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This is just one of the places you don’t really expect in New Zealand. This park, on a peninsula in Lake Rotorua, is situated just a block from the crowds on Fenton Street and around the Information Centre. We walked around the peninsula and enjoyed the views over the lake.
The hart of this park is a part close to the city, which we entered through gates with beautiful maori art. Here are (in summer) lots of flowerbeds, rose gardens and lawns. We have been here twice and both times there were ‘white dressed people’ playing bowls. They match perfect with this more or less typical English scene.
In the park is also The Bath House, a Tudor style building, in former days a spa resort; nowadays housing the Rotorua Museum of Art & History (www.rotoruamuseum.co.nz) with lots of maori art and highlights about the history of the town. It is an ideal starting point before exploring Rotorua.
The Blue Baths, in an art deco building, do have some renovated historic heated swimming pools, a museum and a 1930s tea room (www.bluebaths.co.nz).
Written Jun 3, 2005
Not far from Rotorua, along the way to Lake Tarawera and the Buried Village, you will pass by the Blue and Green Lakes. Well, maybe you won't just pass by, but will stop a while and enjoy!!
The Green Lake is undisturbed, as it is sacred (tapu) to the Maori people. Its Maori name is Rotokakahi because of its plentiful shellfish, and its waters flow into Lake Tarawea via Te Wairoa Falls (which you can enjoy at the Buried Village). It is known as the Green Lake because of its emerald colour when seen from the air, although you don't get that effect from ground level.
Next to the Green Lake (and in fact the first of the 2 you will see) is the Blue Lake, known in Maori as Tikitapu, or "the place where a cheif's daughter lost her greenstone treasure". It is very deep, and is actually a collapsed volcanic crater. A popular watersports spot, its shores can be quite busy and it is a favourite for families with young children. It is known as the Blue Lake because from the air it is a turquoise colour due to deposits of white rhyolite and pumice on the lake bed. Again, you don't get the effect of the colour from ground level.
Updated Mar 25, 2006
In a day of "firsts", the floatplane was fifth, but so far probably the most amazing. I would recommend it to anybody who loves flying like we do, and who would like to see a totally different perspective of the Rotorua area. The scenery really is mind-blowing and you cannot appreciate the enormity of the volcanic craters and activities until you see them from the air! Awesome!
Written Sep 15, 2004
Address: Rotorua City Lakefront
Phone: Phone: (64-7) 348 9984
Within the Orchid Gardens is New Zealand's only water organ. I have only once perviously - a very long time ago in Hamburg - seen a water organ, and am very keen to experience this.
To clarify - the music is not produced by the water, over 800 jets are choreographed to "dance" in tune to the music.
The music is lovely and the 15 minute show very well produced with sprays of water lit in various colours and producing different shapes. Very nice indeed. "First" number six.
The water organ plays once an hour on the hour every day from 09.00 until 17.00.
Written Sep 15, 2004
Address: Hinemaru Street
Phone: 07 347 6699
As we fly inland, the pilot points out the various places of interest below. There is a lot to see, but one of the things that really captures my imagination, is two lakes side by side - one green and the other blue. That is something you really wouldn't be able to see from the ground.
Written Sep 15, 2004
The hothouses in the Orchid Gardens in Hinemaru House, ensure that there are always orchids in bloom at any time of year. As well as the beautiful exotic flowers, there is a display of living reptiles and insects in the Microworld!
Written Sep 15, 2004
Address: Hinemaru Street
Phone: 07 347 6699
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.
Updated Mar 26, 2006
Address: Fairy Springs Road, Rotorua
Phone: Freephone in NZ on 0800 724626
This really is a place to go if you are interested in geothermal activity. Wai-O-Tapu - which means Sacred Waters and is only 30kms from Rotorua - has some unique features like The Lady Knox Geyser and the Champagne Pool.
But be prepared to meet loads of tourists as everybody tries to be there at 10.15am. This is the time of the guaranteed daily eruption of the Lady Knox Geyser which was discovered in 1901 by prisoners who had to clear the area. Those prisoners also found out that the geyser could be made to erupt by throwing soap into the bubbling water. By coincidence, of course. They were just washing their clothes in the hot water. Soon the place was transformed into a tourist attraction and named after the daughter of Lord Ranfurly, the 15th Governor of NZ, Lady Constance Knox.
At the start rocks had been placed around the base of the spring, and within the past 100 years silica from the eruptions built up a white cone which makes the spring look like the vent of a volcano. A ranger throws a cake of soap into this opening, and soon after the geyser erupts, the hot water reaching heights of up to 20 metres, and the eruption can last for an hour.
Whereas in Rotorua you have the rotten egg smell of sulphur in your nose everywhere Wai-O-Tapu offers the full palette of colours geothermal activity can create. The Artists's Palette displays spots of different colours and shades, depending on the minerals the water contains.
Orange: antimony sulphide
White: silicon sulphide
Green: arsenic sulphide
Red and brown: iron oxide and iron oxyhydrate
Black: sulphur and carbon
The most impressive feature is the 74°C hot Champagne Pool with green water, and striking orange rocks all around the pool. On the water surface you see big bubbles which are created by carbon dioxide. It is the biggest pool in the area. The mud pools are also fantastic.
Other formations have the promising names Devil's Home, Rainbow Crater, Thunder Crater, Devil's Ink Pots, Opal Pool and Inferno Crater.
Written Feb 7, 2007
Phone: (07) 366 6333
It is described as New Zealand's Pompeii. Whereas Pompeii, buried by an eruption of Vesuvius, was a big city, Te Wairoa was a small but growing village, being the gateway to the then famous Pink and White Terraces. The eruption of Mt. Tarawera on 10 June 1886 killed 151 people and buried Te Wairoa and two smaller villages under heavy ash and mud. Also the Pink and White Terraces disappeared. They had been a major tourist attraction at the time and also branded as one of the many eighth world wonders.
Te Wairoa, east of Rotorua, has been excavated and is now known as the Buried Village. The Maori huts are still half filled with the petrified ash and mud which makes you imagine at least a little how disastrous the forces of nature can be.
To me it is a memorial and always reminds me of the destructive potential of nature we admire so much for all its beauty. There could not be a more appropriate place for such a memorial which indeed is also a graveyard, as the volcanic plateau around Rotorua and Taupo is still active, and disaster could strike again and at a far huger scale. If Lake Taupo, just a crater lake, erupts again half of the North Island would be lost forever.
Also to Maori Te Wairoa has immense historical, cultural and spiritual value. You feel it when you walk on the paths, they are surrounded by a mysterious atmosphere, but also full of peacefulness and tranquility. The trees around the excavated huts with their moss-covered rooves are tall, and give the place a fresh and cool airyness. A scenic walk leads to the Wairere Falls and the Wairoa stream.
The museum tells the story of the place and holds artifacts which were found during the excavations, and information about archaelogy and volcanology.
Entry fees (as Feb. 2007):
Adults $25, children $7, family passes available.
Written Feb 5, 2007
Address: Tarawera Rd, RD5, Rotorua
Phone: (07) 362 8287
A visit to the Agrodome in Rotorua is as touristy as it can get. But still it is great fun and I am happy that I was there for the sheep show.
I yawned over the cheap jokes of the presenter who welcomed the public in 20 languages or so, and did not tire to bore me with his endless research if perhaps someone from Myanmar or the moon was among us, as probably he can say Hello in Burmese and Moonish. And well, as you share the big hall with approximately a million people there is a chance that one of them is from another planet. Believe me, it is a very tiring introduction.
But when this is over the show is just great and worth to ignore with how many people you have to share the fun.
First 19 sheep of 19 different breeds run onto the stage and right onto their place on the podium which carries the name tags of all breeds. When they have reached their designated spot they chew on the food pellets provided in little containers and seem to be bored. Those sheep are not to be compared to the sheep that flee from you on the paddocks when stop to take a photo. Those sheep do not even mind when a bunch of farmdogs run over their backs and finally sit on them. Most action is shaking the head as if asking why they have to perform the same and same rubbish again and again... Well, they are just fantastic!
Also the sheep that comes to stage for shearing is not scared at all. Perhaps it would even extend and contract its limbs without this microphone guy touching it at its soft spots.
Then a cow appears and some tourists have the chance to milk it on stage, and at the end some lambs nearly run over the tourists who have been chosen to bottle-feed them. Absolutely cute, of course :-)
True: Although I hate such masses of people, silly comments and cheap jokes I would go there again!
If you can't get enough make the farm tour, visit the woollen mill and the shearing shed.
3 shows daily at 9.30am, 11am and 2.30pm
Rates (as Feb. 2007):
adults $22, children $11
Organic farming tour $28/13
Combo of both $45/20
Written Feb 6, 2007
Address: Western Rd, Ngongotaha, Rotorua
Phone: (07) 357 1050
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