Blooming Rotorua – Tulip Fest

The Government Gardens in Rotorua are beautiful at any time of the year, but especially when the tulips are blooming during the annual Tulip Fest. Te Runanga Tearooms in the gardens is Tulip Fest HQ and it’s the meeting place for a lot of the events held from 1 – 9 October 2016.

Tulip Fest - Government Gardens, Rotorua

Tulip Fest – Government Gardens, Rotorua

I went to hear Maree from Galaxy Travel talk about Avalon River Cruises, one of the cruises includes a visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Holland. I’ve always associated tulips with Holland, but I learned from Maree that tulips were imported … Read the rest

Dinner at Urbano Bistro, Rotorua

We had dinner at Urbano Bistro this week and both agree it is worth recommending on the world wide web. Urbano is one of Rotorua’s smarter dining options, the decor is dark and stylish and we felt really comfortable, they have created a nice atmosphere. It is at the pricey end of the dining spectrum, most mains are over $35 and entrees $17+.

Smart dining at Urbano Bistro

Smart dining at Urbano Bistro

One of Mike’s favourite entrees is pork belly but he finds it a dish that is a miss as often as it is a hit – Urbano hit a six and he … Read the rest

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua

The star attraction at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is The Champagne Pool with its sun burst orange edges and tiny champagne like bubbles on the surface.

The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Elsewhere in the park sulphur colours the landscape yellow and adds a pungent and uniquely Rotorua smell to the air.

Yellow sulphur mounds

Yellow sulphur mounds

Kanuka grows wild along wooden walkways that hug cliff faces and take you over steaming ground to the miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall.

Walkway to Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Walkway to Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall

You can’t see the boiling mud at the bottom of Inferno Crater but you … Read the rest

DIY Mud Masks at Hells Gate, Rotorua

We took advantage of a $39pp Grab One deal at Hells Gate for a mud bath and sulphur spa (usually $75pp). When I think of a mud bath I think of a thick pool of mud like this one in Colombia. At Hells Gate you step into a pool of hot muddy water and then scoop mud out of a container with your hands to give yourself a mud body mask ….

Hells Gate Mud Bath

Hells Gate Mud Bath

There’s a 20 minute limit in the mud bath due to it causing a rise in body temperature, it’s long enough for a … Read the rest

Agroventures Adventure Park, Rotorua

Agroventures Adventure Park in Rotorua is an outdoor temple of adrenalin, there are five ways to get your adrenalin injection – Agrojet, Freefall Xtreme, Swoop, Shweeb and Bungy. We joined a city full of locals earlier this year when Agroventures hosted Locals Weekend. Rotorua residents were generously offered $10 tickets for all activities except bungy jumping which was discounted to $50.

Three people harnessed in the Swoop

Three people harnessed in the Swoop

We’d been away for the weekend and arrived at Agroventures late on Sunday afternoon to take our places in the queues. It wasn’t our late arrival that stopped us swinging on the SwoopRead the rest

Cheap fuel in Rotorua

A travel tip for visitors to Rotorua, especially those fuelling up cars and boats. Fuel in Rotorua is competitively priced compared to other areas of New Zealand, but even within the city you will find some petrol stations cheaper than others. We’ve found that Mobil at 238 Te Ngae Road (the road to the airport) consistently has some of the cheapest fuel in town. You will also find the other petrol stations on Te Ngae Road – Caltex and Gull competing on price. Note that Mobil display the prices for diesel, 91 octane and 95 octane roadside so you know … Read the rest

Cheers to the New Zealand Falcon

You may handle a form of the New Zealand falcon or karearea every day without realizing – it’s the bird on the back of our $20 note. If you want to handle a falcon for real you may get the chance at Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre in Rotorua. Mike’s hand shot up with the rest of the crowd when there was a chance for Atareta the falcon to perch on the gloved hand of volunteers. Mike’s hand was one of many Atareta was happy to stand on for a photo, but she was determined to get the food … Read the rest

All the colours of the rainbow at Rainbow Springs

Some of the best dressed birds are at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua. There’s the Mandarin duck with its purple chest, layers of orange face feathers and bright red bill.

Mandarin duck

Mandarin duck

These smoochy masked lovebirds only have white ringed eyes for each other as they perch side by side in their yellow collars.

Masked lovebirds

Masked lovebirds

The plump New Zealand wood pigeon or kereru looks like it’s dressed in white painters overalls, its contrasting head, throat and wings the colour of iridescent mussel shells.

Kereru

Kereru

Fashionistas might say the kingfisher striking this pose looks a bit matchy matchy, but with a … Read the rest

Adrenalin Action at Skyline Rotorua

The adrenalin wasn’t ours, it belonged to the young girl who was saying “I can’t, I can’t do it”. We were standing on the ground looking up as she hung 50 metres above in the Skyswing at Skyline Rotorua. What she couldn’t do (and who could blame her?) was pull the cord that would release the Skyswing and send her flying over the side of Mount Ngongotaha. (Feb 2017 video shows man fainting twice!! on the Skyswing).

Going up on the Skyswing

Going up on the Skyswing

Looking down over the side of Mount Ngongotaha

Looking down over the side of Mount Ngongotaha

Pull the cord, the Skyswing is released and you swing over the side of the mountain

Pull the cord, the Skyswing is released and you

Read the rest

A quacking good time – Rotorua Duck Tours

They’re yellow, they’re amphibious, and they’re really called ducks, or more precisely, ours was a 1944 GMC 6×6 DUKW.

Ducks, as they became known, were initially used by the military in WWII. They’ve been modified for use in Rotorua and other cities around the world as commercial tour vehicles.

On dry land at Lake Okareka

On dry land at Lake Okareka

And what do some ducks do? They quack, and we did too, courtesy of a yellow quacker handed out at the start of the tour.

There are some things, quacking like a duck say, that you wouldn’t dream of doing. However put one enthusiastic ‘Conducktor’ … Read the rest