Rotorua is undoubtedly a tourist mecca with everything the adrenaline junkie could ask for through to amazing forests and lakes to explore. Being honest, I was a little concerned before getting to this area that we'd go 'eek, people' and get out again as fast as possible back into the quite back of beyond. Thankfully that didn't happen and instead we spent five wonderful weeks exploring all that the area has to offer. 
We did indulge in some of the proper tourist attractions. First was an exhilarating three hours with Rotorua Canopy Tours through native forest twenty meters above the ground whizzing down zip lines and crossing really long swing bridges. Having seen one lady, well into retirement, conquer her fear of heights squealing with delight rather than fear whizzing through the trees then I can heartily recommend this experience to anyone.
After that we had an incredible few hours in Hobbiton. Literally thousands of people pass through the Hobbiton movie set tour everyday of the year and, I'm told, that it is a fast moving tour with little time to get some decent memories and images before you get moved on. With photography being my passion we opted for the evening tour, which just so happened to include an amazing hobbit feast in the Green Dragon Inn.....that was some of the most amazing food I have ever tasted....and so much of it! You'll see in the images below that we were also incredibly lucky with the evening light which showed off the place to its absolute best. I'd definitely recommend a trip here and it is certainly worth the extra cost to enjoy the relaxed tour in the evening :-).
If you have any interest at all in the wonderful world of nature then you should visit the team at Wingspan. Wingspan is New Zealands National Bird of Prey centre and they do amazing work rehabilitating and releasing birds of prey back into the wild as well as a breeding program. This is one of the few places in the world where you can see falconers at work with their afternoon display and have the chance to have a falcon land on your hand while you feed it....simply amazing and a must do.
Last proper tourist spot was the Waiotapu Thermal Reserve. There are quite a few of these kind of spots around Rotorua and we'd been to some of them in the past.....but this one was amazing and well worth the entrance fee. Again, we like to enjoy the opportunity to explore places without the crowds so opted to ignore the Lady Knox Geyser show in the morning and head through the reserve. The crowds arrived after the show at around a swarm of ants appearing in the distance, so time for us to leave!
Other than the tourist spots we enjoyed beautiful walks through forests, along lakes and through the town itself enjoying a craft beer or two with the sounds of NZ Singer/Songwriter Erin for a very enjoyable evening at the Brew Craft Beer Bar. Rotorua town also has some lovely walks that will take you alongside and through some of the areas geothermal activity.....for free!
Our last two weeks in the area were at Lake Rerewhakaaitu......I'll just say that if you are ever in Rotorua area do spend some time in this amazing idyllic location. The DOC campground on Ash Pit Road is the most beautiful spot and swimming in the lake is fantastic :-)
Our first trip into Rotorua was greeted by dramatic skies over the city centre. This is from the lake front looking back to some of the main hotels. Free parking down here means a great spot to explore the local eating establishments and craft beer pubs!
There is a very strong Maori culture in Rotorua
This amazing looking building is the Rotorua Museum. We didn't take a look around but I'm reliably informed that it is worth the entrance fee.
One of my images from an impromptu photoshoot with Erin a NZ Singer/Songwriter while she performed her set at the Brew Craft Beer and Coffee Roast Bar. Fantastic talent of original works so if you do get the chance to see her live then don't miss out!
The weather is very changeable in the area, which does give the opportunity for some very dramatic images.
This is Lake Rerewhakaaitu and this view is about five meters from where we stayed. The lake is stunning and well worth a visit and stay if you get chance so that you can explore some of the areas south of Rotorua.
Don't let a wet day deter you from getting the camera out. Getting in close to leaves and plants with rain drops on make for some beautiful pieces of art.
These conical mounds abound south of Rotorua and fascinated me. Each time we passed this one it looked different, but, on a stormy day looked menacing.
Certainly not unusual to see Black Swans in NZ, but, this is by far the cutest image of captured of one so far :-)
Lake Rerewhakaaitu on a cloudy calm day
The New Zealand Silver Fern, taking in very harsh light in the Tarawera Forest on our walk to the falls.
This torrent of water rushes from Lake Tarawera above and below ground before it bursts out of the rock falls in a sixty meter plunge before continuing its journey.
These are the spectacular Tarawera Falls which come straight out of the rock face before crashing below, The highest drop is around sixty meters!
This is the road and scenery heading towards Rotorua as seen from the top of Rainbow Mountain. As you walk up the mountain you are treated to lots of steam escaping from the side of it......probably wise not to think too hard about how much geothermal activity is going on below your feet while you are stood on top of the mountain to make that happen!
This is the beautiful New Zealand Falcon which can be seen at Wingspan National Bird of Prey centre. Wingspan is my chosen charity as they do amazing work with these and other birds of prey through breeding, rehabilitation and education programs. Please do visit their site to learn more about the charitable trust and maybe make a small donation to help them continue their work.
Final turn before getting ready to hit the lure during the falconry display at Wingspan.
Bilbo Baggins home in Hobbiton. You'll need to go on the tour to find out if there really is a home behind that door ;-)
The evening tour at Hobbiton has quite a few benefits.....and on the right day, this kind of light is a photographers dream :-)
Waiotapu Thermal Reserve......while the main crowd of tourists are watching the geyser do its thing.....definitely the most pleasant and relaxing way to enjoy this amazing thermal area. This lake is around 60m in diamater.
The classic shot from Waiotapu Thermal Reserve's Champagne Pool
Walkway at Waiotapu just above the bubbling water
Mud pools just outside the Waiotapu Thermal Reserve cause steam to constantly rise. This coupled with some bright sunlight made for a dramatic shot of the overhanging trees. I watched as tourist after tourist never once looked up to see this!
The mud pools constantly bubble and erupt mud a meter or more into the air. Capturing these eruptions at the moment makes for some amazing sculptures when frozen in time. 
Back to Top