Alice in Rotorua

Leaving the South Island I was facing a two day journey to get back up to Auckland. Since I had the hop on hop off bus pass I decided to break up the trip a little with a day in Rotorua.

I left Kaikoura in the morning and made it to the Interislander ferry by 1:00 pm. It was nice to do the Cook Strait crossing in the daylight this time; the trip out of Picton is a lovely ride through green hills on either side of the channel. I arrived in Wellington shortly before 5 but didn’t venture back out into the city. I just took it easy at the hostel since I had to get on a bus again before 8:00 am the next morning. It was already afternoon by the time I got to Rotorua, so my exploring would mostly have to wait for the next day.

Rotorua is known for its hot springs and its stench. This town stinks. Literally. It’s because it’s a geothermally active area so the odor of sulfur is a constant presence. Having experienced this immediately, I wanted to experience its other prominent feature, so I looked into what my options were for the day.

NZ$69 to do a day trip to the best place to see the unique colors, geological formations, and geysers. Hot springs were all spas, not exactly an affordable option or even what I was imagining. I decided neither of these things was worth the budget expense; I was spoiled in the Salt Flats with our geysers and hot springs at dawn experience.

So what could I do in Rotorua on a budget? Have a pretty good day actually.

I spent the majority of the day walking around Rotorua and still was able to see the insanity of its natural make-up. I started with the path around the lake, which traversed land that appeared dead but actually had small geysers, bubbling holes, coffee-colored pools, and tons of birds. And of course the awful smell. I’m lucky my face went back to normal after an hour of walking around with my nose scrunched up.

I continued the walk south to the Redwood Forest. Try getting two more opposite landscapes within the same walk. Now I was surrounded by a lush forest with soaring Redwood trees and green fern trees. The oddity of Rotorua was not to be forgotten though as I traversed a bright blue river in the middle of the forest. Have I used Alice in Wonderland yet? Because if the Amazon was Dr. Suess and the Salt Flats were Salvador Dali then Rotorua is Alice in Wonderland.

It was a solid day of walking, with lots of time to think, listen to music, and to reflect on my month in New Zealand. That night I got on a bus to Auckland, my final stop before the next country. Rotorua was a fitting stop on my way out to see more quirky nature – I started in the North Island with glowworm caves and ended with geothermal wonderland. NZ really does have some of the craziest nature within such a small country.