Scope, Rotorua

Scope – Wild About Flavour, add the hunting magazines on the rack and you have a few clues that wild food is a theme here. The menu includes a  Mai Mai Duck Open Sandwich ($23) and a Venison Burger ($23). Venison and blue cheese pasta is sometimes on the specials menu, and a venison sausage is part of the Hungry Hunter Big Breaky ($23.90).

A large deer antler chandelier hangs over the counter and stag heads feature on the unusual wallpaper. There are also handy stag head coat hooks on the back of the toilet doors.

Wild food is a … Read the rest

Te Puia, Rotorua

Te Puia combines Maori culture, our national icon – the kiwi bird, and geothermal activity on the city’s doorstep, 3km from Rotorua centre.

Visit during the day to spot the two brown kiwi in the Kiwi House and see geothermal features including the naturally erupting Pohutu geyser. Watch Maori carvers and weavers at work, and walk onto Rotowhio marae with its carved wharenui (meeting houses) and pataka (storehouse). Cost – from $54 per adult (add on options available). (Discount for New Zealand residents and locals).

The evening experience adds more Maori culture with a powhiri (welcome), cultural performance, and Maori … Read the rest

Lake Okareka Walkway, Rotorua

Lake Okareka Walkway is around 5.5 km return. The first 2km to Silver Beach is flat and easy going, the last .5km or so to the Okareka outlet requires some uphill climbing  including stairs.

The last .5km of the track is narrower, it’s not too difficult but it’s not accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. It took us about 2 hours return to do the walk but we dilly dallied watching birds with binoculars and taking photos.

Lake Okareka Walkway starts on Acacia Road where you will find a car park and an information panel. The walk is for people only, … Read the rest

Has Banksy been in Rotorua?

Probably not. However I spent some time Googling phrases like ‘How do you know if it’s a genuine Banksy?’ before I came to that conclusion. It was fascinating reading, if you find the real deal on a wall here’s some of what you’re likely to need – 24 hour security, a diamond chainsaw, a team of art curators and builders, and a lot of money to pay for it all.

How do you know if you’ve found a genuine Banksy? A couple of tips – Banksy’s work is painted in busy areas where it will be seen, so not in … Read the rest

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, Rotorua

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe is home to five fancy cat breeds including Ragdolls, a British Blue and a Bengal. On 13 May some little kittens moved in too. The fancy felines have two rooms full of cat gyms, hidey-holes, and furniture to climb.

Most of the cats at Fancy Meow are Ragdolls as they are an especially people friendly breed, they also have the most beautiful blue eyes.

It’s a rule at Fancy Meow, and a good one I think, to let sleeping cats lie so timing and luck determine which fancy felines will be up and about to play … Read the rest

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. (Update 2020: Not so annual anymore unfortunately).

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 to Holland from Turkey in the 16th century.

Did you know there are thousands of gerbera plants flourishing in a geothermally heated greenhouse only 15 minutes from Rotorua?  … Read the rest

Raceline Karting at Off Road NZ

After driving a V8 in Taupo Mike was keen to get behind the wheel of another fast machine, so that made gift giving easy this year. Cue Raceline Karting at Off Road NZ, around 25 minutes drive north of Rotorua in the countryside near Mamaku. Off Road NZ is a professional set up with a top class race track. If you know your karts they have 390cc 4 stroke SODI GT3’s imported from France.

Kitted out in a balaclava, overalls, gloves and helmet you’re good to go, up to 100km/hour the website says. I managed an average speed of just … 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.

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

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

You can’t see the boiling mud at the bottom of Inferno Crater but you can hear it swishing violently like an angry washing machine. In contrast the delicate and pretty Primrose Terraces have … 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 ….

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 mud face mask to … Read the rest

Velocity Valley, Rotorua

Velocity Valley (formerly 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.

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 Swoop or doing a … Read the rest