North Island – Rotorua

The grey skies cleared and roads reopened, off we went to the geothermal city of Rotorua. We pit-stopped at Cathedral Cove since we didn’t get to check it out during our “confinement”.

Instagram worthy Cathedral Cove is one of the must visit sites at Coromandel. If you want to capture THE shot, be ready to go on a 1.5hr return, up and down hike along a well-paved track. Don’t worry; you will be spoiled by the spectacular ocean views along the way.

The distance from Cathedral Cove to Rotorua by car was roughly about 3hrs. A stench of rotten eggs enveloped us upon our arrival at Rotorua. Nicknamed – The Sulphur City, Rotorua undeniably lived up to all we had heard or read! If you didn’t know, it is renowned for its ever-bubbling geothermal activity, rich Māori culture, hot springs and mud pools. We were extremely thrilled to discover the spectacles of this unique place!

For starters, we did not need to travel far to any geothermal site. Kuirau Park, a public park with easy walking paths provided a remarkable introduction to Rotorua’s vigorous geothermal activity. It is located right in the City Center and it is free! There were foot-baths to soak our cold feet in too. Ahhh shiok…like Onsen 😀

The weather had pretty much dictated our activities in New Zealand so far. Showers were forecasted for the next couple of days; hence we decided to pack 3 activities in one day on the following day…(kinda ambitious tbh 😛 )

9am – Hells Gate

We selected the Tikitere Experience, which included a guided tour of the most active geothermal reserve in Southern Hemisphere, our own private mud bath and a semi-private sulphur soaking pool. The tour was interesting and educational. We certainly learnt a lot about the history, the legend and myths of this geothermal park.

To say the least, we had a ball smearing each other with mud in our private “onsen”. The smooth textured mud is said to have natural healing properties and it helps to rejuvenate the skin too! The hot sulphur pool further soothed our body with its rich minerals that left us leaving Hells Gate feeling revitalised and all ready to take on our next activity!

Tip – Be sure to set aside about 5 hrs to fully enjoy the “steamy and muddy” experience (tour + mud bath).

1pm – Whakarewarewa – The Living Māori Village

Whakarewarwa Village is home to the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people. They have been welcoming guests to their village since the early 1800s. We got to experience the traditional Hangi meal cooked from the geothermal steam vents and hot springs in the village. The taste was very “au naturel” and MSG was nowhere to be found on the plate of natural organic goodness. Well, we still much prefer our sinful Char Kway Teow or Nasi Lemak for sure!

In this authentic Māori village, we were able to observe how the residents get on with their daily activities and were entertained with traditional song and dance performed by the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people. Beyond the village, there were a few easy walking tracks with several hill top lookout points which offered great views of the village, Rotorua city and also the sight of world-famous Pōhutu geyser. It was truly a very pleasant experience!

6pm – Rotorua Night Market

Clearly, the eventful day left us feeling absolutely famished! The Rotorua Night Market which happens only every Thursday was our final destination. The otherwise sleepy Rotorua town suddenly was jolted alive by entertaining street performers and bustling food stalls. Our prefect finale – A comforting bowl of Thai soya chicken noodles infused with lemon grass and ginger! Yums!

Situated approximately 5 mins drive from downtown Rotorua is the enchanting Whakarewarewa Forest – The Redwoods which we visited on our last day in Rotorua. We decided to take on the Pohaturoa loop track, which was about 7.5km, and we were immediately in awe of the size and majesty of the Redwood trees the moment we began our hike.

The forest air was so crisp and we were literally intoxicated by the sweet fragrance of the leaves as we weaved in and out of the shady glades – Definitely not missing the haze in Singapore!

Nature is such an amazing remedy for our body and soul. If only we could have this kind of cool weather back home, we would go for long walks everyday!

Nature can do more than physicians”

Oliver Cromwell

Next – North Island Taupo

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