Waitomo, All Blacks and Rotorua

New Zealand's flag
Oceania » New Zealand » North Island
June 14th 2010
Published: June 15th 2010
Edit Blog Post

So we had originally just bought tickets to go and see the All Blacks in New Plymouth but we don't do anything in half measures. I officially have one week left and well we were going to make the best of our last jaunt out of Auckland. So we figured we could do a tour stopping at Waitomo Caves before the game in New Plymouth and then head to Rotorua for a night or two. It's winter and quieter so a lot easier to organise everything last minute. Except for the game in New Plymouth actually where we spent the whole morning trying to find a place to stay. We only just found a place to stay because a hostel decided to open especially for us....whew 😱

Waitomo Caves

It was a bit of a rainy so it was a great occasion to cross this off our to do list. We had heard that they were really worth visiting so when we got there we decided to go all out and do the popular combo tour 'Waitomo Glow worm caves and Ruakuri Cave Combo'. It all takes about 3 hours and it was definitely worth it. It's a short

Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo
bus ride to see Ruakuri. After the dramatic beginning of seeing the very impressive instalment of the spiral walkway down into the cave (the picture in the advert for the cave, it was way too dark for me to take my own unfortunately) you take a very impressive guided walk for 1.6km underground. It was unimaginably stunning seeing all the different types of limestone formations, my favourite being the curtain. I was drawn to take pictures of everything and was so frustrated at times that they were not coming out the way I wanted as it was kind of dark as we were in cave. There was a point when the guide explained she wanted to show us something special and when she turned on the light at a specific point in the cave we were completely surrounded by hundreds of stalactite formations it made my jaw drop. I got to see a glow worm (which is technically more like a maggot) up real close and to be honest it was kind of cool. I guess I was not really planning for them to impress me. Hubby was desperate to take a picture of the long strings they let down
Limestone FormationsLimestone FormationsLimestone Formations

Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo
to catch their food but unfortunately taking pictures of the glow worms is not allowed. It's fascinating seeing hundreds of sticky strings reflected in the light. Actually that is what made seeing both caves worthwhile as you can't take pictures in the Glow worm cave...of anything! So the only pictures we have are of the Ruakuri cave. All I have of the Glow worm cave is the really beautiful memory of taking the short boat ride in the dark with only the light of the worms. It is like watching constellations of the stars in the night sky. You have to be real quiet as well which only adds to the atmosphere.

All Blacks vs Ireland

So that afternoon we head towards New Plymouth for the game. Unfortunately it was still raining so no sign of Mt Taranaki. We ended up being the only guest at the hostel. They usually close for two months of June and July and only opened for the game and charged us accordingly. Our host at the Sea Spray was very helpful about how to get ourselves to the game and most importantly where the party was at before and after

Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo
the game. So we dropped the bags and quickly headed to the local Irish pub where they had also closed off one of the streets for that day. A great way to get into the spirit of the occasion! The buses to the stadium (which was actually only a 20 minute walk from town but hey) were frequent and only cost a gold coin (that's a dollar if you are wondering). That was definitely part of the experience with a bit of pushing and shoving and loud singing, laughter and chatter. It was all done in good spirits! It was mighty easy to get inside the stadium, no bag searches and just a quick check of the tickets and we were quickly in the lines for some food and something to drink. The queue was long but quick so we made it well in time to our seats. It was a great game and even better to see the All Black kick some butt. Yes it is very cool seeing the haka live! Good job to all those involved but we are left wondering if they will cope with the World Cup next year but I'm no expert in these
Yarrow StadiumYarrow StadiumYarrow Stadium

New Plymouth
things. For the after party we rocked with the Irish which by definition is a lot of fun. They had a live band and a steady supply of beer!

A long rainy drive

So we wake up to more rain and no Mt Taranaki! Only slightly disappointed. We still ended up taking the long way to Rotorua but the rain dampened the mood slightly. We drove down the 3 toward Hawera trying to see Mt Taranaki in vain, it just hid behind the clouds. We did stop at a great bakery for breakfast in Stratford. On a slight aside I love stopping in bakery's in NZ for a pie or a colossal donut! We continued down to Wanganui, taking a break for coffee, yes it was still raining and the river was looking a bit muddy today but it was still rather grand. We drove up to Turangi and there was some beautiful views especially of Tongariro National Park. Unfortunately the clouds were low covering the mountains and they had had some snow so it was a bit frustrating but what we did see was fantastic so I can only imagine it's grandeur on a sunny

All Blacks vs Ireland
day. Once we got to Lake Taupo though the sun came out and we had some beautiful views over the lake. I was pleasantly surprised by it's grandeur which I was not expecting. Unfortunately we did not have much time to enjoy it...obviously it's a great place to be in the summer and spend some time...especially if you are into fishing. We did have a short stop at Huka Falls which were pretty impressive, especially the bright blues of the water.


So finally only a bit late in the evening we arrive to a very warm welcome in a rather smelly Rotorua. Heading down Fenton street you pass motel after motel after hotel which shows how busy it must get in the summer months. Being winter and the temperature being cooler with a bit of breeze makes the rotten egg smell bearable. If you are wondering it is a geothermal area and the smell is the sulphur! We stayed for one night at the Victoria Lodge. The service was fantastic and made a real difference to the overall experience of Rotorua. Our hosts could not have been more helpful! They recommended the best fish and
Come on IrelandCome on IrelandCome on Ireland

All Blacks vs Ireland
chips in the Bay of Plenty if not in the whole of New Zealand, Oppies and well we could not agree more. After dinner it was a hop skip and jump to a relaxing spa at the Polynesian Spa. Of course we don't do things in half measures and we chose their Lakeside spa option, four pools of the usual varying degrees, adults only with views of the lake. It's lovely seeing the lights reflecting off the Lake and watching the smoke from all the geothermal activity slowly rising in the air. Let's just say that relaxing is not a word that does this place justice. It was worth every penny for us and if you are not willing to fork out so much their are cheaper options available for you. The only sensible thing to do after was go to bed!

The next morning we woke up not so early and headed to Te Puia to learn a bit more about Maori culture and see some the geothermal activity in the area. We started with the culutral show which included the Powhiri, the traditional Maori welcome and then a few traditional songs and dances, including the Haka and

All Blacks vs Ireland
you get to give it a go as well. To note is that when they practise these traditions they are not just for show but that you are a part of it and there is the expectation of you to follow showing a certain degree of respect. Don't be scared though they go easy on you and help you along! After we joined a tour of the park learning more about their traditions, seeing traditional wood carving and weaving (the park includes the arts and crafts institute) and learning about the geothermal activity in the area when you get to visit Pohutu Geyser. After our tour we visited their interactive display centre which was very user friendly and actually very interesting. They also have a set up of a traditional Maori Village. Overall we managed to spend at least 3 hours there so I think it is fair to say that we got our moneys worth.

So we ended up having a rather late lunch at a great cafe the Third Place with great views over the Lake (it was recommended to us by the Victoria Lodge), and if you ever go you have to try their custard slice.
The SlaughterThe SlaughterThe Slaughter

All Blacks vs Ireland

Your "first place" is your home and those you live with. Your "second place" is your workplace, school or place of study. Your "Third Place" is where you choose to go to relax, connect and enjoy!

After lunch we went on the walking tour of Rotorua recommended in the Lonely Planet guidebook. We started at the Government gardens, with the great presence of the museum, and then made our way to the beautiful lake front with the usual presence of the birds on their feeding frenzy. In the summer it is obviously usually full with a variety of on the water activities. Today was a bit too cold and I actually had to wear my gloves. The say Rotorua is about 3 degrees colder than Auckland. We then made our way to Ohinemutu Maori Village which you are free to slowly browse around. It is definitely worth going to see the Faith Church which demonstrates the mix of Maori and Christian cultures. The church is full of beautiful Maori carvings, even the seated benches where beautifully carved. We then headed to Kuirau Park to observe more of the geothermal activity. Areas of the park give the impression of being rather dark and dismal, and not taken care of, or pre historic according to my hubby but this is due to the effects of the natural environment. There is a a lovely area with a pond and play area and flowers and then small covered areas with small spa pools which we assume is for you to be able to dip you feet in if you fancy.

We slowly made our way into town which provided the great opportunity to hunt for souvenirs before the long drive back to Auckland. It was a bit of a sad drive really as it was our last jaunt. We have sold our car, I am no longer working and hubby is tieing up his loose ends. Hopefully this is not goodbye but see you later!

Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 25


Te PuiaTe Puia
Te Puia

Rotowhio, The MaraeRotowhio, The Marae
Rotowhio, The Marae

Te Puia, Rotorua
Doing the HakaDoing the Haka
Doing the Haka

Te Puia Cultural Performance

Te Puia

Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley
The Mud PoolsThe Mud Pools
The Mud Pools

Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley
Faith ChurchFaith Church
Faith Church

Ohinemutu Village

Tot: 3.379s; Tpl: 0.063s; cc: 7; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0401s; 3; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 3; ; mem: 1.4mb