Rotorua ...... it's beautiful, hot and it stinks.
Rotorua Travel Blog› entry 7 of 18 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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