Wellington to Rotorua - Top things to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Our New Zealand road trip series continues with another little section from our journey, Wellington to Rotorua. The transition from South Island to North Island saw us take a three hour cruise from Picton to Wellington. Taking the cruise allowed us to have a little break from all the driving and enjoy the beautiful views that were on offer during our time on the water. 

Upon reaching Wellington, the reality of being back in a very urban setting hit quickly as we faced a little trouble navigating through the CBD. At just a glance, I quickly realised that Wellington bore a lot of resemblance to Melbourne, a city I adore. So what can you do in Wellington? Loads!

1. What to see:
A classic tourist attraction, the Te Papa Museum has a lot on offer. I know museums don't always scream fun but if nothing else, visit Te Papa to catch a good look of the colossal squid it houses. Definitely not a sight for the faint hearted. Aside from this, strolling around the Cuba Street was also an excellent way to soak in the charming bohemian atmosphere that seemed embedded into Wellington. We also paid visit to the harbour during our exploring although it certainly doesn't come close to Sydney's harbour, all prejudice aside. 

2. What to eat:
Ready to explore Wellington and take in all the city had to offer, we were quick to spot a lovely crepe vendor on the side of the road. We indulged in crepes filled with whipped cream, peanut butter, chocolate, bananas and strawberries. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. So good!

After a quick one day rest in Wellington, we jumped back onto the road and tucked into New Zelanad's North Island. The drive is around 6 hours but we didn't take many stops since the drive from Wellington to Rotorua was not as incredibly beautiful as the scenery we had encountered earlier on however, the generally quiet road and lush farms kept a pleasant company. For us, Rotorua was somewhat like the Queenstown of the North, with lots of activities and adventures on offer. Be aware though that as a city itself, it isn't beautiful or charming but it does provide the amazing opportunity to witness Maori culture up close as well as see geothermal activity varying from geysers to bubling mud pools to vast array of colourful formations. Here are all the things we tried out:

What to visit:
1. Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland
Possibly one of the craziest landscapes I have been blessed to witness, the geothermal park in Rotorua felt otherworldly. Pools of colour surrounded by erupting steam and rocky terrain made for a unique experience and if this doesn't sound unique enough, we assure you that the consistent smell of rotten eggs in the background made it hard to find anything quite like this space. Luckily for us there weren't very many tourists and often we would find ourselves alone by one bright pool or the other trying to not breathe in too much of the stench whilst capturing the beauty of Wai-o-tapu. 

2. Whakarewarewa & Ohinemutu
Continuing on with this theme of geothermal activity, we stopped by Whakarewarewa, the only living Maori Geothermal village. The tour we undertook here allowed us to get right into the village's way of life, including a traditional dance performance! Although there are several other options such as the Mitai village, we chose Whakarewarewa since its not just a show put on for tourists but they actually still live the traditional way and use the geothermal energy to cook and clean. We could see kids diving into hot pools to try and find gold coins that tourists would often fling for them. I wonder how they feel allowing guests to walk through their home everyday.  Prior to our visit to Whakarewarewa, we stopped by the Ohinemutu village as well. It  was quite peaceful to wander around and get a look of the Maori architecture whilst strolling through the cemetery it entailed.

3. Lake Taupo
After visiting the surreal looking lakes in NZ's South Island, stopping by lake Taupo on the way to Rotorua allowed us to put our feet up for a little while without feeling like we are going to pollute the beauty of the lake. Sitting under the warm sunshine with our feet nestled in the cool water was the perfect way to relax.

4. Redwood Forest
As I mentioned earlier, the parallels I draw between Queenstown and Rotorua come from the variety of activities we took part in here. One of the more relatively passive experiences we undertook was a stroll in the Redwood Forest not far from where we stayed. Walking about the forest surrounded by sky high trees and lush greenery was peaceful and humbling. 

5. Mountain Biking
Okay, let me begin by saying that I expected mountain biking to be like cycling except in slightly rocky terrain. What I did not expect was a struggle to make our way through incredibly narrow pathways on a mountain and panicking because we thought we wouldn't make it back in time. To say I underestimated how hard it is to mountain bike would be an understatement after falling quite dramatically. I was thrown off my bike and conjured an image of Superman whilst  I was midair and then hit my head(thank god for helmets) on a tree trunk. After getting up all covered in dust, all our focus was on getting the hell out of that never ending path. As a consequence, I paid no attention to the fact that I was apparently mountain biking all wrong and ended up not being able to sit for two days due to a super sore ass. 

6. Zorbing
We decided to do Zorbing since it was very quintessential New Zealand thing to do and very hard to come by anywhere else. Super fun and my only regret being not able to do it multiple times because of how expensive it was.

7.  Waikete Valley Themal Pools
Possibly one of my most enjoyable moments on this leg of the trip was our visit to the thermal pools. Following our painful mountain adventure, we caught up on some much needed recuperation at the Waikete Valley thermal pools. The pools are secluded in the middle of farms and vegetation and offer beautiful public pools with varying temperatures to suit everyone.

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  1. Looks amazing, I always wanted to visit New Zealand!
    Hope you had fun!


    1. Yep a beauuutiful place ! Plan the trip ASAP!