After two lockdowns, life in New Zealand has started to go back to normal. Whilst we still cannot travel internationally, we can go anywhere in NZ for a holiday. Two weeks ago, we finally did our trip out of Auckland and we headed down to Rotorua.
This trip was meant to be back in August but lockdown 2.0 happened so we had to postpone it. The wait was well worth it though because we had an amazing time and it was a break we truly needed.
Auckland to Rotorua is about a 3 hour drive. Before I got hangry, we stopped by Prof’s cafe at Woodlands Estate which is in Gordonton.
The coffee was decent and I was impressed by the food. I ordered the Portobello Stack which was their signature dish. It has Portobello mushrooms, herbed potato rostis, tomato, spinach, fried courgette, capsicum, red onion & house-made chutney with our cashew nut aioli. It’s actually vegan and it was so good.
Woodlands Estate is a NZ historical homestead and garden estate. The grounds are beautiful and you can walk through the gardens for free. I think there is a gold coin donation to go inside the homestead / museum.
I also learnt that Gordonton was previously called Hukanui which means heavy frost in Māori. Then it was renamed after John Gordon… Anyway, if you’re passing by the area and have time, I recommend checking out Woodlands Estate. Have some food at the cafe then stroll around the grounds before hitting the road again.
Before Rotorua, there was one place on my list to go to. I’ve seen the photos on Instagram and I wanted to see it myself so after brunch, we headed towards Putaruru Blue Spring, about 40mins from Rotorua.
My photos don’t do this place justice. You just have to go and see it in person. The water is so clear. It’s such a beautiful place.
The water here in Blue Spring Putaruru is so clear and pure that 60% of NZ’s bottled water comes from here. The water comes from the Mamaku Plateau where the water takes around 100 years to filter through.
To get to the Blue Spring is about a 15min walk from the carpark but there is a walkway/track you can do. The walk around takes about an hour and a half each way. I’m so glad we stopped through here because this was such a special place.
After Putaruru Blue Spring, we checked in to our hotel in Rotorua and relaxed. We didn’t really have a set itinerary during our long weekend there. We had a few places in mind but we were just seeing how we feel.
For our first night, we ended up going out for dinner at Yamato Japanese restaurant. We love Japanese food and it’s usually my go-to so when this was recommended, of course we had to check it out. The service was just okay as they were busy but the food was good. We ordered a lot and I only took a photo of our sashimi.
After dinner, we gave ourselves some time back in the hotel to digest then we checked out Redwoods Tree Walk & Nightlights. They currently have a deal on that you can do both the day and night tree walk for the price of one which is great.
I highly recommend the treewalk at night! The lights are so pretty.
I think the night time walk is more magical than the day one because of the lights and lanterns. The walk is at least 40minutes. We took our time reading the info on each platform and just enjoyed the experience which was something we haven’t done before.
I got asked on Instagram if I noticed heaps of bugs at night. I get bitten by bugs easily BUT I didn’t see any at all nor did I get bitten by one so there were no creepy crawlies when we went.
The next day was our full day in Rotorua and we decided to have a chill and relaxing day. Our first stop was Hamurana Springs Nature Reserve.
Like Blue Springs Putaruru, I saw some photos online so it went on my list of places to check out. It is a nature reserve about 30 minutes from Rotorua town and it such a beautiful place.
The water here is also crystal clear and you walk through the trails beside the river and through Redwood Grove.
At Redwood Grove, you will feel minuscule around these giant trees. After walking through the redwood trees you’ll get to a viewing platform and will be wowed by Te Puna-a-Hungurua.
The photo below doesn’t quite capture its beauty but it is unreal. The spring just below the viewing platform is about 15m deep. The water comes up from there and about 4,500,000 litres of water flows out of the spring EACH HOUR! It’s enough to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools. It’s amazing and you just have to go there and see for yourself.
This deep spring was truly a wonder of nature but it wasn’t the only awesome thing in Hamurana Springs. I didn’t take a photo or video of Dancing Sands but it’s so cool.
We loved Hamurana Springs and it was definitely a highlight. You do have to pay to enter but it’s so worth it as places like this need to be preserved and maintained.
After Hamurana Springs was Waitangi Soda Springs hot pools. You can’t really go to Rotorua and not go to at least one of the natural geothermal hot pools. This was so relaxing. It was actually nice that it rained when we were there . The cold rain was refreshing and a nice contrast to the hot water. Apparently, this place is known for its healing properties. After a soak in this pool, it felt like it. We were so zen.
This place isn’t as commercially developed like other geothermal pools in Rotorua but it’s peaceful and entry is only $10.
An hour or so after our dinner, we went out again to the last stop for the day at Secret Spot Hot Tubs.
I highly recommend going to this place. It’s been years since I last went to Rotorua and this place didn’t exist back then. I’m so glad it does now because it is a cool little place. There are 12 hot tubs and you’re surrounded by trees as it’s by the Whakarewarewa forest. You can also come here for a drink and to just dip your feet in after a long day out and about.
You get to have your own cedar hot tub when you book so it is quite private. You can chill in the tub while drinking cold beer too. The whole place was well designed. I will definitely go back here next time I’m in Rotorua. It’s another magical place.
After a restful sleep from Saturday’s relaxing activities, we woke up to a sunny day which was great. We weren’t going to leave Rotorua without doing the Redwoods Treewalk during the day so that was the first thing we did.
During the day, you see a whole different side to this place. You get a better perspective of how tall the trees are. It actually made the bridges on the treewalk feel like you weren’t up so high. It was fun.
The Whakarewarewa forest is amazing. There are plenty of walking and cycling tracks too. Even if you don’t do the tree walk (however, you really should!), I recommend just walking through it and really taking in the surrounds.
This forest gave me Folklore vibes.
Our last stop was Skyline Rotorua which is a classic tourist spot. It was a beautiful day to go up there on the gondola and the do the luge a few times.
We did the luge 5 times which was a lot of fun. Then we decided to also do the zipline. We saw quite a few people do it while we were on the lift back up.
The zipline was also so much fun. That was a great end to our long weekend trip. I honestly felt so lucky that we’re able to do this here in New Zealand.
If you haven’t been to Rotorua in a long time, I recommend going back and checking out the places we went to. I see why Rotorua is such a tourist spot. It has a great mix of relaxing and adventure activities.
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