May North Island Tour – Rotorua

Rotorua rocks, it’s a city with so many amazing sights, one of the four spots in the world that has geysers and mud pools (meaning it’s sitting on some real hot volcanoes), redwoods, beautiful Lake Rotorua, no wonder it is the best city in New Zealand for tourists.

May 22nd, Tuesday

Although it was hard work cleaning up the PSA house, we left on time at 10am. We stopped at this Whiti Farm Park, just something to do and have the boys get out of the car but I regretted right away, it’s a zoo with animals being confined, boys loved walking around and Li loved feeding the ponies, I felt kind of sad for them so we quickly moved onto another beautiful drive from Whitianga to Rotorua. We passed Tauranga along the way, really lovely town – new and modern. Mountain roads again for 3.5 hours, windy and scary at times. Arrived in Rotorua around 5pm, loved the PSA home, great for our situation. I couldn’t believe the best accommodation we had here only cost us $49 and next time we can get unit 12 which has a fully fenced in yard! Boys were amazing for the 3.5 hour ride, no fuss at all! PSA home there was easy to set up, kitchen was closed off, bathroom was closed off. TV is on the wall, and it’s WARM!!! It’s also right off of Fenton St, close to a mall where I shopped at Countdown. Boys slept well at night, waking up only once, the room was quite warm with the heater. I found McDonald’s 24/7 free wifi and spent a few hours there planning the trip.

May 23rd, Wednesday

Stopped at i-site in the morning to purchase the slightly discounted combo tickets for Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu Volcanic Valley walking pass. I took the boat cruise in 2008 at Waimangu but not sure if we could push the stroller on the bus. We went to Te Puia fist to see the geyser and mud pool, expensive – $46 per person even though its pretty cool, it has to be the biggest tourist trap in Rotorua. Then we went for lunch at Welin’s Noodle House, afterwards boys played at the playground right by Lake Rotorua, lovely playground with amazing view. Boys saw the swans, ducks and even a helicopter taking off, they were so excited. I came up with the brilliant idea of breastfeeding them in the back of the car! We then went to the Redwoods for a lovely walk (the Redwoods is only a few kilometers from the city center and it’s free. Had a really lovely day, so lovely that we extended our stay here for one more night and push back the Napier reservation.

May 24th, Thursday

Greatest day of our trip!!! We were driving around between the Wai-O-Tapu visitor center and Lady Knox, and figured out that we should have gone to Lady Knox with our pre-paid tickets, instead we loaded and unloaded the kids for no reason. Luckily we made the 10:15am daily Lady Knox eruption…but unfortunately Lin was screaming and I had no choice but to take him back in the car. My aunt held Li they watched the geyser went from nothing to a hot fountain. After 40 minutes, I was able to go back and take some up-close pictures.

It was pretty foggy at Wai-O-Tapu, so the view wasn’t as good as we had in Sept when we were on our first trip to Rotorua as a family. My aunt and I really enjoyed it though and the boys got to walk on the path with their harness on to avoid stepping into the boiling hot thermal pools.

We then headed to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, I called ahead and asked them about using the push chair, they said it should be fine. Well it’s not, it took both of us 1.5 hours to go to Bus Stop 1, where most famous sights are. Since it’s basically the road leads to the bottom of the valley it was very steep, I wouldn’t be able to make it by myself, we both had to hold the stroller at times! Boys were so good they napped the whole way. My aunt and I were lucky to see some fantastic sites such as frying pan lake, inferno crater. The view was out of this world! Along the way, we met an Australian couple (and the only people we met), they were really concerned about how we were going back since the uphill hike will be impossible so I decided to wait for the bus, while waiting for the bus, we put the boys on the harness, and I folded the buggy for the first time. The driver helped me loading it onto the bus and a passenger carried out of the bus for us after a 10 minute drive – that was a life saver – we looked back and still got terrified by the other would-have-been disastrous plan of hiking back. I really don’t think this is suitable for young children so we have to wait a few years before we go back, definitely a must-see! Waimangu is the only eco-system resulted from a volcanic eruption, and it’s the youngest, so natural and beautiful, the scenes reminded me of Lord of the Rings…it’s that pretty.

We ended our day at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, it’s not as famous as Polynesian Spa but it’s less crowded and even more beautiful, we went there because they have a toddler’s pool where boys had loads of fun, the natural thermal spring there is at 37 degrees so pretty safe for them. Towards the end they got fussy probably because they were exhausted.

This day alone was worthwhile the whole trip, it was just amazing!

Highlights

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Wai-O-Tapu thermal Wonderland (especially Lady Knox where we had up-close with a geyser)

Redwoods

Our stay at the PSA holiday home

Playground by Lake Rotorua

In Hind Sight

Michael would have been a lot happier if we just stayed in Rotorua for a week 😛

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