New Zealand Days 1-2: Rotorua

We’ve more or less settled into our new home so I’ve finally got the time to start on chronicling our New Zealand holidays.  The trip stretched over 11 days and we visited both the North and South Islands.

Our vacation commenced with an overnight flight with SQ, which was unfortunately delayed for 3 hours. Upon arrival in Auckland, we made a beeline for….Sim Cards with data! We made the mistake of purchasing at Vodafone’s counter at the duty-free area before existing the arrival hall.  There’s no need to rush as there’re plenty of options at the public areas after you collect your baggage.

Boarded the bus for a 3 hour drive to Rotorua, a town known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was the smell! The air had a faint odour of rotting eggs. This is attributed hydrogen sulphide emissions from the geysers and mud pools. Not to worry! You’ll get used to the smell and won’t be bothered by it after a couple of hours. Especially when you’re busy sight-seeing~

We checked in at Distinction Rotorua, supposedly a 4-star hotel, but the rooms look like they could do with some renovations. It was getting late so we had to postpone all sight-seeing plans to the next day. Had a simple dinner and went to bed early we had to set off at 7.30am tomorrow.

The next morning, we took a Gondola Ride up Mount Ngongotaha for a champagne breakfast at Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar, amidst the panoramic views of Rotorua. Love their Mushrooms with Cream and Grilled Lemon Chicken! Hubby also tried the Luge, a 2km long gravity ride on a cart. Kids can participate too!

The second destination was Agrodome, a 350-acre working farm where we watch a Farm Show (be quick to volunteer for the if you are keen in the lamb feeding segment) and Sheepdog Herding Demonstration. There are also quite a number of other animals such as cows, goats and rabbits for viewing. Don’t forget to check out the souvenir shop, brimming with incredibly cute stuff toys that will melt your heart.

We strolled through Rainbow Springs Nature Park for 1-hour guided tour, where we learnt New Zealand’s native birds, reptiles and trout. Here you’ll get to see New Zealand’s icon, the Kiwi, but no pictures of the endangered nocturnal bird is allowed.

This is a Kea, an endangered alpine parrot with the intelligence of a 4 year old child. This inquisitive breed has a reputation of wreaking things with their strong beaks, for example, ripping out rubber sealing from cars. This lady here is very noisy and we were told she has already killed two males that were introduced for mating. Wow!

We proceeded to Te Puia, home to the many attractions. The Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley is close to a zone of active volcanoes. Its ground is heated by molten rock beneath the surface. In this valley, there are about 400 pools and 65 geyser vents.

The famous Pohutu Geyser, which erupts once or twice every hour.

Pool of boiling hot water

Boiling mud, rich in minerals. You can get mud masks in many Rotorua stores that detoxify and purify the skin.

At Te Puia, you can also experience Maori architecture, crafts and culture.

We concluded the day with a Hangi dinner buffet and Maori Performance at the hotel. What an eventful day!

Travelling in NZ is not cheap, we spent approximately 5.5k per person, so do consider booking your flights and hotels via coupon deals websites. Snag a good deal with the upcoming Shopback 12.12 Sales and Cyber Monday Sales. For those who are not familiar with these bargain events, they are essentially 2 days of attractive discounts. Read here to find out more.

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