If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find an entire video devoted to the sights we saw in Rotorua and I can see why it is such an important tourist destination.
I want to especially highlight Rotorua Canopy Tours. The tour was three-hours of adventure, but I liked how they explained all the conservation work they are doing in the area. So far they have reclaimed 20% of the forest back from rodents and predators (like here, possums are a huge problem), to give native birds and animals a chance to return. It’s nice to think that we helped contribute, even if it’s in a small way by going, or helping spread the word.
After the tour, we were famished! (And please, please go to the toilet before you head out there. Trust me.) We were told of a little out-of-the-way place, the Ciabatta Bakery. It was delicious – and paleo-friendly.
If you’re travelling to Taupo you might get lucky, as we did, and discover an ice-cream van situated at the lookout on the main road in to the city from the north. We stopped and indulged (they have great milk/ice-creams in NZ) and it was very pleasant. As you can see.
As I say in the video, I was very impressed with Taupo. It’s an idyllic town with a lot of culturally interesting things to see and do – including a number of bookshops we walked through and the public library has a temporary membership you can take advantage of for $10 if you would like to borrow books or DVDs.
On the outskirts of town, near Huka Falls, you’ll find the Huka Honey Hive, which is worth a stop. One last recommendation before moving on. There are plenty of places where you can free camp in a campervan in New Zealand. We only free camped one night – mostly because we needed the facilities of a holiday park, for different reasons, each day (for washing, topping up our battery etc.). The one night we free camped was in Taupo, above the marina. This was our view.
It’s a beautiful, sleepy little town. And the glowworm caves were cool.
But by this point, Adam was really crook with a bug. This was where the camper came in to its own, as we could let him sleep while I took the kids for a walk and swim. It was here when we decided to slowly work our way back up north. After figuring out where to go next, we hit the road. It was Mother’s Day and we hit Hamilton right on lunchtime – the WORST time, but we managed to score ourselves a table at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion, where there happened to be a cat show on, delighting us all. (Well, not Adam.)
“Let’s go to Port Waikato,” said Adam, reading off a travelling app on his phone. “Says here it’s nice.”
“Sure,” I said.
That’s what I loved about the camper van. Spontaneity.
It’s a rough-around-the-edges town, but the coast. My god.
And that black, sparkly sand!
By that night, I’d caught Adam’s fever and cough. The kids were banished to one end of the camper while we slept at the other. (They didn’t get sick. It’s a miracle.)
“Let’s go to Clarks Beach,” said Adam, reading off a travelling app on his phone. “Says here it’s nice. Plus, it’s close-ish to the airport, so we can get there in plenty of time for tomorrow’s flight.”
“Sure,” I said, wrapped up in a blanket, teeth chattering.
We didn’t let sickness stop us – oh, no. (Let’s just stop again and thank all the powers for the warm, clear weather, with the exception for Rotorua.)
Clarks Beach was just what we needed for our last stop. Calm waters, green grass, cotton ball clouds.
In the Taupo video, you’ll see these places, plus a little montage of other sights.
The other night, after watching the Rotorua video, Riley suddenly grabbed me for a fierce hug.
“What was that for, buddy?” I said, laughing.
“I just had the best time over there,” he said.
We all did.
Thanks again to Britz for helping fulfill this Living List goal, providing us a campervan to travel around New Zealand. It was wonderful.