Articles posted in the "Rotorua" category

Renting a campervan and travelling around New Zealand is an excellent way to get to those “out of the way” places while still retaining some special home comforts: proper bed,  hot shower, chilled drinks, and power for your ipod!

Sometimes, though, getting to the end of the road isn’t enough of an adventure . . . sometimes you want to keep exploring.  This is where cycling bridges the gap.

New Zealand is on its’ way to creating one of the largest networks of cycleways in the world. For those who are interested, bringing a bike (or renting one while you are here) is the perfect companion to a campervan rental.

First, the campervan provides you with a secure base from which to ride one of the hundreds of developed trails around the country. Second, cycling gives you the opportunity to stretch out and experience New Zealand’s beauty close-up and personal.

So where can you ride? New Zealand roads are notoriously winding and narrow. Fortunately,  hundreds of kilometres of developed cycle trails exist around the country. Trails range from leisurely one hour loop trails to 3-4 day cross country adventures. Rotorua and Queenstown are excellent places to ride. Outside these more developed riding centres, many communities have invested in their own trails, giving cyclists the opportunity to get an ‘insiders view’ into some of New Zealand’s most untouched wilderness and rural environments.

Where can you find information about riding? Most communities of 4000 citizens or more will have an official information centre, or “i-Site”. These centres provide extensive infomration about the local region as well as activites within the area. If they do not have a dedicated cycling trails, they will certainly be able to offer advice on where to ride a bike. Towns without information centres will invariably have a garage/petrol station or local shop where you can ask locals about things to do in the area. Alternatively, for those keen on cycling their way around the country, visit the NZbybike link to find out more about some of the country’s network of cycle trails.

Where can you rent a bike? Most larger centres, and some more popular small ones, will have bike shops with rental bikes. Depending on the type of cycling you want to do, shop experts will offer advice on the type of bike to hire, as well as trip plans. Highway/road cycling is recommended for those with signficant road riding experience; however mountain biking is well suited to any age and ability. Some campervan rental companies are now offering hire bikes as part of their ‘optional’ menu.

When planning your trip to New Zealand, consider using a bike as a secondary means of transport. Not only will it keep you fit along your journey, it is an excellent way to discover more of what the country has to offer.

Happy Riding!

If you’re travelling around the North Island of New Zealand in a motorhome, you’ll probably be planning to visit one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations: Rotorua.

Rotorua mudpoolsRotorua is a tourist town. If you’ve never been there before, there are some things that I really recommend you do. Many of the top tourist activities command an entry fee, but there is also plenty to do in Rotorua that won’t cost you anything at all. Here are my top tips for things you should do and see during your campervan rental holiday in Rotorua.

Top things to do in Rotorua on your campervan rental holiday

Geothermal activity – make sure you visit at least one thermal attraction such as Whakarewarewa, Waimangu Valley, Waiotapu (my personal favourite) or Orakei Korako, to view geysers, boiling mud, steam escaping from natural holes in the ground and amazing mineral formations. For a free alternative, visit Kuirau Park where you can see lots of steam and boiling mud, and even soak your feet in thermal hot water, for no cost at all.

Maori culture – Rotorua is a major centre for Maori culture in New Zealand and a maori cultural activity such as a hangi and concert show and/or a visit to Te Puia Maori arts and crafts centre is a must. A cheaper option is Ohinemutu, the original settlement of the Ngati Whakaue tribe, where you can visit the Marae and experience Maori culture for a gold coin donation.

Agriculture – learn about one of New Zealand’s major industries at one of the many farm-related attractions such as the Agrodome. Entry does cost, but if you’ve never seen a sheepdog at work, fed a lamb, milked a cow or touched wool straight off the back of a sheep, it’s worth including in your itinerary.

Thermal pools – Rotorua has for many years been renowned for its therapeutic thermal water, and  you absolutely must have a soak in a thermal pool while you’re in town. Many camping grounds (and hotels and motels) have their own thermal pools, and you’ll also find several public thermal pool complexes varying quality and price. My favourite is the Polynesian Spa in the heart of town. I recommend you pay the extra for the Deluxe Lake Spa and enjoy a luxurious soak looking out over the lake. If you’d like to try a more natural (and free) option, head to Kerosene Creek or Waiotapu Stream, where hot and cold streams meet.

Parks and playgrounds – Those travelling with kids will have lots of fun at the volcanic playground on the lakefront. It’s a huge playground with activities for kids of all ages, a cafe nearby with coffee for the grownups, and plenty of parking space for your rental campervan. It’s also fun to spend time relaxing on the lakefront and watching all the activity (warning: feed the swans at your peril, they are not friendly!).

Go walkabout – A walk in Rotorua’s lovely Redwood Forest is a not-to-be-missed free activity. The walk through this beautiful forest is easy and enjoyable for all ages. If you’re more adventurous, you can hike further up the hill or try a mountain bike ride. The Blue and Green Lakes are also lovely for a short or long walk, and there are some beautiful little beaches if you feel like a swim.

Get on the water – Rotorua might not be on the coast but there are plenty of lakes for watery adventures. Try a relaxing dinner cruise on Lake Rotorua, or some rafting or kayaking on the Kaituna River. For those less adventurous, you can walk along the banks of the Kautuna river to view waterfalls, a cave and a trout pool as well as watch the daredevils on the water!

Go shopping – there are loads of souvenir shops in Rotorua, it’s a great place to pick up a few things to take home. For something a little less touristy, try the Rotorua Night Market which is held every Thursday in the centre of town.

More about Rotorua

Where to camp

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