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 11am........like 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 :-)