Who doesn’t want to get away from it all now and then?
Even if you had a family holiday or boys’ bach weekend this past summer, sometimes winter’s even better for an escape from the endless grey, chilly days. If you’re ready for another break, come get lost and found in Rotorua.
Get lost, we mean it!Here’s the perfect way to set the tone for this holiday: head to the amazing aMAZEme (pictured at top) and try to find your way to the centre of the living maze. Constructed from an immaculately pruned, 1.8-metre-high escallonia hedge, the 1.4km-long maze contains one-way doors, dead ends and trick openings that may or may not help you find your way. Lose yourself (and/or the kids) in the endless spirals.
Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy afterwards, and there are lawn games, McGregor’s Garden and a small-animal petting area too, for everyone’s delight.
Find yourself in another galaxy
Get lost in a cave and find yourself among thousands of glow worms, the highlight of any evening and as breath-taking as our starry skies. There are a few ways to find these fascinating creatures. One way is on the water as you’re guided across one of our lakes to the hidden caves. Two local companies know the way – you just choose your vessel: paddle board (SUP), kayak or Canadian canoe.
Paddle Board Rotorua options include SUPs and kayaks (above). Wetsuits and water shoes are offered to keep you warm on their SUP tours during the cooler months.
River Rats runs kayak tours, and Waimarino Kayak Tours offers both kayak and Canadian canoe tours.
If you’re more comfortable with feet on terra firma, a walking tour with Real Rotorua will take you to glow worms and waterfalls in the bush.
Another place that will look, feel and sound completely alien is Waimangu Volcanic Valley (above). Although Waimangu is the world’s youngest geothermal system, having been created in 1886 when Mt Tarawera erupted, the vast steaming, bubbling, plopping, spouting and hissing landscape looks like an ancient faraway place from the Jurassic period.
Zip or slip into the unknown
A perfect way to dump the winter doldrums is to get the heart racing with a bit of thrill-inducing ziplining. Rotorua Canopy Tours’ mind-blowing Ultimate eco-tour takes you into an ancient forest and possibly out of your comfort zone. To keep you from losing your way, you and your guides will harness up and clip onto 2.5 kilometres of zipline wire that will have you soaring across a fern-filled valley. You’ll also traverse a cliff-top walkway 50 metres up, cross swing bridges (above), ascend suspended spiral staircases, and finish with a controlled descent from a towering tree down to the forest floor. Along the way, your knowledgeable guides will provide fascinating commentary about the history, ecology and birdlife of this area.
Closer to civilisation, our beautiful Whakarewarewa Forest is just minutes away from the city centre, yet you’ll feel ages away. It’s arguably one of our best assets, providing peace and tranquillity the moment you set foot (or bike, stroller, pushchair, etc.) under the canopy of giant California redwoods. Take in the natural beauty, admire the flora and fauna, and enjoy the cool, fresh air. Well-signed tracks of varying lengths allow you to spend an hour or whole day here and it won’t cost you a thing.
For yet another way to find yourself in nature, book a personalised, authentic eco-tourism experience to the incredible Whirinaki Forest with Foris Eco-Tours. Breathing in the pure air here is the first thing you’ll appreciate, followed by seeing ancient trees standing 60 metres high and hearing rare birds calling overhead in a unique rainforest that’s barely changed since dinosaurs roamed under the canopy.
Find yourself in the lap of luxury
The best way to finish your lost and found holiday is to find your centre with the help of a bit of personal pampering. A rejuvenating massage, mud wrap, facial or several other spa treatments at the world-renowned Polynesian Spa (above) is just what you need. Plan to arrive early as they’ll encourage you to prepare your mind, body and skin first with a relaxing soak in one of the hot pools overlooking Lake Rotorua. Tired muscles, aches and pains? The slightly acidic Priest Spring waters will help. To treat your skin, soak in the Rachel Spring. And don’t miss out on the cold plunge pool for an exhilarating wake-up call!