Rotorua is a crazy place. It has a lot going for it. There are 16 beautiful lakes in the area perfect for swimming, fishing and boating. 35% of the population are of Mauri descent, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the Maori culture (we chose to do the Mitai Cultural Performance which surprisingly didn’t feel that touristy at all, was incredibly educational and a really fantastic evening). You really couldn’t get bored here.
But the main thing about Rotorua is that it’s a geothermal paradise. When you first drive into town you can’t help but notice the strong smell of sulphur. Driving through the center of town you will see a little city park, normal right? Except this one is sitting on active geothermal land meaning there is boiling mud, hot pools where you can soak your feet and others that you can’t go near because they go up to 100 degrees Celsius. There are thermal springs and mud pools where you can pay to sit and relax for the day or you can choose to take a hike around one of the many thermal parks in the area (we choose Waitapu and loved it).
Sometime in between all of this we did a short scenic drive towards Lake Tarawera. At one of the car parks for this lake is The Landing Café where they sell food, drinks and ice cream. If you take one of the tables outside you can watch as a steady stream of boats arrive at the dock to either be put into the water or taken out of the water. Its amazing how time passes while you watch this activity. There are drivers who know exactly what they are doing and others that seem to have no clue and take 4, 5 even 6 tries to back the boat into the water – quite entertaining! If you get bored of watching them of course you have the scenery which, in true New Zealand style, is stunning. There is a volcano in the background, the bright blue waters of the lake and the electric green tree covered hills surrounding it.
It was too hot today for a hot chocolate so I tried, for the first time ever I believe, an iced chocolate. I didn’t think you would mind since it is really the similar idea to a hot chocolate, just one you have left to cool down. I realized after I got mine though that it is a little different because this iced chocolate is made up of chocolate, milk and icecream, but it was great for an afternoon on the beach.
Verdict: Really nice break in the middle of a busy afternoon and a beautiful drive to get to. The Landing Café, Rd 5 Tarawera Road, Lake Tarawera, Rotorua