My time in New Zealand was, honestly, unforgettable. The landscapes themselves are worth the trip. But then add to the list the super-friendly locals who are more than happy to help however they can, the endless list of amazing (thrill-seeking) activities and everything else on offer there, it’s really a country everyone has to visit at least once in their lifetime.
As someone who loves to experience everything Mother Nature has to offer, I think my stand-out favourite place in the whole of NZ is Rotorua. A city on Lake Rotorua’s southern shores, it’s located in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty Region and it’s just a four-hour bus ride from Auckland (I paid about $35 NZD for my bus trip).
While there, I took in a lot of the local attractions – the following are the ones I can’t recommend enough when you travel there yourself.
If you’re a fan of walking and hiking through breathtaking scenery, Kiurau Park is definitely for you. The many walking tracks there will take you to places that boast pretty intense geothermal activity and beautiful, steaming hot springs.
I always feel the need to take in local culture wherever I go, and an evening at Mitai Maori Village won’t just entertain but also educate about Maori customs, traditional tattooing, and more. You’ll also be treated to a (seriously delicious) authentic hangi dinner which includes lots of meats and vegetables.
Otherwise known as the Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest has a huge amount of biking trails (more than 180 kilometers in total) so you’re really spoilt for choice when you get on your bike for a ride there. Rent a bike at Waipa and explore the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop, which will take you around the whole forest and isn’t too hard of a ride.
You can’t visit New Zealand without heading out on a river raft for some adrenaline-pumping fun. Not far out of Rotorua (20 minutes’ drive) is the Kaituna River, where you’ll find a heap of different falls including Tutea Falls and Kaituna Falls – just to name a couple. The great thing is that taking a guided trip down the Kaituna River doesn’t just involve some extreme rafting; there’s also plenty of Maori history lining the gorge to take in.
One of the most interesting features you’ll find in and around Rotorua is the Orakei Korako (The Hidden Valley) Geothermal Reserve Park, which is an incredibly active geothermal area in the Taupo volcanic zone. I took the trip while I was there to check out the Ruatapu Cave and it’s definitely worth the walk to see yourself.