Rotorua and Taupo
Rotorua New Zealand is a place like no other. Only a good three hours’ drive from Auckland, it’s like entering another world. Steaming vents and bubbling mud carve the ever-changing landscape and a constant smell of sulfur lies in the air.
Taupo, an hour further south of Rotorua, has less geothermal activities. The town is nestled on Lake Taupo, which is not only the biggest lake in New Zealand but also the giant caldera of the Taupo Volcano, which is considered a ‘supervolcano’.
Rotorua and Taupo both lie in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which stretches from White Island all the way to Tongariro National Park. The earth crust here is very thin, compared with other places in the world, which results in a lot of geothermal activity and a big range of active volcanoes in the area.
The geothermal activity makes Rotorua and Taupo (literal) hotspots for spa and wellness treatments. You can treat your skin to a full-body mud mask or soak up the warm thermal water in the many spas or in one of the free hot springs. You even get to take a shower under a natural hot waterfall!
You are spoilt for choice in Taupo and Rotorua if you are an adrenaline junkie. It may not be as famous as its southern equivalent Queenstown, but there are heaps of awesome and thrilling things to do in Rotorua!
In no other place in New Zealand is it as easy to learn about Maori culture than in Rotorua. There is an array of Maori villages where tourists get to learn about the birth or Aotearoa (which is the Maori word for New Zealand) and see how wood, bone and pounamu (New Zealand jade) is carved. Some of the villages also serve a traditional Hangi, made out of meat and vegetables and steamed in an earth oven.