Mountain Biking at Redwoods
About 2 km south of Rotorua on State Highway 5 is Whakarewarewa Forest which has a labyrinth of mountain bike tracks for all levels. It was my first mountain biking experience and I really enjoyed it! We hired bikes at the entrance to the forest from an outfit called Planet Bikes. They offer rentals from 2 hours ($30) to Full day ($50). You need to call them first to reserve a bike but you can pick it up from the carpark in front of the forest.
The Ronnie's Café has a nice formula, it is a very inviting breakfast self-service with loads of nice-to-see cakes, muffins and salty snacks.
The food aspect is simply great, but unfortunately it is untasty.
The store staff is not very friendly and we got the impression that the place was a bit dirty (our tea cups were not properly washed...)
Get Closer to Kiwi
I thought Rotoruas Kiwi Encounter was just superb! We visited by chance really - the weather was awful, and it is an indoors attraction, and I am so glad we decided to duck inside out of the rain instead of heading back to Auckland.
New Zealands iconic flightless bird, the Kiwi, is an endangered species. There are a few varieties, and the Brown Kiwi is only found in the North Island. The Kiwi encounter (supported by the Bank of New Zealand and public donations, but receiving no state funding) is focused on breeding programmes, public education, release schemes and generally protecting this adorable little nocturnal creature.
You are taken on a guided tour and get to see the hatchery, the nursery, a run with birds in a recontructed native habitat, and an information area. The tour guide was brilliantly informative, and we were fortunate enough to see an egg in the process of hatching (this can take up to three days) and a new chick being hand fed.
The chicks are generally self sufficient once they are born - the female bird has nothing to do with the egg once she has laid it. This is not surprising really, as the kiwi has the largest egg-to-body-size ratio, and a kiwi laying an egg is the equivalent of a human giving birth to a 34lb baby. She is probably relieved to see the back of it! The male incubates the egg, but abandons the chick once hatching takes place. In the days when kiwis numbered in their millions, this wasn't a problem, but nowadays they need all the help they can get. The birds are released in areas where predation from stoats, rats and cats is miminal.
Definitely worth a visit, I can't recommend this one enough. I have been in a couple of 'kiwi houses' and you see very little. The Kiwi Encounter is very probably your best opportunity to not only view the birds but learn a lot about them in the process.
Wai-o-tapu Thermal Area.
Wai-o-tapu is just a few more kilometres south of Rotorua than Waimangu. It has a geyser, though, it's not as good as Whakarewarewa's. It is called the Lady Knox geyser and is induced to play at 1015 daily by having soap flakes thrown into it's vent! There are some remarkably colourful pools here and plenty of boling mud. The picture shows the Champaigne Pool and the Artist's Palette (foreground).
Entrance is NZ$18.50 per adult (as at July 2004).
Museum is always an interesting place to visit and learn about the history of people, place, and culture.
The Rotorua museum is located in the Bath House building, which is very unique and wonderful. And the park around the Bath House is very nice.
The photo I place here is from: