I have always been fond of Rotorua, it’s so unique like no other place on earth. With strong ties to the culture of New Zealand and so many interesting things to see and do. This area is not only famous for its geothermal activity including mud pools, geysers and hot pools, it is also a hub for Maori culture with the Buried Village, a must stop for all tourists!
Between Taupo and Rotorua is the first stop you need to have a look at, it’s called Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. It is something like you have never seen before! There are a range of different pools with such bright intriguing colours. It is a little on the expensive side ($32.50NZD) but in my opinion if you want to go to somewhere to see a geyser and the geothermal pools, then I recommend this place because it has it all, it is absolutely beautiful! It is recommended on Trip Advisor as one of the ’20 most surreal places in the world’, that is an impressive title! If you follow the geothermal highway you will see lots of attractions but you will have to pay for most of them, if not all. There is also a giant Redwood forest which has some lovely walks and is totally free, great to visit on a nice day. There is also markets in the park by the lake and a night market which is held on a Thursday night from 5pm.
There are 3 parts of the park in Waiotapu. I recommend you do the whole thing which is about an hour and a half to walk it. It is not hard walking at all and you get to see the most beautiful pools. The geyser blows at 10.15am but it is advised you get there a bit earlier because it can be packed! In the summer months it can be very hot and there isn’t much shade, so be mindful of that. Just before you get there, there are free hot pools you can dunk yourself into. As it was around 30 degrees the day we went I did not fancy hopping into one of those at that point! The pools are on either side of the road and it is very warm!
*About 5 minutes down the road there is a free hot pool under the bridge which you can swim in. It’s a great local spot so be sure to stop there!
There is a park where you can also have a dunk in some natural hot pools if you wish! The park is called Kuirau Park. Don’t go here when it’s dark because it can be a bit dodgy. If you don’t want to spend the cash on Waiotapu then head here to see some geothermal pools! I also have heard that the Polynesian spa is supposed to be a good day out. This place has 26 different pools you can choose from, from public to private and adult only pools! Cost varies so best to check their website and see what deals you would like.
We stayed in a DOC campsite as our plan for our North Island adventure was to experience nature by camping everywhere. It was the most picturesque campground called Lake Okareka Campsite which was about 15 minutes out of the centre of Rotorua. We pitched our tent on the grass about 3 meters from the water. It was so beautiful to open our tent in the morning and have the beautiful view of the lake and the mountains rising above you. This campsite was one of the best we stayed at on our trip! There are two toilets, a sink and a bench. All together there are 30 sites and it’s decided on a first come, first served basis. The campsite cost $10 a night per adult which is a bit pricey but the volunteers keep the place immaculate and it really is a great location. You don’t need a shower, just jump in the lake! One with nature…
If you are heading to New Zealand do yourself a favour and put Rotorua on the list of places to see. If you are looking for DOC campsites then head to their website here. If you want great deals on hotels check out Agoda, I highly recommend them! If you need flights to New Zealand, compare prices with Skyscanner and read my blog on ‘How to get the cheapest flight’! Hope you enjoyed reading this little piece on Rotorua!