Mid-North Island of New Zealand by Angela Galvin

We recently returned from a trip to the North Island of New Zealand with two of our adult children 18 and 22 and our three younger sons 16, 12 and 9.

We based ourselves in Rotorua for two weeks and from there did day trips out and about. Rotorua is a Geothermal area bubbling mud springs, geysers, volcanic crater lakes (44 of them). Our accommodation was on the South Western side of Lake Rotorua so no smell – except very early in the morning if it was cold but at worst it was just a whiff now and again.

To take full advantage of the geo thermal wonder of the area we went to Waimangu Thermal Valley – and walked along the trails past the largest hot water spring in the world (Frying Pan Lake) bubbling mud pools and sulphurous streams to Lake Rotomahana which was formed when Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886.

We took an amazing cruise across the Lake and aw the geysers, hot water pouring out of the walls of the lake side cliffs and just the most stunning scenery.

One of the best decisions we made was to take advantage of the Triple Experience ticket – For about $1100 Australian (don’t forget there were 7 of us) we got entry tickets to Te Puia for the Te Po (the night experience) we had a guided tour of the thermal area, saw a live Kiwi, were entertained by Maori dancers and singers with the girls learning a traditional dance and the boys learning the Haka.

Then it was a traditional Hungi meal – with a great wine selection (you know I had mention alcohol somewhere in there.) At 9pm we were off on the “train” to the Pohutu Geyser (largest in New Zealand) – to sit on the naturally steam heated terraces with hot chocolate and watch the flood lit Geyser erupt – I cannot describe just how magical this was to say it was a highlight just sounds too trite but it is something you really must do.

The second part of the ticket is entry to Hobbiton – yes the Lord of the Rings movie set built in the middle of a sheep paddock – about an hour’s drive from Rotorua just outside Matemate. The gardens were gorgeous and the set itself is so “other worldly”. The brewed on site beer (seeing a pattern yet?) was fantastic and we partook of it in the Green Dragon Inn – a recreation of someone’s imagination yes – but all the same a great venue.

Part three was the Waitomo Caves – the Gloworm Cave and Ruakuri cave. The Glow worm cave was fantastic and very pretty but the true majesty was in the other cave – situated on private land and established by the Black Water Rafting Company the tracks and walkways inside the cave are very easy to negotiate you can even get a wheelchair in there – the formations are very beautiful. The drive home was spectacular and along the banks of Lake Maraeti there is a walkway that leads to the top of the cliff – stop and walk up the view is AWESOME – the lake and surrounding mountains.

All in all it was an amazing few weeks and we thank Joanne and the Team at Maverick Travel for their expertise and insights.