When we mentioned Rotorua to New Zealanders, we were told it was very set up for tourists. They didn’t seem to mean this in the way that someone who isn’t a fan of the Las Vegas strip (say, me) might declare it “touristy.” Instead, people seemed genuinely happy that we were going to this place with attractions that are so easy for tourists to access.
… and, we thought Rotorua was great!
Here are some photos and thoughts from our three days in Rotorua.
There were lots of nifty things here, including trout, kiwi (birds, not fruit), lizards, a boat ride, and an open avery bird show.
My favorite part was seeing a kiwi waddle by us. However, the most numerous animal in the park were the trout. A sign explained that the trout aren’t actually constrained, but that they choose not to swim back to lake Rotorua because they are fed by staff and tourists. To help support their cushy lifestyle, we purchased a bag of trout food for Theo to throw into the water.
Geothermal baths! We went to the family pools together (one moderately warm large pool and two hot tubs) and I went back alone for a massage and soaks in the lakeside pools (which were pretty amazing.)
As we were warned, this and nearby parts of the town have a pretty strong sulfur scent, but we weren’t bothered. Many places in Iceland (including places with hot water in our apartment) had the same scent, so I mostly just associate sulfur with “shower”, “clean dishes,” and “green energy” now.
I think that New Zealand does parks particularly well, from ones that feel very wild to more typical city parks. In addition to the usual awesome playground, Kuirau Park had a geothermal hot water bath where you could soak your feet while looking out over a lake.
Maori arrived in New Zealand about 700 years ago, far before the Europeans, and still compose 15% of the population. This village is a reconstruction of a pre-European Maori village. The video shows Brian attempting to do the haka, a war dance.
We went to the farm show at the Agrodome, where we saw lots of sheep (pre, post, and during sheering), cow milking, and duck herding. Theo kept raising his hand to go onto the stage to help but wasn’t selected. At one point, he just made a break for the stage and that’s how he ended up watching lamb feeding up close.