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Destinations - Rotorua

Rotorua Mud poolsNew Zealand is a land of wonderful scenery, mud pools, geysers and hot springs and - right at the centre of the North Island - is Rotorua, a holiday-makers paradise. In fact, anyone who stays here here is likely to experience a geothermal hot tub at some point. The Māori culture can be experienced here first hand in the form of traditional dances, one of these being the haka - made famous by the country's rugby players - and some delightfully traditional food that will tempt the palate.

See and hear in Rotorua
The main revenue here is derived from the one of the globe's largest forests, a man made plantation of pine trees, which has been situated here for decades. From these trees, paper and wood pulp are produced and exported all round the world.

Thermal Geysers, RotoruaThe sights and sounds of the islands, and this includes the geysers that shoot up into the air to more than twenty metres, make it a perfect place to relax and unwind. These, along with the volcanic landscape, also make this place a photographer's dream. There are not many normal trees here, apart from the plantation, just those hardy enough to take the punishment of the sulphur fumes and heat being produced all the time.

The town itself is a draw for tourists with buildings like the old bathhouse to visit. If you want to sample this kind of treatment, try the Polynesian Spa for a more up-to-date encounter. It has around thirty five hot mineral ponds, said to cure many different illnesses, with the most common treatments being for arthritis and rheumatism of course. Choose from alkaline and acidic waters depending on what the ailment actually is.

Bath House, RotoruaThe old Tudor-style bathhouse was opened in 1908 in an area that is now called Government Gardens. It closed in 1966 and is now the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. It houses some rather interesting photos of days gone by when the traditional bathhouse was a social meeting place. There are some sensational carvings of figurines, greenstone weapons, and bargeboards among others.
A few minutes from the centre of town, and worth a visit, is the Mitai Māori Village, where you can enjoy an authentic cultural experience including story telling, song and dance, weapons and war canoe demonstrations, and to cap it off, a traditional hangi (earth-oven) meal.

Ohinemutu village, RotoruaThe lake at Rotorua is where great boat trips take place. From the Lakefront jetty, visit Mokoia Island by paddle steamer or catamaran to see the only bird sanctuary situated on the interior of New Zealand. Also on the island lies a great example of an ancient Māori village, called Ohinemutu. Don't forget to ask the locals about the famous love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai for an interesting chat or just to hear the great accent that they have.

Alongside the town are situated two villages which date back to the late nineteenth century, one to the north and one in the south. These are certainly well worth a visit. Those who like things a little more organized can try one of the many bus tours that go within a seven kilometre radius of the town or, for the energetic, take a hire bike and pedal the same route.

Sky Swing and Luge, RotoruaTime for adventure
For adrenalin pumping action, try a trip to Mt Ngongotaha, eight kilometers to the northwest of the centre of town. Get a lift up the mountain for two hundred metres to get a splendid view of the area spread out below. There is a luge up here and a Sky Swing for the adventurous. For quieter pursuits, try fishing for some large rainbow trout, brook and brown trout in the pools at the foot of the mountain. In fact, since this is a conservation area, take a tour to see how they are protecting the national bird, the kiwi.

Sheepshow at the Agrodome, RotoruaNo visit to Rotorua would be complete without the ubiquitous visit to a sheep farm. The Agrodome Adventure Park hosts a forty five minute show, with sheep of course, which visitors from the world over love to come and see. Or, as is common here, try a bungy jump for heart stopping adventure or perhaps a spin in a jet boat. There are many other kinds of adventures on offer, so kids of all ages will just love this kind of experience at Agrodome.

Getting there
Rotorua is easily accessible. It is well served by transport links although having a hire car will greatly enhance the trip. Rotorua Airport is served by daily flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with the airport being only fifteen minutes driving from the city. Roads from the major cities are good; Auckland is an enjoyable three hour drive, whilst travelling from Wellington will take five to six hours. There are also regular coach services from Auckland and Wellington and other towns on North Island.

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