This Rotorua Proud feature focuses on one of our very valuable frontline staffers at the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre.
Introducing Siobhan (pronounced “Shiv-aun”) Foster, one of the travel consultants who works at both the Redwoods and Fenton Street locations of Rotorua i-SITE.
Our travel consultants work very hard helping Rotorua visitors plan their itineraries, book accommodation and activities, and offer loads of suggestions on what to see and experience while they’re here.
How long have you lived in Rotorua?
I was born and grew up in Limerick, Ireland. That is the Republic of Ireland, and has nothing to do with the UK, Monarch, etc. And no, we don’t all go around making up limericks all the time!
Fun fact: If you put a needle through Rotorua, pass it right through to the other side of the world, it would pop up in Limerick, or very close to it.
I have been in New Zealand 16 years and most of that time in Rotorua. I have travelled quite a bit around New Zealand and lived in Kerikeri and Nelson for a year or so, but I was drawn back to the North Island and Rotorua, as it is so central. It’s almost six years that I’ve been working at Rotorua i-site.
What do you love most about Rotorua and why?
My first impression of Rotorua was how light I felt walking around the place. I had a spring in my step and felt like I had come home. This intrigued me since I had never been, in this lifetime, to Rotorua. The energy in Rotorua seems to be moving all the time, with it being a volcanic area, and transient with visitors.
Do you have any hobbies or pastimes that take advantage of our beautiful region?
I love walking in the Redwoods and we are so spoilt to have it on our doorstep. I have fair skin and burn easily so I like to keep out of the sun at peak times. I have done lots of adventure stuff. The most memorable being whitewater rafting, ziplining through the Dansey Forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours, and the Redwoods Treewalk day and night experiences.
I love the Rotorua Night Market and it’s great to try out different foods. You can always bump into someone from somewhere else in the world. I like to sit and have a bite to eat, and have a random chat with a complete stranger or friend. It seems to be relatively common that people, like myself, just came for a month’s holiday and stayed longer. I can knit, sew, bake, cook, felt, crochet and spin. I love to write and make up poems (and limericks!) and have a great sense of humour. I like upcycling and hand-making things, DIY and reading.
Do you have a favourite café or restaurant in Rotorua?
Capers Café + Store is my favourite café in town. They are open late so if I have to stay in town I can pop in there after work and have a lovely pot of tea. They serve a decent size pot and they even sell Irish tea as part of their T2 collection of teas. I love Capers’ gluten-free salmon pizza (without the capers on top, thanks). They also do a fantastic apple crumble.
Hennessey’s Irish Bar makes a great pint of Guinness and seafood chowder. They know how to pull a pint and I have not had a better pint of Guinness, outside of Ireland, anywhere else. I wouldn’t dream of having Guinness out of a can!
When you have friends or family visit, what do you recommend they do while they’re here?
I like to take friends and family to places they would not go to at home, and to all my favourite places. Te Puia or Whakarewarewa Village for a taste of Māori culture and geysers. Paradise Valley Springs, and of course, I’ll take them to the hot pools. I like Waikite Valley Thermal Pools because it is secluded in nature and not crowded. Many people find the pools very energizing and great for relieving aches and pains, but these days after the pool I just want to sleep, and scratch my skin, and sit there, like a lazy lump, not saying anything, which is a rare thing indeed.