Rotorua is at the heart of forestry country. Vast swathes of the Bay of Plenty region are planted in exotic pine plantations for industrial forestry. On highway 30, heading east out of town, you can visit an area that was experimentally planted in Redwoods several decades ago. This was intriguing for me because in July I had seen some mighty Redwoods in California. These NZ ones weren't so big. It was interesting to see them growing next to some of our own natives, like the Rimu in the picture here.
There are several easy trails to wander along here as well as a shop and big car park.
Information Centre Tourism Rotorua
Information Centre Tourism Rotorua is located at 67 Fenton Street on the corner of Haupapa Street and is open in summer between 8.00am and 6.00pm daily. There is also a bureau de change which opens between 8.30am and 5.30pm daily, a luggage storage area, public telephones, a café and showers. In winter the hours are 8.00am - 5.30pm. The Information Centre is also the depot for the national bus and coach services, and a regular pick up and drop off point for the tours and shuttle services operating in and around Rotorua.
Rotorua Museum is pretty, with Tudor architecture style. It is here that we could learned about Maori culture and Rotorua's history.
The same complex also houses Rachel Springs and Blue House spa.
Zorb downhill in bubble craziness.
First impressions of zorbing look rather tame. However actually doing it is quite worthwhile, and not a slow and short as it looks. You can do a dry or wet zorb. The dry one has you strapped starlike inside the zorb and you roll down the hill. They say you don't get sick as it is quite slow motion. The wet version has some water in the bottom of the inner zorb (Zorb is an inner and outer sphere) causing you to slide around as you roll down the hill. You more or less stay at the bottom, you are not strapped in for this version of the ride. Lots of screams and yells of delight and happy people. Highly recommended!
A Mud Bath at Hell's Gate
As every tourist attraction needs a superlative for marketing the one of Hell's Gate & Waiora Spa is: Rotorua's Most Active Geothermal Area.
Well, that might be it. There is really quite some noisy activity around the steaming fumeroles and boiling mud pools, but I do not think they were so violent that they became unnerving to us, as the information sheets suggested. The hot waterfall of Kakahi Falls was even quite impressive. But if you expect the spectacular colour of Wai-O-Tapu or Orakei Korako you will be disappointed. Apart from that it is Rotorua's smallest reserve. It is located east on the way to Lake Rotoiti and Whakatane.
The major colour is the grey of the rocks, behind an eternal veil of sulphurous steam, all surrounded by native bush.
A feature that clearly distinguishes Hell's Gate from the other geothermal reserves of the area are the two spa complexes where you can take a bath, even a mud bath, and get a relaxing massage. The Hell's Gate spa facilities overlook the geothermal reserve, the other spa named Wai Ora (Healthy Waters) is more private.
The benefit of the mud is multi-fold. It promotes the regeneration of skin cells, detoxifies and purifies the skin, and has anti-bacterial effects. You might know this from your skin masks at home - but at Wai Ora you get it directly where it comes from.
Admission (as Feb. 2007):
$25, children $10. - Reserve plus sulphur spa bath $35/15.
Mud packages which include general admission, mud baths, 1hr massage and more from $230, also cheaper options without massage.