smoke rising

 We had one day in Rotorua to see as much of the area as we could. We took the pamphlets we had been given by our travel agent and selected 3 things we would like to do most.

smoke risingOne of the geothermal pools for which Rotorua is best known

We chose to go and see the thermal pools, to visit the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park and do the Redwod Forest Canopy Walk. The morning was beautiful as we drove the 20mins from town to the thermal pools and geysers. We saw a sign on the left which indicated to turn left to the pools. We were surprised that there was no office or fee to pay but just a few paths to walk around looking at a few pools bubbling up muddy water. We were fascinated by these but the smell of sulphur was overpowering.

When we returned to the car a little disappointed at having seen so few pools when we had read and been told about how much there was to see, including a geyser. Then another couple who had also been surprised that there was not much to be seen showed us a sign that they had just seen indicating that this was a small area of pools and gave directions to the full setup.

Bubbling sulphur pond 2A bubbling thermal pool

We arrived there to find all the usual tourist attractions such as a Gift Shop, Restaurant and Ticket Office. Once we had our tickets we were directed to a path to follow with numbered stopping points and the whole experience turned out to be wonderful. The path went around many different levels and passed by both shallow and deep pools. One of the best experiences was to walk on a low bridge across a sulphur lake. We had noticed on our travels that young people from China and Japan loved to pose for photographs sometimes in rather dangerous places. We saw them come close to danger on this bridge as a number of young ladies stood very close to the edge and then pose on one leg. If they had overbalanced they could so easily to fall into this hot, bubbling lake of sulphuric acid.

Grotto with Sulphur 2

Grotto of limestone and sulphur with a bit of iron (red colour)

Low pathe beside sulphur lakeSulphur Lake

Walking across a sulphur lakeWalking across the Sulphur Lake

The geyser was situated in another area further up the road and was activated at 10:30 daily. It was a normal active geyser which had been treated in such a way that it would not erupt except when artificially started. It was after 10:30 by the time we had finished walking along the path and seen the various pools so we decided to see the geyser the following day on our way to Wellington.

We drove to the other side of Rotorua, it is not a very big town, to the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park. When we bought our tickets we were given a little packet of food for the trout and the ducks and it was here that we learnt that bread was not good for ducks as it causes bloating in their stomachs. Quite early on the path we came across the area in the stream where there was a large group of trout but no sign of any ducks. On opening the packet of food and tossing some into the water the trout went for it eagerly but in seconds a number of ducks appeared seemingly from nowhere and they quickly beat the trout to any food thrown into the water. We had a bit of fun with the food feeding sparrows and weavers and getting them to eat out of my hand.

Ent to Animal ReserveEntrance to Wildlife Park

Ducks and trout 2Ducks and Trout

The first cage we walked through was home to three Kea Birds which were able to roam freely within the large caged area in which they live and visitors get to walk through but there are big signs to CLOSE THE DOOR. We returned to this cage at 14:30 to see these birds get fed and to learn more about them and their habits. We saw them fed on vegetables, open packed food and do some tricks such as shake hands. We were told that they are very destructive birds, particularly in the South Island. They chew on windscreen wipers and the rubber around windscreens, they pull lids of rubbish bins even when stones and other heavy items are placed on them and they will break hosepipes.

2 Kea birds 22 Kea Parrots

We continued walking along the path and saw a number of different animals and birds. There were a number of Fallow Deer which had been brought to NZ from different parts of Europe. There were Mountain Goats, very large Pigs, Turkeys etc. They all had very large areas in which to live and roam. There were some animals whose shadows were all we could see as they were so far from the fence under trees.

3 turkeys and a fawnTurkeys and a small fallow Deer

Mountain goat 2A Mountain Goat

Before we left we visited the lions and witnessed their being fed small pieces of meat. Amazingly they did not fight over the meat but seemed to know that they would each receive a fair share.

Lions 3Lions eating lunch

By the time we left the Wildlife Park it was raining quite hard and we were concerned that we might not get to do our canopy walk of the Redwoods. We returned to the hotel and began preparing for our departure the next day when the weather cleared so we went to the Redwoods Forest. What a wonderful evening we enjoyed even though we were joined by a group of 8 year olds celebrating a birthday. They had no interest in the trees or lanterns or information available at each of the stops along the way but rather preferred to run and bounce on the linking suspension bridges. We decided to let them finish their fun and then take our time to enjoy the beauty of creation. Incredible experience.

Spiral start to walkwaySpiral walkway into the trees

Walkway thru treesWalkway (just visible) through the trees

Lanterns in the trees 2Lanterns among the trees