We all agree, Rotorua is our favourite place on this trip so far. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the incredible things we saw so I will try to be brief and let the photos do the talking.
Our Airbnb was perfect, sitting just outside of the city but very close to most of the attractions that we wanted to do. Just on the other side of our backyard fence was a school that has 4 amazing playgrounds that we spent a lot of time at (Blake especially). He was in heaven.
The reason we came to New Zealand was because of the mountain biking in Rotorua. Every year Christian watches the Crankworx competition that takes place there. When we first arrived, before we even went to our Airbnb, we drove to the mountain to take a look. The mountain has luging, zip line and mountain biking – we were all pretty excited about our upcoming week.
On our first day we headed to the Redwood forest and we all rented bikes where they have cross country trails. We had an epic 2.5 hour ride through a very diverse forest. One hundred years ago, they planted Redwood trees from California. These trees are now incredibly large and majestic with a bike trail wiggling through it. My favourite trail was one that followed a creek through a Punga tree forest. The water in the creek was waist deep and crystal clear, coming from a natural spring I’m sure. I went for another ride on my own later in the week and decided to do the same trail again as I loved it so much. I forgot to bring my phone on this ride so I had to ask someone for the time. What luck, I ended up getting a little tour from my new friend – she showed me some other cool trails and one of them had a bubbling mud pit with a small fence around it.
Even Jaida enjoyed riding the Redwood forest.
Christian also had a chance to ride the Redwoods on his own and he had the shuttle service. He also made a friend and they rode together for a few hours. The riding there is different from what we have at home, it isn’t as steep, the terrain is less gnarly but still technical enough to be fun. He loved it.
Christian was so thrilled when he had a chance to ride the bike park where Crankworx takes place. He loved the mountain, it is very small compared to the Whistler bike park but he loved it nonetheless.
The luge track at Rotorua mountain was different from the one we have in Whistler. It was more like a paved road down the mountain with 3 different tracks to choose from. We each got our own “car” and we raced down to the bottom. Other people were passing and bumping into each other but we managed to stay safe in the madness.
Jaida has wanted to do a zip line for a very long time but she has always been too light for the minimum weight. Until Rotorua. She was thrilled to go with Christian. It was getting pretty dark so we didn’t get any photos.
Geothermal Hot Springs
Rotorua is known for it’s geothermal activity. There are so many hot pools and craters and mud pits scattered around the city. We visited the biggest area of them called Wai-O-Tapu. This place is unbelievable – it was like being on a different planet. Each feature is different – we saw a yellow lake, a huge bubbling mud pit, red crusted blue centered lake, caves with yellow walls, orange rocks, white flat beds, deep crevices and so on. AND they all stink! The kids hated it, they could barely breath, they dramatically gagged and ran past all of these features to breathe next to the trees. It was quite comical, I made them do all the loops and so I could see all of the areas because we paid $80 to get into the park! They survived 🙂
The most laughs / minute on this trip was definitely the OGO ball ride. Jaida, Blake and I got into a giant plastic ball. Warm water was added and then we started rolling down a mountain on a curvy track. I’m not sure what was so funny about it, but we laughed hysterically during the ride. We could barely see where we were going and each time we hit a corner we all flipped and flopped inside the ball. Things went sideways for a few seconds when Jaida and Blake bonked heads and she screamed. But the terror subsided and we all started laughing again. And we got it all on go pro!
I had to edit this video a little bit, I removed the 2 head bangs and subsequent terror from me!
We splurged and did the evening dinner tour at the Maroi village that was a few minutes away from our house. The dinner was fantastic, it was cooked in a large traditional oven called a hangi. We got to walk around the village and see the spring that the water we drank at dinner was bottled at, we watched the warriors paddle along their pristine creek, saw a great Maori performance and learned about their history. But our favourite part of the evening was our walk in the dark to see the glow worms. At first I thought the company had put tiny LED lights into the forest because they were too perfect, but they were indeed glow worms. It was such a delight to see them.
The Bad News
Although Rotorua was my favourite part of the trip, it was also my lowest. I had a silly little car accident, where I very slowly rolled into the car in front of us at a stop light. The guys in the car that I hit turned around and cursed at me but kept driving away. In a few minutes, they pulled over to see the damage. I pulled over behind them and apologized profusely. It turned out that their car was perfectly fine and my rental car has a little dent in it from their hitch ball. Nobody was hurt, it was all good but this little mistake cost us $3000 at the rental company. Bah – I was keeping us on budget until now.
Thank you to everyone who has commented on these blogs – it is so great to hear from you and know that someone is reading this!