Better late than never haha! Christmas is not much fun when you live alone and all your family are overseas, never mind the fact that I just can’t wrap my head around a mid summer Christmas! So, seemed like an excuse for a holiday to me.
I jumped at the chance to visit Rotorua, having not been there for almost ten years (if you don’t count the waka ama training, which was in the region but not in the city itself). My new partner has family up there, so although it was a giant leap into the unknown (having not actually met any of them!) I thought what the heck!
Naturally, I was going to take part in a Parkrun or two while I was there so Peter had to be prepared to come with me. To his credit, having never heard of Parkrun before, he did 4 of them with me while I was in the Bay of Plenty!
I contacted Rotorua (Puarenga Parkrun) to ask about wheelchair suitability. They had not had a wheelchair participant before, but thought it should be manageable mostly. Rotorua itself is a pretty highly active volcanic region and Parkrun goes through some sulphur fields, the safest route being marked with poles and you must not deviate off that path. Sometimes it was very wet and sandy there, sometimes relatively solid. This was geothermal activity related not weather related. So I needed a push or two on occasion. On the whole it was ok, unique scenery though with all the sulphur pools and steam vents! We did this one 3 times: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
Rotorua itself is a tourist town, but, the wealth seems to be quite separate to the local socioeconomic areas, which I was surprised about.
A little known secret to locals (and only discovered by accident!) I wanted to go for a swim, but when we got there the centre was closed for refurbishments. BUT… round the back the open air 50m pool was completed and you could access it through a little side gate, pay your $ and swim in this quite incredible facility! 50m pool with bulkhead, amazing! Almost as good as my favourite St Clair. It still wins because it is right next to the ocean!
I had been here before but didn’t realise. I was taken up to this lake on my one and only flying visit while I was here with team GB in 2013. AMAZING scenery, as it always is in New Zealand.
The buried village
This is just up the valley from blue lake. I was curious because I love learning about the NZ history, with it being so unique. Sadly though, it was very overpriced for what it was, as most of the buried village was destroyed or is still buried, following a chain of earth quakes a century ago that also destroyed the famous pink and blue terraces that were also nearby. (The village in question was built by the Victorian’s as a tourist destination for the pink and blue terraces nearby. Google it!)
We did go for a short stroll in the redwoods, not native, of course, to NZ (American actually). But, the supposed wheelchair friendly path was not at all wheelchair friendly and unfortunately there were not quite enough seats on route either. One short 2km loop only. But of course, 2km is not short at all for me!
Whakarewarewa living Māori village
I had not been here before. This is a real village, built on geothermal land, and has a living working population. For a reasonable fee you can go in and take a look around how they do things and how they use the geothermal activity for cooking and bathing!
Tauranga Parkrun – New Years Day
This is around an hours drive from Rotorua, over on the coast. And boy, is it a kiwi tourist destination! Don’t forget more people live on North island (3x more) than South Island. I am not used to seeing these crowds hahah!
Again, I was their first wheelchair participant. Oh boy was this one hard! Flat, but incredibly rough rugged riverside path made for a good old resistance workout! I was also going to tackle the mount (on two legs) but due to the fact I was having big problems with my socket (3 months overdue a change due to staff sickness just before Christmas) we decided this was a job for another visit perhaps.
Video montage of the holiday
Massive thank you to Peter and his family for making me feel so welcome. The sun shone the whole time, the torrential rain only starting the day after I left hahahaha.