Mr. Selfish and I spent two nights in Rotorua, which is surprisingly a large tourist attraction in New Zealand. It may have been because we visited during a three week school holiday but it was swarming with families from other parts of NZ. In any case, although Rotorua is quite touristy, it has a lot to offer, and I don’t regret spending two nights there.
Zorbing: Put Me In a Large Hamster Ball Please
NZ is known for its fair share of thrill seeking. It is of course where bungee jumping was invented, and although lesser known, it is also where Zorbing was invented. Zorbing is basically rolling down a hill in a huge plastic hamster ball.
There are many options for Zorbing but me and Mr. Selfish both opted for the unharnessed zigzag path. The only issue with the zigzag path is that the ball is filled with water. Luckily, it was warm water since it was winter time.
It was definitely a good time. I was thrown all over the place as the ball made its way down the zigzag hilly path. My only advice is to not scream too much since you may end up with a mouth full of warm Zorbing water. Ewwwww.
Other than Zorbing, Mr. Selfish and I spent most of our time in Rotorua bushwalking. We found three different areas for hiking: (1) the Redwoods, (2) the Green and Blue Lakes, and (3) the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
A Walk through the Redwoods (Not in California)
In the early 1900’s, the Kiwis decided to plant a variety of trees in Whakarewarewa Forest to see what could grow for timber. They planted a few redwoods that really took a liking to the climate. Since Mr. Selfish and I are moving to San Francisco very soon, we decided that it would be fun to check out the redwoods in Rotorua.
We took the green trail, which took less than an hour and a half. It was an easy and peaceful walk. We were primarily trying to kill some time in the morning until the sunshine came out in the afternoon, and it served that purpose. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve actually been to the redwoods in California.
Skimming the Surface of the Blue and Green Lakes
We then took a short detour to see the Blue Lake (Tikitapu) and Green Lake (Rotokakahi).
Although the lakes didn’t look like their namesake colors, they were still pretty. The Green Lake is privately Maori owned, so you can’t really walk around it. You can walk and partake in water sports in the Blue Lake. When we were there, the weather was still rather gloomy so we just walked around a bit.
The Best Hike in Rotorua: Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Mr. Selfish and I waited all day for the sun to come out, and we were indeed fortunate that it came out in full blast while we were at the Waimangu Volcanic Valley for its geothermal walk. Although it cost $35 NZ per person to hike Waimangu, it was worth the cost of admission.
Prior to 1886, the Waimangu area was primarily sheep land. Then in 1886, a slew of volcanic activity occurred, and Echo Crater, among others, was formed.
In 1904, as tourists were taking pictures of Echo Valley, Waimangu Geyser went off and they were killed. Apparently, they were warned to stay on the path and they had strayed off.
Mr. Selfish and I took the Mount Haszard Hiking Trail, and we had it all to ourselves. It was surreal seeing all of the geothermal activity, and the sulfur smell was quite strong.
The end of the trail was Lake Rotomahana, which had a cute little bird watching area. As part of the cost of admission, you can take a bus back to the car park, for which we opted since it was getting dark.
Although Waimangu had a steep admission cost and the two other hikes we found were free in Rotorua, Waimangu was still by far the most worthwhile. I had never seen landscape that was so otherworldly albeit a bit stinky.
I highly recommend stopping in Rotorua for the Zorbing and the Waimangu Volcanic Valley!