5 best places in Rotorua this Spring
While Rotorua may have been quietly smouldering and steaming its way through winter for the past few months, Spring has now arrived with a bang! Lambs and baby kiwi are making us swoon with their cuteness, the trees are blossoming all over the place and the local businesses are ramping up their preparations for the coming busy season. But where to go right now? Let’s find out…
Formerly known as the Rotorua Tree Trust, this park is a bit of local’s secret. Tucked away in the suburb of Tihi-o-tonga is 20 hectares of rolling land and steep gullies. Many people have dedicated trees here to loved ones. Right now the trees are leaving their winter rest and exploding in delicate baby pink blossoms – it’s really quite beautiful. Take yourself on one of the walks or make use of the picnic tables (and even a BBQ) scattered about the place for a picnic. It’s a fabulous place to let the kids burn off some energy and a perfect kite-flying venue on a breezy day. There is no fee to visit this park, just head up Mokoia Drive and enjoy.
Kiwi chicks galore!
It’s not the first creature you think off when you’re mulling over Springtime, but Spring is also the season for kiwi hatching! If you have not yet seen a kiwi in your life (let alone an adorable ball of baby feathery cuteness!), then Spring is the time to do it. Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua is home to the National Kiwi Hatchery, where they proudly hatch over 130 of these little guys every year! Although you can’t cuddle these babies, you can get pretty close. Book on a behind the scenes tour and if you get lucky, you’ll see a chick being weighed or feed. Part of the entrance fee goes to the kiwi programme here so you get the chance to contribute to saving the kiwi. My tip: get on one of the morning tours – you’re more likely to see a kiwi chick up close and personal. Tours start in November.
Let’s not forget the lambs
Kiwi chicks may tug the heartstrings but tiny woolly lambs will bring on the feels for sure! There is a woolly secret that you’ll find tucked away in a farmyard nursery in Rotorua. Have you ever googled ‘cutest sheep in the world’? Do it now! You’ll find images of a sheep that looks just like a kid’s cuddly toy, a real-life Shaun the Sheep. The rare Valais Blacknose sheep has only been on the shores of NZ less than a year so is not well know, but trust me, you don’t want to let this #intsasheep opportunity pass you by. Get yourself a ticket to the Agrodome Farm Show – access to the Farmyard nursery is included. My tip: the first show of the day is always super busy with tour buses – check out the 11am and you’ll have a much better chance of getting picked as a volunteer to ‘help out’ on stage. DO NOT forget your camera!!
Night market eats
If you find yourself in Rotorua on a Thursday evening, ditch the sit-down restaurants this time around, enjoy the warmer weather and get yourself some phenomenal street food at the Rotorua Night Market. It’s the perfect place to try out a fantastic range of ethnic foods including Chilean sushi, Thai, the Polish bakery, soft shell crab sliders, dumpling and the list goes on. So bags yourself a beanbag, listen to some live music and enjoy life. The Rotorua Night Market is on every Thursday Night from 5pm – 9pm on Tutanekai Street, weather permitting.
Go ride a bike
We are absolutely spoilt in Rotorua with mountain bike trails, so dust the winter cobwebs off your bike and hit the trails! With Spring now here, the tracks are drying out a bit in Whakarewarewa Forest, aka ‘The Redwoods’, which is home to dozens of well-maintained tracks with very quirky names, catering for every skill level from extremely unfit middle-aged people who have not ridden a bike for a few years (that’s me) to those who have the expertise to negotiate the higher level trails. The kids have a dedicated kids loop and Tahi is a brilliant track for all the rookies. At the mountain biking base on Waipa State Mill Road, you can hire a bike (pedal-powered or e-bike) if you don’t have your own, join a guided adventure, take a lesson or make your own way. My tip: Buy a map. It’s a bit of a maze in there and the map also tells you what grade each track is.
Want to visit Rainbow Springs and Agrodome? Check out the Rotorua Diamond Pass.