We spent the past couple of days exploring Rotorua, and it did not disappoint! The town has a huge backpacking community with many hostels and tons of outdoor activities.
We arrived later in the evening to our hostel, where we talked to the very helpful employee at our reception desk about excursions that were must do’s for the area. From our own research, we already knew that one day we would hike the huge redwood forest here, but were open for suggestions on what to do on our other full day. We immediately were sold on a tour to Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal wonderland. We hurried off to grocery store to buy the essentials for packing lunches in our backpacks….peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have become our go-to lunches.
We woke up the next morning and boarded a shuttle that picked us up at our hostel, which took us about 30 minutes outside of the town to view some mud pools. The mud was bubbling and boiling and splattering and stinky. Let’s just say, this became a trend for the day!
We were then taken to a different site to see a geyser erupt, which was pretty cool, however not extremely natural since apparently every morning at 10:15am someone pours salt into the geyser to make it erupt. Good for touristy pics though.
At last, we loaded back up and were dropped off at the entrance of the Wai-O-Tapu park.We had the option of staying for 2 hours or closer to 5 hours, and we chose the latter thanks to an awesome tip from our hostel reception desk. She informed us that there are twin streams that run together in an area near the entrance to Wai-O-Tapu, that usually only the locals know about. The cool part is one stream is really hot, and the other is cold, so where they join together creates a steamy relaxing pool that is safe to take a dip in! We spent over an hour relaxing in the water and letting the park empty out from the morning tours before entering.
There were 25 different geothermal attractions within Wai-O-Tapu to explore and in the guide map there were explanations and the significance of each one. As we came upon each one, Jenny was responsible for reading the write-up about what we were looking at and Kerry took pics with her nice camera. Throughout the day, we were amazed at the different colors of 100° Celsius (in short, boiling) water created by reactions between the water and lots of different minerals. There were also a ton of sulfer deposits, which created quite the aroma for the entire park (in short, ew). Most of what we saw had explanations far beyond our science level comprehensions.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Wai-O-Tapu, and left in awe of what all we had seen. We had also just spent the bulk of the day walking around in the blazing sun, so we were ready for some cold brews. We had our shuttle drop us off at the store so we could buy some beer to take back to our hostel to enjoy!
The next morning we walked a couple of miles to the entrance to the Redwood forest here called Whakarewarewa Forest. Upon entering, there were magnificent Redwoods everywhere!
We decided to take one of the longer routes called the Tokorangi Pa Track, which was around 11.5km in length, with some incredible scenery and views throughout! The hike took us a little over 3 hours and we both thought that it was one of the best things we have done so far. Spending time taking in our surroundings and being immersed in nature is something that both of us truly enjoy.
Once we had finished in the forest, we still had to walk back to our hostel. By the time we were there, our legs were exhausted and we were ready to throw back a few more beers!
We had an amazing couple of very full and adventurous days here in Rotorua. We have a huge hike on Tuesday that we now feel better prepared for!
~Jenny and Kerry