Rotorua is a place known for its extreme sports and adventure activities like zorbing (rolling down a hill inside a giant ball), the sky swing, bungee jumping, sky diving, down hill mountain biking and luge. It’s also popular for its Maori Cultural heritage and shows. When in Rome… is probably a saying I use all to often when travelling, but its very true- you come to a place to do what they do, see what they see, and learn through partaking in their activities.
Whakewarewa living Maori village
So, in Rotorua we went to the Whakewarewa living Maori village for a tour, some lunch, and to experience the geothermal pools for which they currently take advantage of for cooking and bathing. There was a short cultural show which Ry enjoyed very much, and Zo had a vast array of facial expressions from fear to cheer complete with clapping. There was a tour of the village following, which was lead by one of the village family members, around the gardens, through the geothermal pools, and overlooking the geysers that were blowing steam and water high into the air at frequent but varying intervals throughout the day. The temperatures of the hot water holes were measured to be about 200 degrees and were often rapidly boiling. The steam coming out was intense and it was a relief to have come on a cooler, overcast day, especially for me carrying Zo during her Ergo nap tour.
The Whakewarewa living Maori village is accessed via a small one lane bridge (the third bridge since circa 1885) and it has become customary for visitors to throw coins (originally a penny) into the water for the local kids to collect.
The next day we went up the gondola on the side of a hill with panoramic views of the Rotorua valley and Blue Lake. We are pretty limited in what we can do for extreme sports with such wee kids, but the skyline luge was one we could do. Josh and I took turns with Ry and the other took Zo (as she was too little to ride). We purchased 7 rides and shared them between us. There were three paved tracks to choose from (scenic, intermediate and advanced) that wound down the hill, around the redwood trees, through tunnels, under bridges and all the way down to a chairlift which brought you back up to the top. The luge cart looked a bit like a sled with handlebars used to steer, brake and stop. Super fun and fast.
There was not much else of interest to us in the town of Rotorua, though we did walk from the campground down into town and near the lake to check out the vibe and current events (namely looking for something happening for Whiatangi days-the current long weekend holiday). Eat streat was nice, but we only sampled ice cream as it was smoking hot that day. Too hot to play at the park-the slides were scalding hot. The lake was, well, lets just say we are spoiled at home with beautiful lakes. The damper for me was the three trillion ducks floating in the bay near the float plane docks, their sludgy, slippery green goo washing up along the boardwalk.
Been there, done that…Onward now, we head to Hobbiton to see where Frodo lived.