New Zealand is one of the few places that offers it all. Culture, nature, adventure and bliss. So no matter your vacation preferences, you are bound to find it in New Zealand. Fortunately, there is one spot in this wondrous country that they all exist.
Rotorua has earned the unfortunate nickname of Roto-vegas but I suspect that no one who has actually been to Las Vegas calls it that. Yes, it has a lot of fun and adventure, but Vegas it is not.
Rotorua is the epicenter of Maori culture and if you are interested in learning more about these first settlers, then check out the variety of experiences in the area. We enjoyed the hangi feast and cultural performance at Mitai. The meal is cooked in the ground (similar to a luau) and the feast is just a part of the evening. The family who owns the land has created an entertaining and educational performance where you experience some Maori traditions and learn their meanings. At the end of the evening there is an option walk into the “bush” to see the glow worms putting on their nightly display.
As you travel around this northeastern part of New Zealand you soon realize that the earth is literally boiling right under your feet. As you move about you see steam escaping through cracks and crevices of the earth’s crust. In a few places you can witness even more spectacular scenes of boiling mud, pools of vibrant shades of yellow, green and orange. Wai a Tapu has the most stunning geologic oddities but Waiamangu is also impressive in its own way with a river of boiling water running through the valley. There is literally no other place on earth quite like this.
Over 100 years ago New Zealand planted about 170 species of trees to see what would best grow in this sub-tropic region. California Redwoods thrived and now you walk through a beautiful grove of 100s of the trees on the outskirts of town. Best of all, the lovely walk is free.
New Zealand likes to call itself the adventure capital of the world and within a few miles of Rotorua you can indeed experience lots of fun and adrenaline rushing experiences not limited to bungy jumping, mountain luging, whitewater rafting, swooping, shweebing, jetboating, sky diving, helicopter touring and zorbing. You could easily fill your days (and empty your wallet) with all these nearby options.
Many of these extreme sports were actually invented in New Zealand. Bungy jumping and zorbing (traveling in a giant ball down a hillside – either wet or dry) are two famous kiwi inventions.
Rotorua features a Conde Nast Top 20 Spa with the lakeside Polynesian Spa. Book any spa procedure like a hydro massage, mud bath or facial and you’ll get free entry into the deluxe thermal pools that overlook Lake Rotorua. If you desire more privacy, book the private thermal pools for 30 minutes. Another potential romantic moment would be to book a couples massage.
A new hotel has quickly emerged at Rotorua’s top pick for upscale accommodations without the sticker shock. Regent Rotorua is swanky, sophisticated, and in the optimum location one block away from the premier dining and night life district. You’ll feel glamorous just by walking into the sleek, chic lobby.
The hotel also features one of the best restaurants and wine bars in the area. So even if you aren’t lucky enough to spend the night there, pop in for a meal or drink to soak up the glamour.
The only thing not to like about Rotorua is that it is almost half way around the world.
Michael & Athena Webb are passionate world travelers, having explored over 50 countries in the past 20 years. They specialize in romantic and family getaways.
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