Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre, Rotorua

2020 Update: Wingspan’s new site at 1334 Paradise Valley Road is under development, check the Wingspan website and Facebook page for up-to-date information about visiting times etc.

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 … Read the rest

All the colours of the rainbow at Rainbow Springs

(Update 2020: This post is a rough guide only, Rainbow Springs now have a few passes to choose from rather than a one off admission fee so different passes give different experiences, there is now no bird show and you can’t return at night to see a kiwi).

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.

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

Someone pulled the cord, my guess it was Dad, and the family of three zoomed over our heads. I was relieved, both … 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.

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’ in front of a duck load … Read the rest

Classic & Wooden Boat Parade, Rotorua

See Wooden Boat Parade for date and details.

Waka may lead the way as a flotilla of classic and wooden boats sail, chug, motor and paddle on Lake Rotoiti. The Classic & Wooden Boat Parade was started in 1998 to get Lake Rotoiti’s boats out of their sheds and on to the water. Over 70 boats joined the annual parade in 2013.

As a spectator, a patch of grass, sunscreen and sun hat are all you need (hopefully you can leave the umbrella in the car). You might get hungry when others bring out the baking so take morning tea … Read the rest

A new breed of boy racer?

Remove the blades, add some more horse power, make it loud and low, give it a name like MowJo, and you’re on your way to having a race ready ride-on mower.

When I saw lawn mower racing on the programme at the Rotorua A & P show last year, I thought it was a one off event unique to Rotorua. Not so, the first ride-on mower races were held in 2003 at the Omokoroa School gala, ride-on mowers meet regularly at the Sanson rugby park, and race at the Manawatu Garden Festival every year. The Rotorua A & P show … Read the rest

Agrodome Rotorua – Who Let The Ducks Out?

It’s the odour that hits you first at the Agrodome Farm Show in Rotorua – the smell of sheep replaces the reek of rotten eggs. If you’ve been in a shearing shed it’s a familiar aroma, if not, the smell is soon forgotten as 19 breeds of sheep run on stage and take their places on the podium.

Among them the hardy Merino, a breed that originated in Spain but now roams high country farms in the South Island, and my favourite, the Lincoln, the curly dreadlocks from Lincolns once dressed the wigs of barristers. I didn’t know there was … Read the rest