the interesting sulphur smell of Rotorua greeted us. It is quite a strong rotten egg sort of smell that gets in to everywhere. I didn't find it too revolting but others in our group found it very over powering and complained constantly that it even pervaded the air-conditioning in the rooms.


      The town is quite small enough to walk around the main sights, the lovely steaming lake and the park alongside it and all the way to Ohinemutu. On our first evening we went to the Maori evening ( see separate review on this one)


      TE PUIA - THE NEW ZEALAND MAORI ARTS AND CRAFTS INSTITUTE:


      The next day we were up for departure at 8.30 to go to Te Puia the Maori craft institute and the geysers and boiling mud pools. We had a lovely Maori guide called Faith who explained about Maori customs and traditions with such enthusiasm and clarity that we learned such a lot from her. Within this institution there were schools where young Maori people were able to learn traditional skills from older Maori people. We saw the wood carving school, the weaving school and Faith explained the significance of the carvings which was to tell the Maori story and the weaving was to create clothes using flax. We then went to the meeting house where Faith explained how this building was a very important part of their culture and is used for funerals, weddings and many other meetings but no food or drink ever came in there as that was another building specifically for eating.


      GEYSERS AND BOILING MUD

      We then went to see the geysers and they were everywhere. Steam was rising in areas all around the sight and the rain made it all the more atmospheric. The largish geyser erupted while we were standing there and what an amazing site it was, like a huge kettle spurting out a mass of steam. Everywhere we went we could feel how hot the rocks were when we touched them. As it was raining and quite cool it was lovely to sit on them or put your hands on the hot rocks to warm us up.


      We then moved on to see the boiling mud pools which were like dirty grey boiling custard as they plopped and steamed away. They are really hot and you cannot get in for a soak which was disappointing, not that we were suitably dressed for that. When we were in the Dead Sea you could plaster yourself in Dead Sea mud before floating on the Dead Sea to wash it off. I don't think you can do that with this mud but I'm not sure but it was certainly an amazing site watching the bubbling boiling pool- They looked a bit like boiling chocolate in Willie Wonka's factory.


      REAL KIWIS TOO:

      Our next stop was the kiwi house where we saw two lovely kiwis is a darkened area behind glass so they were not disturbed by us. These birds are now very rare and because they are nocturnal it is quite unusual to see them in the wild. This was as close as we were going to get. The kiwi house is kept in the dark during the day so that the kiwis think it is night and they are in their natural sort of habitat but behind glass so they are not disturbed by visitors. We had to be really quiet while we were in there as they are very sensitive to outside noise. They are really lovely, strange beasts - a cross between a bird and a mammal. We watched them for about ten minutes while they bustled around feeding and investigating the undergrowth.

      SILVER FERN:

      It was a grey drizzly day but as we ventured out of the Kiwi House faith pointed out a wonderful example of the symbol of New Zealand, the Silver Fern and it was indeed silver and a really splendid sight - glistening in the drizzly light.


      PUKEKO:

      As we were walking around the lake towards Ohinemutu we saw these wonderful birds, Pukeko, with the most enormous feet. The babies' feet are the same size so they look like they are wearing their parent's shoes. They came quite close and we were able to get some nice photos of these lovely blue birds with their huge feet.


      OHINEMUTU:

      We decided we would walk along the lakefront, pop into the Polynesian Spa to check prices and what was on offer and then walk to St Faith's Maori/Catholic church which is in Ohinemutu.

      In this very unusual Catholic Church decorated inside with Maori carvings and weavings on the walls there is an etching of Jesus on a window so that when you are sitting in the pews it looks like Jesus is walking on the lake. The church had an organist practising when we went in so we had the full sound and visual experience in the church. Despite the Maori decorations this is a Catholic church and outside there were graves but the bodies were buried above ground in concrete slabs because of all the thermal activity which might have brought the bodies back up if buried. The village around the church was Maori and had a meeting house and other Maori building with beautiful carved decorations. All around the village were spouting steam geysers and hot thermal pools it was wonderful and so amazingly different. In people's back garden amongst the plants a spout of steam would suddenly appear. All around the village there were escape sprouts, steam seeping out from corners and vents everywhere. It was very atmospheric in the drizzly rain that we enjoyed during our stay in Rotorua, misty rain, steamy hot geysers all creating a ghostly, slightly smelly experience.


      LUNCH:

      After this we walked back into Rotorua town to find something for lunch and as it was raining still we decided soup would be nice and warming. We found a restaurant that was offering pumpkin and kamura (sweet potato) soup which we ordered with chips and aioli. The waitress was lovely and chatted to us until our meal was ready. The soup was just what we needed as we were both very damp and chilly and it came to a grand total of $23.


      THE POLYNESIAN SPA:

      After our lunch we returned to our hotel to get our swim suits and then went to the Polynesian spa for a relaxation. We paid for the lakeside pools rather than the adult ones as they seemed quieter and you got the towels, lockers and shampoo included. The adult pool was $20 and the Lakeside one $40 but it was recommended as superior. There were four alkali pools, 36°,38°C, 40°C AND 42°C. We started in the coolest and it was lovely with a view of the lake and rocks all around. It was hard to sit as you kept floating off but we stayed there for quite a while before moving to the next pool. This was pleasant but covered so you couldn't appreciate the cooling sensation of the rain and it was quite crowded so we moved to the next one. I couldn't stay here long sitting in the water but there were steps so your feet could be in and the rest of you out. The 42°C pool was far too hot to sit in for more than a few minutes but we had to try it before we returned to the first again. All around the pool area there were drinking fountains with cool water to stop you dehydrating which was good.

      In the first pool as the rain started to fall bubbles appeared at every drop so the pool looked like it was boiling. It was lovely sitting in the warm pool with rain falling all around you looking at the steamy lake behind.
      We had as many towels as we wanted and when I went for the camera I replaced mine with a new one and then got another for my hair after the shower. The showers had shampoo/body wash dispensers and were very efficient. You had to make sure you were dry before going into the locker/changing rooms as they had polished wooden floors. There were hairdryers there too so I dried mine before leaving as it was still raining outside.

      SUMMARY:

      We were only in Rotorua for two nights but it was somewhere very different. I had always wanted to visit Rotorua in New Zealand since as a child I learned about the geysers and boiling mud pools in Geography. It was not disappointing. It wish it had not been raining as it made it less pleasant to walk around and our photos were rather grey because of this but the spa was magical in the rain so that made up for it a little. My tip is, forget about the Maori evening unless my description is tempting to you of course.

      Wondering about the title? A Maori folk song translated means
      'Stormy are the waters of restless ( waiapu) Rotorua' - in Maori

      This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.

      © Catsholiday

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        16.09.2009 17:52
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        A Great place to visit

        As a former resident of New Zealand, I have visited Rotorua on several occasions and was never disapointed. I lived in Hamilton also known as 'The Tron' which is about 45 minutes drive from Rotorua. It is a fairly large town located in the central east part of the North Island of New Zealand on the edge of the large Lake Rotorua which has a high elevation above sea level as it was originally the crater of a volcano, and its this unique location which gives it is geothermal activity, making rotorua a very special place to visit.

        Rotorua is full of areas with naturally bubbling hot steam pools throughout the town, it is these pools which give Rotorua its unique odour of sulphur or rotten eggs everywhere you go. At first it is very strong and off-putting, but you soon get use to it.

        While there I visited the Thermal Wonderland which was fantastic! It is a large park filled with geothermal mud pools, streams and even entire lakes. It will take about 2 hours to walk through completely depending on how long you stay at each site.

        There is also the mountainside Luge, which is a downhill dry bob-sleigh run which was very good fun. There are three different difficulty runs to choose from, but if your like me, its the hard run everytime.

        There are several therapeutic spas found all over Rotorua for those of you who wish to be pampered for a bit where you basically immerse yourself in a naturally hot mud pool, take a dip in the Jacuzzi or hot swimming pools.

        Overall, this is a very interesting place to visit, it was the first geothermally active place that I had ever been too and I found it an unforgettable experience and will visit there again in the future.

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          08.06.2009 23:09
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          great place to visit with loads to keep you entertained for weeks

          Rotorua is a great spot for a wide range of sightseeing and activities, it smells a bit like rotten eggs but you soon get used to the smell!

          One of my favourite activities in Rotorua was an evening tour of a traditional Maori evening, with a visit to an old fashioned style village, a wonderful meal and fantastic traditional dances.

          Another must see is the Wai-o-tapu geothermal park. You can spend hours here exploring the many natural wonders such as sulphur pools, volcanic craters, geysers and mud pools. I would definitely recommend spending a full day here to appreciate all there is to see!
          There are many geothermal areas around Rotorua, some of them are free others require an entry free. Alot of the hotels and hostels have natural pools within the hotel to enjoy! These can be extremely hot but worth a quick dip.

          Another great activity in Rotorua is Zorbing! This involves throwing yourself down a steep hill in a big ball! This is reasonably priced but a great laugh!

          The Rotorua museum is also well worth a gander! lots of history about the town and some Maori history/culture.

          Another great activities is the cable car and karting! this is great fun, flying down a track in a go kart, like been young again! the views from the top are also well worth the trip!

          Rotorua is a great town to visit with a wide range of hotel and youth hostels to stay in!

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            07.04.2009 12:48
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            The centre of New Zealand's adrenaline packed adventures

            When visiting New Zealand, Rotorua is a must for any adventure or adrenaline junkie. There is so much to see and do you will never get bored and a few days here just isn't enough.

            As well as being known for all the adrenaline packed activities on offer, Rotorua is also known for its geothermal activity. There are many mud pools located in random places throughout the city and many hotels and hostels have bubbling hot pools that you can take a dip in. One thing that you will notice as soon as you get into Rotorua is the occasional rise of steam coming from the ground as well as the distinct smell of rotten eggs, from the sulphur which is in the geothermal spots. Don't let it put you off - it is disgusting and very strong in some areas but you soon get used to it.

            ~ White water rafting ~
            Rotorua is home to the largest waterfall that you are legally allowed to white water raft down. Being a 7 meter drop down Tutea Falls and grade 5 rapids, as a beginner this is pretty scary (OK it's REALLY scary and I almost chickened out) but it is one of the most amazing things I have ever done and I'm so glad I did. Kaitiaki Adventures is the company to do this with. You can either do rafting with up to 6 people in the raft or sledging where you hold onto a sledge by yourself and you follow the guide down the river. They are very professional and take it seriously but also great at ensuring you have an amazing experience.

            ~ Huka Falls ~
            Huka Falls is about halfway between Rotorua and Taupo and you should definitely make a trip here to see the wonderful falls. The Waikato River, which is normally 100m wide, is squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge and over a 20 meter drop. Every second up to 220,000 litres of water gushes through the gorge and shoots out over 8 metres beyond to the pool below. The noise as you are standing near it is unbelievable and it really is an amazing sight. You can take a Hukafalls Jet ride here where you jump in a jet boat and are sped up the river and towards the bottom of the falls.

            ~ Skyline Skyrides ~
            Here you can choose from a range of activities including the gondola cableway - a 900 meter long cable car ride taking you above Rotorua City, Lake Rotorua and the surrounding area; the luge - an fun ride down a track in a 3 wheeled cart; and the skyswing - a thrilling ride of 120kph with views over Rotorua city and the lakes.

            ~ Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park ~
            This is where you can come face-to-face with the famous kiwi bird and many other birds, fish and reptiles native to New Zealand. At night the park lights up in an array of rainbow coloured lights.

            ~ Buried village ~
            The village of Te Wairoa, which was destroyed by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886, is now a museum where you can find out about the New Zealand history of the village.

            ~ Zorbing ~
            Hurtle downhill in a globe at speeds of up to 30 km/h.

            ~ Hell's Gate and Wai Ora Spa ~
            Rotorua's largest active mud volcano and fiercest thermal area where you can take a dip in the mud pool and relax in the spa.

            ~ Hobbiton movie set ~
            Take a tour of the Hobbiton movie set and farm from Lord of the Rings where you can still see some of the hobbit holes in the ground.

            ~Tamaki Maori Village ~
            Explore the Maori culture by being taken back in time with your guide and visiting a Maori village where they perform their welcome ceremony and teach you about their history. You will then get to witness a performance of traditional songs and dance and then enjoy a traditionally-cooked feast from earthen ovens. This was a great experience and it really taught us a lot about the Maori culture and the food was wonderful. I would definitely recommend this as both an enjoyable evening and as a chance to learn about their fascinating culture.

            ~ Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland ~
            New Zealand's most colourful natural volcanic area where Lady Knox Geyser erupts daily at 10.15 am and shoots up to heights of 20 metres. You can see the geyser erupting for free but there is a charge to get into the Wonderland. Although interesting to see all the different colours of the geothermal pools, I wouldn't recommend this as it was way overpriced for what we saw. Lady Knox Geyser I would definitely recommend seeing though.

            Other activities and sights include skydiving, horse trekking, off-roading ATV tours, bungee jumping, mountain biking or come face-to-face with the Price of Paradise lions at Paradise Valley Springs.

            With all these exciting activities to do you won't even get a chance to see any of Rotorua town but you won't be missing out on much as the town really isn't that interesting. It's just like any other town full of shops and cafes and, if it wasn't for all the other amazing things you can do here, Rotorua wouldn't be anything to call home about.

            Rotorua is in the North Island of New Zealand nearby to Taupo and about 3 hours south of Auckland. This should be a definite stop on anyone's visit to New Zealand.

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            30.01.2009 14:20
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            A must do site in NZ

            Well again this was part of my Rugby tour in NZ, and a great part of it at that. But I had best get one thing out of the way before I go through its merits. It semlls. This is due to the Sulphur there as it is a geothermal hotspot, but thats as much part of it as the scenic geisers so is unavoidable. On the upside you do sort of get used to it.

            The town itself I would not deem to be great, it envisages almost a stereo-typical American town with the straight road and lots of signs down it, with little going on in it. Furthermore I believe it has come to be quite notorious for gang culture amongst the Maoris, but we definately did not experience any such thing.

            The actual attraction does obviously lie with its Geothermal characteristics, with lots of geisers and parks dedicated to the experience, which is nicely integrated with the Maori culter which New Zealand is very proud of and everyone who visits really appreciates the exhibitionism of it.

            The area also has lots of underground caves which we thought were much more exciting than the relaxing thermal spas and mudbaths (Although we didnt complain about those much, but beware the stuff stings if it gets in yours eyes, BIG TIME)

            This town and the geothermal experience that has been cultivated to suit our tourism interests typifies New Zealand is a must visit attraction if you are planning to go to NZ.

            I cannot do the whole experience justice

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            11.09.2008 19:08
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            One of the top places to experience maori traditions

            I have been to Rotorua twice, once in 2005 and again in 2007. Rotorua is another beautiful part of New Zealand with a massive lake and beautiful surrounding mountains. When you arrive in Rotorua you will be hit with a strong smell of rotten eggs, but dont let that put you off as you will get used to it, and the smell is produced by some amazing geysers which you can pay to see, which is definately worth it, but if you are on a tight budget then you can take a casual walk down to one of the parks where you can see many boiling mud pools for free. However to see the biggest and best ones you do need to pay. You can book a trip to a hangis where one can eat food cooked in the traditional way - steamed in a pit with heated stones, and experience maori traditions and woodcaft. Having seen the mud pools and geysers, then book a trip upto the luge and sky swing, by gondola. You can book this at the tourist centre and it is a really good day out, you can also experice zorbing. Rotorua also has many good restaurants and bars so you can have a really good night out.

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              09.09.2000 15:52
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              Rotorua is where you can experience the culture of New Zealand, have a nice hungi, and see the steam coming from the gutters. (A hungi is where the food is cooked underground, it tastes really yummy, and has a smoked flavour) Once you enter Rotorua you will be thrown back by the smell of sulphur creeping out form the gutters, everywhere.. it takes at least a couple of days to get used to the smell! But, once you're past that you'll be fine and can take in all that Rotorua has to offer. The geysers, the boiling/bubbling mud, flax weaving and all the Maori activites, including the Haka! It also has the Green and Blue lake, when you see these two, you will definately be amazed at the colours. These two lakes are situated not far from Rotorua itself and are pretty close to eachother. The Green lake looks green and the Blue lake looks... blue. But the most fascinating part about it is that these two different coloured lakes are practically sitting side by side to each other. How can that be? Everywhere you go you will see steam, geysers and boiling mud. Very natural. Many years ago when the Maori's still had their huts in the bush, a volcano errupted and covered an entire village. You can still see the remains of the village and it's a great place to see the after effects of the mighty Volcanic Lava. Rotorua is definately spectacular but don't forget to take your nose plugs and don't blame anybody for farting! They probably wouldn't of done it!

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                24.07.2000 21:38

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                If you go to New Zealand this is a must, it is approxiametly 145 miles from Auckland. The only thing that can be ofputting is the smell of hydrogen sulphide from the geothermal springs, you soon get used to it. There are plenty of things to do here and these were my favourites. A must is the New Zealand Maori arts and crafts institute. Here you can see geysers such as Pohuta which spouts every 30 minutes and spurts hot water up to 30m, my children loved the bubbling mud. Also here is a replica of a Maori village and show how the hot pools were used for cooking and bathing. Also go on a lakeland cruise on Lake Rotorua you can go on anything from a short cruise to a full day. We also enjoyed the skyline gondola to get a wonderful view of Rotorua. While at the top you can go on there luge coming back up on a sky lift a must if you take children with you. There are many other things to do but these were our highlights so if you go enjoy

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