Rotorua-Matamata-Mt.Whanganui NZ – Adventure Day

It’s R’s birthday today! She’s 7! We decorated the RV last night after she went to sleep, with banners and balloons. Laying out her presents on the table. She was surprised by the extra little gifts. Then we lit the candle on her muffin and sang Happy Birthday to her.

We packed up then, and headed to Hells Gate Spa. It’s a Maori owned site for geothermal bathing. We first went into the mud bath for 20 minutes. Slathering ourselves with the magical healing mud. 😉

They had us shower off and then we soaked in a sulfur pool as long as we liked. It was nice and warm and you got used to the smell after a bit. Not sure about all the health properties they claim but it was fun to try.

After we drove to Blue Springs. A walkway recommended to us by friends. It’s outside Putaruru, and not well signed. So we were surprised by the number of other visitors there. It was a walkway along side a beautiful river. Some rare ecosystem had created these incredible grasses and clear river water. That along with a few Redwoods made quite the walk. It goes for 12 kilometers, however Hobbiton was calling my name so we didn’t walk as long as we would have liked.

Hobbiton is about 45 minutes outside Rotorua. It is a total tourist trap, busing in people from the surrounding towns. But as a fan of the movies I had to go! You have to sign up for tour times when you get tickets. Apparently it’s smart to do this in advance. Thankfully we were able to get on one of the times for the day. You go in groups of approximately 40 on a bus. They drove us about 1.5k onto the game where the film company spent about $500 million creating Hobbiton across 12 acres. The buses drop you off with a tour guide and then they guide you around for an hour and a half. They allow 30 minutes at the end of the tour to enjoy a hard cider, a stout, or a ginger beer at the Green Dragon Inn. It felt a bit like being in a cattle herd at times. But totally worth it. The details put into each hobbit hole were beautiful. The effort put into creating this set is mind blowing. They even had the New Zealand army involved building the road through the farm. Ty’s now convinced he can build us a hobbit home out at the lake. I’d love it!

Here’s how Ty feels about tourists and large tour groups. 😆

It was about 4:30 when we finished the tour. There are really no towns nearby and R had requested Indian for her birthday dinner. So we decided to press on about 45 minutes to our next destination, Mt. Maunganui. Another location recommendation. We finally spotted an Indian restaurant about 6pm. The dinner took a long time but at least the food was excellent! It was a trying meal with tired hungry children. Trying to keep them occupied without disrupting others. As parents we’ve all had those meals. We ate as quickly as we could and hurried off to our RV campground. Knowing we were pulling in late all the free campsites would be full. The RV site we tried was closed, so we had to intercom staff to be let in. We finally get a spot and it was already full! There were so many campers it was crazy! So we decided to leave there and try a smaller RV park, more outside the city. We finally found another RV park, and got their very last spot. Right next to a tent full of karaoke singers! 🙄

It was after 8pm by this point. L had fallen asleep in his car seat.

With no real WiFi and a long day behind us we all fell asleep by 10pm. On vacation, no shame! 😄

Rotorua NZ – Adventures Day 2

Ty called the RV company early in the morning. They we actually helpful this time and sent a mobile mechanic to us! He was able to give us a new secondary battery and fixed our broken headlight. Finally something was going right!

I had read about a cafe where they have cats you can pet. So that’s where we went first thing in the morning. Fancy Meow Cat Cafe is New Zealand’s first pure bread cat cafe. 😆 The cats were super snuggly like you’d hope. L spilled his hot cocoa on the floor in our first ten minutes there. So it wasn’t the greatest start. But after a bit R and L found some cars to play with and we got our fill of pets in. It made us all miss having a cat at home.

On our way back to the RV we let the kids play at a playground and had a picnic lunch for an hour or so.

R was again trying to entice the birds. 😁

We knew we needed to go shopping for presents for R. Her birthday is he next day and we wanted to make it special. Our plan was to find a mall and Ty would keep her busy and L and I shopped. However, we couldn’t find it, and ended up at Kmart. This turned out to be exactly what we needed! We got decorations for the RV. L picked out a necklace, headbands, and sticker earrings. Then as R was looking at their off brand “American Girl” dolls, Ty realized they were quite cheap. So we let her pick one out for her big present. She is so excited, and her doll has an explorer theme so we like that.

After our big Kmart splurges we drove to the Redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forrest. It was incredible! The trees are magnificent. The trails were wonderfully maintained. Separated between hikers, bikers, and horse trails.

After the Redwoods we went back to the big RV campsite. The kids played on the playground, bounce pillow, and tether ball set. I cooked some dinner and Ty went for a run. He took these awesome photos while we was out. It was a wonderful evening.

Rotorua NZ – Adventure Day 1

We tried to enjoy the playground at the RV Park in the morning but everything was wet. So we packed up and headed to Huka Honey Hive I’d heard it was an interactive bee exhibit. But it turned out to just be a honey gift shop with small bee keeping outfits the kids could try on, and the Bee Movie playing off to the side. Not quite what I was thinking. 😕

We also went back to Lava Glass. The glass blowers were making vases already. It was a great set up. We sat on benches and got to observe every step of the process. They’d answer questions when they could and there were informative videos playing as well. We stayed and watched the whole process. It was about 45 minutes. The kids were really into it as well since we’d just studied the glass sculpture in Sea-Tac.

Then we left Taupo and drove about an hour to Rotorua. This seems to be a big tourist adventure town. So we joined right in! We went straight to Skyline Rotorua and signed up for a gondola ride and three luge rides. The kids sat in our laps as we zipped down the hills. We rode a chairlift back up and did it again! It was a total blast and the view of the city from the top was beautiful.

The other activity we really wanted to do in New Zealand was to Zorb. Basically throwing yourself down a hill, in a giant inflatable ball! So we went straight to the original source, ZORB. Unfortunately, due to new standards you have to be six years old to ride. So L was out of luck. Cue to tears, since we’d been taking this up. But all was quickly resolved with a cheap ice cream cone, thank goodness! Ty, R, and I changed into suits and jumped in one as quick as we could. They filled it with warm water to help the swishing capabilities. Then we barreled down the hill on the straight track! You definitely need to be ok, with constant water in your face. (Not my favorite) Other than that it was super bouncy and a lot of fun! They have a hot tub set up so you can warm up after your roll. L got to join us in there, while Ty and R decided, they wanted more Zorb. They signed up for the curvy course this time. So back up the hill they went. That one bounced them all over the ball so the inside zipper was a bit rough R said. Ty had a blast, but R said it wasn’t as fun. Definitely one for the bucket list, which we will have to do again when L is old enough!

We drove to the free camp spots in town. It’s literally just a parking lot right by the sulphur springs. It stunk! We left the RV and walked to a playground. Let the kiddos run around for a while before we walked into town to find dinner. Thankfully we can across the Rotorua Night Market. This only happens every Thursday. We were able to try sushi, Korean food, steamed dumplings, pad Thai, chicken skewers, cronuts, chocolate cake, and baklava! It was all so yummy!

We walked back to the RV in the dark and cold. Tried to set the heat and realized our secondary battery was dead. Again no heat! Ty was PO’d! The RV company got a very terse phone call that night and had another one coming in the morning. We packed up and drove straight to an RV site so we could plug in for the night. L passed out on he way there. Both kiddos were so tired from a very fun and full day!

Taupo NZ – Adventure Day 2

We woke up in a normal temperature RV! It wasn’t overly warm but we weren’t freezing. Yay for small victories. We took our time over breakfast and then went next door to the AC Baths. It’s a pool complex with a large outdoor pool, 2 toddler areas, 2 lane pools, an indoor learn to swim pool, 2 hydroslides, a Tarzan swing, 4 private mineral pools, a sauna, and a cafe. 😳 The water was perfectly warm and clean. The kids loved the Tarzan swing. L perfected his diving. Both kids are total fish!

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We stayed till everyone got hungry. Showered and realized we’d lost R’s new goggles. Annoying. Ate lunch in the camper and then raced up to Huka Falls dam. They release it at certain points in the day, it’s supposed to be impressive. We think we missed the actual release. It was hard to tell. 😁

We then tried to see the glass blowers at Lava Glass but they were just taking their lunch break.

So we tried to go to Huka Honey Hive to see a bee exhibit but they were closed for staff training! 🤦🏻‍♀️ Three strikes!

We decided to go hike around Huka Falls for a bit. They can’t close the hiking trails, at least.

The kids tried to entice the birds to land on them. R’s been working on this bird goal for months now! Still no luck.

We saw a jet boat and river boat cruise. Then R directed me in a photo shoot.

The hydroslides opened in the afternoon at the pool so we took the kids back and let them slide for an hour or so. They were the only ones!

We left the pools after 5pm, went back to our campsite, and made a simple meal from leftovers. We let the kids watch a show on the iPad before bed.

Another busy but relaxing vacation day!