After playing on the black sand beach at Karioitahi Beach, we headed off to Rotorua.
On my previous trip to New Zealand, our group had stopped in Tirau on our way from Auckland to Rotorua. The town has a population of 804.
On the Main Road of Tirau, there are 2 corrugated iron buildings constructed in the shapes of a sheepdog and sheep.
They are a huge tourist attraction. We stopped and availed ourselves of the public restrooms. While there, traffic on the road was constantly stopping for passersby to lean out the windows and take pictures.
On to Rotorua, known locally as RotoVegas!
Rotorua lies on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua. Rotorua is a major tourist destination. It is known for its geothermal activity and features geysers and hot mud pools. As you drive through town, there are little parks with steam venting up from the ground.
We stayed at the Novotel Rotorua Lakeside. The Novotel Rotorua Lakeside is in a different class than the Hilton Auckland but then Rotorua is in a different class than Auckland.
The Novotel is in a perfect location. Rotorua is a relatively small city and the Novotel is right in the center with a wonderful park between it and Lake Rotorua.
Across the street in the other direction in Eat Streat [not a typo] with a wide choice of restaurants.
Anything you want to do is just a few minutes away.
We started the next day with the girls rolling down Mt. Ngongotaha in ZORB's gigantic balls.
We intended to go to Te Puia, a geothermal park, and the adjoining Whakarewarewa, a Maori village. When we showed up the parking lot was full of tour buses. The earliest we could get in was the afternoon of the next day. A quick call to my friend in Auckland pointed us to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. Another serendipitous event.
Unlike the structured and busy environment at Te Puia, Waiotapu was laid back, almost feeling like it was family run. Admission was US$44 per senior.
We started with lunch at the snack bar and then started our walk with the provided map.
The Champagne Pool at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland.
The Devil's Bath at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. This pool has a strong sulfur smell and contains enough acid to slough your skin.
There is a geyser that goes off daily at 10.15 AM. We missed that.
Our last stop of the day was Skyline.
In the background is Mokoia Island in the center of Lake Rotorua. By the way, Lake Rotorua is from a volcano that erupted about 240,000 years ago. Think about how BIG that volcano was!
The next day we took a lazy morning and played in the park by Loke Rotorua.
Auckland's airport is about 2 1/2 hours away to the northwest.