Government Gardens, Rotorua
Situated at some of Rotorua's natural hot springs, the Government Gardens began in 1883 as a gift to the town from its original Maori owners. Now administered by the Rotorua District Council, the gardens include the Blue Baths, the Rotorua Museum, and some outdoor springs, in addition to the gardens.
There are so many geothermal attractions in and around Rotorua that you could easily forget to stroll around in the city which is really nice if you do not mind too much the rotten egg smell of sulphur and steam pouring out of the earth at nearly every corner, in parks, courtyards and streets.
Rotorua has an incredible lot of shops, about 250, and also really nice restaurants. Bookings for dinner are highly recommended if you want to go to a special place, otherwise you could miss out, it is always very busy, and the only alternative could be McDonald's.
It is also a town with some - I must say - most welcome rules. Dog owners, for example, are not allowed to walk their dogs in the city centre, and they should not moan about it. Had they always cleaned up after their dogs the city council would not have banned them to save tourists from stepping into the droppings. They also work hard on keeping repeat offenders with endless criminal records out of the centre.
Apart from this, Rotorua is beautiful. Especially the Government Gardens with the spectacular Bath House, the landmark of the city, reflected in a little lake at certain times of the day. This building was NZ's first investment in the tourism industry. It became a famous spa and health centre. Today it hosts Rotorua's museum, and the lawns are used for bowling.
Another fantastic historic building is the Old Post Office at the corner of Arawa and Fenton Streets. It has a great clock tower, and the clock still works but the bells have been turned off. Today the building is home of the tourist office and therefore nearly a must-see place for visitors.
Between the tourist office and the Government Gardens, on Arawa St, is a wonderful old building which is home to The Princes Gate Hotel since 1987.
What makes Rotorua special as well is that nearly every hotel and motel has its own spa and pool, heated by the hot springs and eternal steam that heats up the whole city. Not to forget the wonderful lakefront and the lake with its thousands of black swans.