With the much anticipated OE less than 6 weeks away and life getting pretty expensive as bookings are made and paid for, we wanted cheap things to do in Rotorua on an overnight trip. The Jasons Guides which you can pick up at tourist hotspots such as information centres include lots of vouchers for 5 or 10% off various popular (and often pricey) attractions and certainly did save us some change.
Emerald Spa Motor Inn on Fenton Street offered a very clean, tidy and modern room which featured kitchen facilities and a massive round spa bath. I’ve previously stayed at Bella Vista Motel and The Best Western which also have spa pools and are very reasonable when you’re dividing the room costs among a few people.
We skipped the luge (expensive and we’d done its Queenstown equivalent a month earlier) and played a round of mini golf ($14 per person) instead. Gently convincing the bunnies hopping around to leave the fairway added an additional obstacle.
After I took out the mini golf challenge we visited Rainbow Springs where entry was $35 for an adult. We also opted to do the guided behind the scenes half hour kiwi tour, the price of which was a $5 donation but well worth it for the chance to see baby kiwi chicks and eggs about to hatch as well as adult kiwis (like the one below) in their (manmade) natural surroundings.
Avoiding restaurants, dinner was a picnic on the floor of our hotel room procured from Pak n’ Save which included bread rolls, cheese, salad, deli treats, fresh summer fruits and cider.
I’ve heard some really great things about Polynesian Spa, however it’s almost $30 per person for entry. Waikite Valley hotpools are around 25 minutes drive out of Rotorua, set in the beautiful, peaceful bush and only $16.50 entry for an adult.
Before driving back to Auckland we had an early morning walk around the boiling mud pools of Kuirau Park.
Legend tells that in early Maori times the small lake in the park was much cooler and was known as Taokahu. A beautiful young woman named Kuiarau was bathing in the waters when a taniwha dragged her to his lair below the lake. The gods above were angered and made the lake boil so the Taniwha would be destroyed forever.
If you are in Rotorua in summer and have a vehicle I would highly recommend driving up to Blue Lake where I watched Mike compete in a triathlon last year. The area still has a pristine, untouched feel about it.