The Road to Rotorua

Being a hydrogeologist as my day job, Rotorua was on the must see for me, although I was not looking forward to the sulphur smell. Departing Auckland early (we had to pay for parking from 8am) we made our way south towards Rotorua which we spread out over a day and a bit to fit in a few sites along the way (scroll to the bottom to follow our journey), however Rotorua is only a 3 hour drive direct from Auckland.

Karangahake Gorge

After a pitstop in Paeroa to pick up lunch from the bakery, also home of L & P, we made it to Karangahake Gorge. This is a a relatively flat 2.5 km loop around a river gorge with a 1 km section counting through the mountain in a railway tunnel; we did the Rail Tunnel Loop, there are other longer hikes.

After the hike we pulled out our rolls from the bakery, and had lunch overlooking Ohinemuri River. There’s basic facilities and picnic area at the carpark for convenience.

Blue Springs

New Zealand is renowned for its clear waterways, and no where comes close to those at Blue Springs. Access to Blue Springs can either be a via a 10 km return hike along the Te Waihou Walkway or the more friendly half hour return walk from Leslie Road. We took the latter.

Do allow additional time to visit as watching the greenery sway with the currents is mesmerising and keep your eyes peeled for trout.

Rotorua Lake Front

The first stop in Rotorua was the AMAZING Patricks Boutique Bakery for lunch (the chicken pie was the best, and the baguettes are tasty!) overlooking the lakefront and various steaming locations in between.

Kuirau Park

Kuirau Park is located in the centre of Rotorua and gives you a quick glimpse of what the town is reknowned for. Although not as fancy as the numerous geothermal parks around town it is free.

Redwood Treewalk

Just outside of Rotorua is the Redwood Treewalk, which is an overhead series of walkways through the tall redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest; 20 m above ground. A ticket will cover you for both day and night access to the walkways, however we went just before sunset to see the trees from below prior to doing the overhead walkways at night guided by fairy lights and lanterns.

We did try to book into the geothermal pools at the Polynesian Spa, which are meant to be some of the best in New Zealand, however we left it to the day of which was too late. So if you are wanting this experience, book well in advance of your trip. I wasn’t too fussed as I’m not a huge fan of hot pools (I can’t put my finger on why) and we had a private geothermal tub when we got to Lake Taupo.

The Driving route