ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND
Rotorua, the place of fascinating Māori culture, hot springs and boiling mud pools. No visit to New Zealand would be complete without stopping here.
The name Rotorua comes from Maori, the full name being Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe; roto means lake and rua two – Rotorua thus meaning ‘Second lake’. Kahumatamomoe was the uncle of the Maori chief Ihenga, the ancestral explorer of the Te Arawa. It was the second major lake the chief discovered, and he dedicated it to his uncle. It is the largest of a multitude found to the northeast of the city, all connected with the Rotorua Caldera and our neighbour Mount Tarawera. The name can also mean the equally appropriate ‘crater lake’.
Thermal activity is at the heart of much of Rotorua’s tourist appeal. Geysers and bubbling mud pools, hot thermal springs and the Buried Village —so named after it was buried by the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption, are all within easy reach of the Lodge. If adventure is your thing, Rotorua has many attractions to get the adrenalin flowing; everything from skydiving and luging to zorbing and one of New Zealand’s best mountain circuits. It’s also a big trout fishing area with fishing on the lakes and tributary rivers.
The spirit of Manaakitange is alive and well in the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Places like Te Puia, Mitai Village and Tamaki Village offer cultural experiences which combine dramatic performances with delicious Maori food. At Whakarewarewa you can see how early Maori used the geothermal waters of the area to cook, bathe and do washing. Enjoy the interactive Rotorua Museum, or visit Ohinemutu Village and see beautiful carved meeting houses and a Tudor style church decorated with Maori art.
The Real ‘Big Easy’
Forget New Orleans… NZ can rightly claim the ‘Big Easy’ crown for the sheer ease of travel here. This isn’t a place where you encounter many on-the-road frustrations: buses and trains run on time; roads are in good nick; ATMs proliferate; pickpockets, scam merchants and bedbug-ridden hostels are few and far between; and the food is unlikely to send you running for the nearest public toilets (usually clean and stocked with the requisite paper). And there are no snakes, and only one poisonous spider – the rare katipo, sightings of which are considered lucky. This decent nation is a place where you can relax and enjoy (rather than endure) your holiday.