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

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

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