New Zealand: Rotorua

Rotorua, North Island – April 22 to April 24, 2017

We had a fairly easy drive along the Thermal Explorer Highway, other than some fog/geo thermal steam!  At points the visibility wasn’t that great other than seeing the herds of cows in the nearby pastures, but beyond that, it was fog.  At one point, I thought to myself this looks like a place that unicorns would live.  A minute later, I proceeded to tell Mike about the new unicorn drink at Starbucks.  The look on his face was hilarious!!  After I finished telling him about it, he said, “You know you just said all that out loud.” hahahahaha!!! 🙂  

As we couldn’t get into our house until later in the afternoon, we drove right to Skyline, where there are gondolas and luges going down a huge hill!  It was a perfect afternoon of a smooth gondola ride (the exact opposite of the one in London), a gorgeous view over Lake Rotorua, excellent luge rides (where each person could take the hill at whatever speed they were so inclined), and an ice cream snack!


Here’s me enjoying a non-swinging and peaceful ride in a gondola…

with a lovely view of Lake Rotorua.

Ready to luge!!


Here’s video of me riding the luge.  Note that Mike and the kids are already at the bottom, which is how they got the video of me! 🙂  Mike’s other videos (using the GoPro are of my back for the most part, as he got stuck behind me.)


You can see a little of Mike and G as they get ready to go down the intermediate track; L was already on his way! 🙂

While Mike and the kids were racing down the intermediate track, I took a few pictures of the view. 🙂

And then caught the three of them racing down the track!!  (If you can see G’s pink shirt, L is in front and Mike is in back of her.)


Then I snapped pictures of them coming up on the chairlift.

Right next to the ice-cream shop was a Jelly Belly shop.  We thought this portrait made of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans was quite impressive!!  Not necessarily impressive but probably tasty was the can of “beer!”

For dinner, we headed to Eat Streat, a collection of restaurants built with eco-friendliness in mind.  We checked out the options and landed at Craft Bar Kitchen (CBK) and were waited on by a recent university graduate (environmental science) from Saskatchewan!

Afterward, we walked down to the lake, which was surrounded by fencing to prevent people from slipping on the sidewalk into the lake, as it was flooded and spilling onto the sidewalk!  (According to articles we read, this was the highest the lake has been in decades due to Cyclones Debbie and Cook.)

Photobombing is always fun…especially for nine-year old boys! 🙂

On our last full day in Rotorua, we had bacon on the grill and breakfast on the patio to start the day! 🙂  

The Redwoods Treewalk was on our agenda for the day.  It was super cool and informational!  For those of you who’ve seen the newest version of “Pete’s Dragon,” it was filmed in New Zealand, and most of the forest scenes were filmed in the Redwood Forest! 🙂  (We saw the movie last summer and just watched it again the other night. We highly recommend it; it’s completely different than the original version!)

We don’t usually take pictures of restrooms, but these were pretty cool from a design perspective! 🙂


They do nighttime walks, too, and all these lanterns are lit!

So many reasons to enjoy nature!! 🙂

G wanted to do another loop of the forest but on the ground, as she’d gotten a map with a questionnaire from the visitor center that promised a reward for completing the questions.  It was great walk and fun to learn some things as we helped to find the answers to her questionnaire. (And at the end she got a lollipop!!)

While it looks like G might know what’s going on behind her, she didn’t have any idea! Photobombing is just as much fun for a 49-year old Dad! 🙂

G packed us a picnic lunch before we left in the morning, so we hung around a bit longer to enjoy our lunch and practice catching grapes out of the air.

Next, we headed to Kuirau Park (which was recommended by the house host), where there was lots of geothermal activity going on throughout the park, an amazing climbing tree, and a nice playground.  

Geothermal activity can sometimes be a bit stinky (sulfur smell).

This is the tree in which the kids were climbing!


If you listen closely, you can hear the gurgling mud!


Cool corkscrew looking seats, but they didn’t work as well as we thought they would.

That evening, we relaxed, read, drew, etc. For dinner, Mike grilled some delicious chicken honey/soy skewers on the grill that we served with jasmine rice.  (In case you didn’t notice, breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all enjoyed outside! 🙂 )  Mike, L, and G had a spa before calling it a day! 🙂

Next stop…Hamilton-Frankton.

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