Determined to dispel the smelly myths of Rotorua, Flight Centre’s Digital Marketing Executive Fran Curro lets us in on her jam-packed New Zealand adventure.
There's much more to Rotorua than geysers. After spending an amazing three days in the area, I'm out to spread the word that Rotorua is a great kiwi destination - from heart-stopping thrills to more leisurely chills, here are some of the highlights of my whirlwind trip.
The ultimate luxurious day trip, Pure Cruise, which departed from Amora Lakeside that looks like the resort scene from Dirty Dancing, took us for a slow sail to the hot pools. Some holiday-makers cast out fishing lines to catch trout, while others soaked up the sun on the deck. The cruise is ideal for a romantic getaway or a small group journey.
Wai Ora Spa won the 2010 TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award for Best Relaxation/Spa hotel and I could definitely see the reason why. The spa not only boasts an unbeatable view of the lake but also an intimate restaurant with an amazing collection of All Black jerseys and a free shuttle to anywhere in Rotorua. Enjoy a massage, stock up on local mud based beauty products or soak in the hot spa.
Te Puia Cultural Centre is worth visiting for its amazing guided tours around the geothermal geysers. I also found it to be a fantastic site for learning about Maori people and New Zealand’s heritage. Don’t miss the exclusive “Beer, Bubbles and Mussels” lunch cooked in the geothermal waters in front of your eyes.
Rotorua Museum is not your ordinary boring museum. While I was there I joined a guided tour where we visited the old Bath House, state of the art gallery and were captivated by the interactive history of the Maori people. Also take the time to catch the cinema experience and have fun learning about the city’s history.
You can’t visit Rotorua without going on the Skyline Gondola and Luge. We took the peaceful Gondola up the mountain and ventured back down with a heart racing ride on the luge. The activities are suitable for all ages and adventure levels.
Off Road NZ
Next up was a dirty day at Off Road NZ. Their monster 4x4 thrill ride, go-carting and bush safari experiences is sure to satisfy anyone’s need for speed and dirt. Put your name on the fastest or slowest list and support one of NZ’s sustainable business, “enjoy it – don’t destroy it!"
Rafting and other adventures
I summoned up the courage to brave a trip with River Rats Raft and Kayak - yep I went white water rafting. The course was grade five and featured a rather scary seven metre waterfall drop. I’ll admit there were times that the adrenalin pumped so hard that I thought I wasn't going to survive but the expert guides remained confident and kept us all feeling safe. River Rats Raft and Kayak also have a brilliant step by step photo-package that captures every minute of the heart pounding ride. Adventures for every skill level are also available.
As if white water rafting wasn’t a thrill enough, I also attended Agroadventures, an adventure park with rides like Agrojet, Shweeb, Freefall Xtreme, Bungy and Swoop. Located next to the Agrodome, NZ’s farming and agriculture wonderland, Agroadventures is guaranteed to get your heart racing.
After a big day of thrills and spills, I was in dire need of a pamper session. As such I treated myself to a private deluxe pool at the Polynesian Spa overlooking the Rotorua skyline at twilight. The relaxing ambience was exactly what I needed.
For something at a slower pace, Rainbow Springs is fantastic for families and animals lovers. See a wide range of birds and reptiles, learn about kiwi conservation, feed the local trout and get up close and personal with New Zealand’s wildlife.
Those are just some of the highlights, but trust me when I say I could keep going. As you may have realised already, my time in Rotorua was fantastic and I can't wait to head back. No matter what your interests or travel style, the city truly has something for everyone.