Rotorua is well known for its geothermal attractions. Tourists flock to this city located in central North Island to see its world famous geysers, mud pools and soak in its natural hot springs. Another attraction of Rotorua is its rich Maori culture.
Due to its geothermal activities, clouds of steam can be seen in parts of the city. Also don’t be surprised to catch a whiff of what smells like rotten eggs in the air in the city. Sometimes the smell can be overpowering but this is part and parcel of visiting Rotorua. After all, Rotorua’s nickname is City of Sulphur :).
A good place to see the wonders of geothermal activity and experience some fascinating Maori culture is Te Puia. Located in the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, this top attraction houses a myriad of geothermal wonders from sizzling mud pool to boiling hot pools and geysers.
It also offers visitors some great native bush walks, a glimpse of a traditional Māori settlement at the model Pikirangi Village and a close encounter with the endangered and shy kiwis in the Kiwi House.
Te Puia is the place to get a close view of the legendary Pohutu Geyser. This grand dame is famed for erupting to a height of 30 metres not once but 20 times a day! Alas, I didn’t manage to witness this magnificent phenomenon during my visit :(.
While in Te Puia, we also didn’t miss the opportunity to see the Maori cultural performance. The concert was very entertaining and guests were invited onstage to take part in the poi dance and haka performance. There are 3 performances daily. There is also an evening performance that includes a hangi (earth oven) dinner.
After spending close to 3.5 hours in Te Puia we headed back to the city in search for lunch at Eat Streat. While feasting on good food, our eyes also feasted on the Tesla cars on display.
From Eat Streat, we made a brief stop to the lakefront before continuing our way to the Government Gardens. This well maintained public park deserved 1 – 2 hours to explore its landscaped garden, fountains, war memorials and beautifully maintained lawns.
Not to be missed is the historical Elizabethan Tudor style building that opened in 1908 as a bath house and aptly named as Bath House. The building now houses The Rotorua Museum. Another historical building is the Mediterranean style Blue Baths. It was the first public pools to allow male and female patrons. Today it houses a heated pool, a museum and a tea house.
Ohinemutu was the day’s final stop – its a living Maori village of the Ngāti Whakaue tribe. It was late afternoon when we reached the village and school had just been dismissed. After parking our car near the cemetery, we wandered around the village and even managed to have a short chat with a few ladies in the beautifully carved Tama-te-Kapua meeting house.
It was great to be back to make some new discoveries and to reacquaint with the wonders of nature and the rich Maori culture that Rotorua is famous for.