Rotorua: Five experiences that are WOW

By: Rachel Grunwell

You can visit Rotorua many times and always experience the fresh, fun and exciting side of this city that wow.

I visit for 48 hours and experience geothermal ground forces. On one of 18 lakes I make a paddle board. Fortunately, there was excitement with no leaks. This picky Auckland chick could also taste some epic quays. I left only wishing
I had more time at the place home to some of the best mountain biking trails in the world.

  1. Water, glowworms and wonder: Walking in the water with a Rotorua paddle board makes my heart jump. I'm on Lake Okareka, a 15-minute drive from downtown. Below is the deep blue waters. The blue sky reaches overhead. Sunlight warms my back. I breathe fresh air. Green soothing hills can be seen in each direction. There are openings to get in and out, which glow in the night with glowing worms (twilight travel is most popular). Let's take a look at rare birds. This. Is. Bliss. Each parent must bring their children with them for this purpose.

2. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley: If, like me, you are a Game of Thrones fan, you understand that similarity. . .

Lake Inferno in the Waimang volcanic valley is as icy as the eyes of white walkers. It's beautiful, it leaves you absolutely amazed.

This is Rotorua's main tourist magnet for good reason.

The valley originated in 1886 when Mt Tarawera erupted. Self-guided eco-worlds of varying lengths have unique geothermal properties. This Protected Landscape Reserve is a 20-minute drive from Rotorua. You can also
boat trip on Lake Rotomahana. It gives visitors an insight into the reserve's volcanic displays from a cool perspective.

3. Jetboat Thrills: Okay, at first I was a bit of a New Zealand Jet Crew doing this. I was a little wet, worried about walking fast and flying on the water and making a 360 degree turn. But I enjoyed this exciting jet-ski trip. It winds through the magnificent Tutukau Gorge. The walls of the canyon rise up to 50 m. The guide shared the history of the area (and a lot of laughs). He also helped us spot rare birds. I loved staying at the world famous Orakei Korako thermal sight. The bright yellow and boiling mud, pieces of geysers and silica patios are so memorable. Then there's the chance to pass The Squeeze. You walk through the knee-deep warm water toward the narrow gap at the edge of the rock, then squeeze through the gaps as the top blows in the deep thermal waters to soak them.

4. Terrace kitchens: The food here is similar to art and tastes so darn good that I almost stopped the plates. The chefs prepare fresh, seasonal, sustainable food by introducing the best local ingredients. Do you know what the epic of this place is? Very friendly staff.

So, here's what I ate: My starter is a vegan warm salad (turmeric tahini emulsion, slow-roasted eggplant, truffle butter and oyster mushrooms); my main are fish with turmeric and lemon marmalade, asparagus, fish and herb burlap, and kamokamo with butter and roasted carrots in a pan; dessert is a berry perfume (it has coconut, biscuit, berry sago, cider cake and edible flowers). The food, staff and this modern, friendly place met my frantic Auckland girl expectations.

5. Sudima Hotel Rotorua Lake: The largest hotel in town is on the edge of Lake Rotorua. A short walk from the city center, it is close to many attractions. They have Maori bread for breakfast. I made fun of four pieces. I couldn't stop, it's so good. But the cooler area here is the children's entrance area. It's so inviting with fun colorful beanbags, a giant game "connect four" and TV screens. Such adults stand just outside their knees.

The children's area at Sudim Hotel Rotorua Lake is epic…

● Find out more about Rotorua's great experiences here

● Rachel Grunwell was graciously hosted by Destination Rotorua

This feature was published by NZME, including the Bay of Plenty Times and the Herald website.

Rachel Grunwell is an award-winning journalist, columnist for the Herald Magazine and Herur + magazine. He is a well-being expert and author of the book Balance: food, health + happiness (featuring 30 global experts on how to live healthier and happier lives). Find Rachel on, Instagram @rachelgrunwell and Facebook InspiredHealthNZ

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