New Zealand- Rotorua Adventure Day

Before leaving Taupo for Rotorua we stopped off at a hidden free gem. One of my friends told us about a hot springs in the Spa Thermal Park so we had time to burn due to our incurable jet lag. We headed out to explore. Again some of the best things come when you least expect it. We arrived during the early morning mist and already there was several people in the hot springs. One couple brought bowls of cereal and where having breakfast while soaking in the hot water. It was nice to wade into the hot springs and yes they were very hot.

Spa Thermal park map
Spa Park in Taupo
Having breakfast in the hot springs- Sure why not!
Ahhh! This water was really hot.
Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland

Our plan was to spend the day in Rotorua but we got off track early. We were headed to more hot springs in Waikiki Valley but they were not open as early as we hoped so we diverted our plans to see the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland. We arrived right in time to see the Lady Knox Geyser which was a disappointment as it was not a natural geyser but one they pour soap into to get it to explode with water at exactly 10am. Then we explored the Thermal Wonderland. It was interesting to see landscapes but very touristy. One tourist yelled at me for taking a blur photo of her. I called her out for being an anger loud american. I call them like I see them. While the Thermal Wonderland was interesting it was not a must see stop.

Waiting for the lady Knox Geyser
There she is at 10am when they pour soap in the hole.
Wai-O-Tapa Wonderland- The Artist Palette
The Champagne Pool
Lake Ngaroro
Wai-O-Tapa- bubbling mud
The thermal wonderland smelled like rotten eggs.
Zorbing with OGO

Next we headed to Rotorua where it seemed to be a city holiday and all the restaurants I had highlighted were closed. So change of plans we visited the local Rotorua Tourist Center where they helped us book a Whitewater rafting trip which ended up to be the highlight of our trip. Sometimes the best things are not even planned. But before we went Whitewater rafting I really wanted to try Zorbing. This has been on my bucket list for a long time. What is Zorbing? You get in a big clear round ball with warm water and they roll you down the hill. We went with OGO Rotorua company as the other was closed for the holiday.  It feels like you are in a salad spinner. We did the side winder track which has several switchbacks. It was fun and definitely an experience but expensive! I think we spent $75 for two people to roll down the hill for 45 seconds. Yikes! But I am glad we checked that off the list.

Zorbing!
They use cars to haul the balls to the top
The tracks in the background
Whitewater rafting Kaituna

We then headed up north of Rotorua to our whitewater adventure. The tour was book with Rotorua Rafting and our package included the pictures which was definitely a plus. We had a quick lunch while parked in their parking lot and applied our sunscreen (lesson learned from yesterday).  Then we went inside to get suited up. We should have known what we were about to get into when they insisted on remove all jewelry. This was going to be a crazy adventure but we just went along with it. Our boat guide was a Crazzzzy New Zealander named, Jay. The other four people in our boat were from Germany three girls and one guy not traveling together. “Luckily” we were placed in the back of the boat. We practiced paddling and “getting down” in the brace position.

On the Kaituna Grade 5 rapids
Our guide in the back, Germans in the front
Top of the first water fall
Bottom of the first waterfall. Where are we?
Here we go!

They let you jump in the water and go down the falls without the boat for a small rapids. Then the first waterfalls where you practice the brace again. The scenery was amazing the water, the lush green trees. I am so glad we were completely oblivious to the fact that we were about to go over the “World’s Highest Commercial rafted waterfalls”! The rapids are a class 5 and the Tutea Falls is 7 meter high. That is almost a 23 feet waterfall! So much for being young and adventurous. But we were just cruising along thinking this was a day in the park.

Tutea Falls

We knew we were in trouble when they ask if anyone wants to get out for “the walk of shame” and skip the waterfall. Then they say a Maori cultural chat (aka prayer) to Cheif Tutea for safe passage. Yikes! What did we sign up for? They expect 1 in 20 boats will flip but don’t tell you this is a low number. We were the first of four boats to go over. As our boat went over the falls I decided the walk of shame was not really that bad of an idea but too late. Over we went!

Our boat sandwiched like a taco with the front of the boat ending up on the back of the boat underwater. Remember how I felt lucky to be in the back? Now we were at the bottom of the taco and underwater. I was literately stunned but we did not flip!  When was panicking underwater trying to brace under the weight of the boat I had somehow strained my leg. I was silent and my quad killing. We were all “somewhat” ok.  We watched as the next boat went over and they were not so lucky their boat flipped. The next two boats went over without flipping. Except maybe a lost water shoe or a paddle. After the big Tutea Falls they played around in some of the rapids, Riding the front like a bull. After all of this, we made it through and were still alive.  This was my husband’s favorite thing we did our entire trip! Me…not so much!

Tutea Falls- The highest commercial rafted waterfall in the world!
After we made it down the 23 foot waterfall
Skyline Luge in Rotorua

After rafting we headed to Skyline Luge back in Rotorua to ride the luge ride. We were arrive right in time for the nighttime luge rider discount which started at 6pm. You take the big gondola up to the top of the mountain the ride the luge half way down. You have the choice of three different tracks- easy, moderate or difficult tracks. Then you take the chairlift back up to the top. Our tickets included six rides and a snack at the top restaurant for $42NZD each. It was fun tourist thing to do. Not sure we would do it again but glad we did it.

Taking a gondola to the top to ride the skyline luge
Watch out here we come.
Dangerous!
At the bottom you take a chairlift back up to the top the luge carts hook onto the chairlift.

After the Skyline luge we were running out of time and daylight. It was about to start to rain so we headed to our hotel- Holiday Inn Rotorua that we booked on 20,000 points for the night. We had way over scheduled the day and we had to skip two things on our list The Hamurana Springs and the Redwood tree walk. I guess there is always a next time. The next day we were returning our rental car at the Auckland airport and then heading to Auckland to explore. Stay tuned!

This is part of a larger trip report, Please read more at the following links.

New Zealand- Take Two- Planning Stage

New Zealand- Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach

Hobbiton, Waitamo Glow Worm Cave and Tongariro NP

Tongariro Alpine Crossing & Taupo

Rotorua Adventure Day- Kaituna Whitewater rafting

Wine tasting on Waiheke Island from Auckland

Exploring Auckland and the start of our cruise- Coming Soon!

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