Rotorua ...... it's beautiful, hot and it stinks.

Rotorua Travel Blog

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Karangahake walk 2

We left at 7:15am from Whitianga to Rotorua. I've been really looking forward to go to Rotorua. This place is the centre of Maori culture in New Zealand. Before we arrived in Rotorua, we visited the Karangahake scenic reserve and tunnel walk. This was a really nice walk. We crossed two swing bridges and went through a one kilometre long railway tunnel. This tunnel was pitch dark so it took us a while to go through this tunnel (you're not allowed to use a torch or any other lights). Really a lot of fun. After the walk we went to Matamata, also called Hobbiton.

Luging is fun!
This is the place that Peter Jackson used to shoot the Hobbiton village scenes for his movie Lord of the Rings. We didn't go to the actual site where the scenes were shot.

There are some interesting activities to do before you'll reach Rotorua. One of them is called Zorbing. This is where you position yourself inside a huge plastic ball and get pushed off a hill. It sounds really exciting but I didn't do it because in my opinion, the price/fun trade-off isn't good. Several backpackers on the Kiwibus have done it and said the ride was really short. It didn't feel that fast according to them.

Instead of zorbing, I went on the Gondola to get a nice view of Rotorua. In all honesty, the view of the city isn't that good. Not spectacular or scenic at all. However, there is an activity on the hill that appealed to me.

Streets of Rotorua
World's first luge is built on this top. We got a really good discount for luging because we're travelling on the Kiwibus. Luging is where you drive a cart racing down a hill on a winding track. The advanced track is the fastest track but short. The beginners track is for siteseeing. The intermediate is a mixture of both and very long. Luging is fun!

After the activities we went to the Base hostel in Rotorua. Really good, nice showers and a hot pool. The city Rotorua smells weird because of all the sulphure and methane in the air caused by geothermal activities such as geysers, hot pools and boiling mud pools. It's an awesome sight to see steam coming out under the streets. In Rotorua, we visited the Tamaki Maori Village. We did a guided tour called the "Realm of Tane". Nice tour where you will get to learn a little bit about the history, culture and customs of the Maori people in the region.

Maori challenge
At the end of the tour the guide asked us questions about what has been told during the tour. Geek as I am I pretty much knew all the answers to the questions. I won a genuine Moari necklace. :D

That night we went to a Maori concert and buffet. The performers showed us a Maori challenge (which determines if a visitor comes as a friend or foe), Poi dance, Maori weapons and of course the haka. Really nice. Later we went to the buffet to eat a traditionally prepared Maori meal (hangi). Chicken, stuffings, seafood, potatoes, kumari (sweet potatoes), salad, dessert. Really great. The night ended with some Maori songs (Waiata). The whole Maori experience is quite expensive but it's totally worth every penny.

Rotorua is a really nice city. Lots of geothermal activities and a great place to get in touch with Maori culture and history and of course luging!

Next destination: Waitomo

pinkpeardrops says:
Hey, how much was the Maori experience and who did you book it with? :)
Posted on: Mar 18, 2012
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Karangahake walk 2
Karangahake walk 2
Luging is fun!
Luging is fun!
Streets of Rotorua
Streets of Rotorua
Maori challenge
Maori challenge
Poi dance
Poi dance
View of Rotorua
View of Rotorua
Hangi
Hangi
Poi dance 2
Poi dance 2
Tunnel walk
Tunnel walk
Karangahake walk
Karangahake walk
Hobbiton
Hobbiton
Rotorua
photo by: Vanessa_Mun_Yee