Two of the top spots to explore in North Island is Rotorua and Taupo. Countless travelers and online recommendations all point towards these two destinations. I am not sure about my travelmates, but I surely have a certain level of expectations over these attraction.We headed to Rotorua first. Rotorua is known for the thermal springs and spas heated by the geothermal activity. You know you have reached Rotorua when you are greeted with rotten egg-like sulfuric smell. People say you get used to the smell after awhile – I think I disagree.
Taking the recommendations of many, we visited Rotorua’s must-see, Waiotapu. This is New Zealand’s most colorful geothermal attraction. We left our hostel extra early in order to see the Lady Knox geyser erupting at 10:15AM every morning. The geyser is manually ignited to erupt at a set time with natural stimulants. I was looking forward to seeing this since I have never seen a geyser erupt before. It was a bit underwhelming because it did not shoot really high and all it really is is water shooting upwards at a fast speed. After the eruption of Lady Knox, we went deeper into the thermal wonderland and followed the walking trail to visit the different craters and mud pools. This is certainly the most popular tourist attraction we have visited thus far. While it was interesting to see such vibrant and differently colored pools, the crowd of tourists detract from the experience.
After Waiotapu, we drove around for a bit to find the entrances to the blue (Lake Tikitapu) and green (Lake Rotokakahi) lakes. I think the allergy medicine from the night before did not wear off during the day so I was extremely drowsy the whole time. I tried to stay awake for the car ride, but I ended up napping for the most part. After circling the area for some time, we finally found our way to the Blue Lake (it’s really blue). It was so peaceful and quiet there with only 2 other people insight. One thing that I really do appreciate about New Zealand is the sparse population spread across the country. One can easily find nice scenery they can enjoy all to themselves.
The visit to Rotorua and the surrounding concluded with stops to the Redwood Forest and Hamuranga Springs. It was a nice change in scenery to visit a forest. Redwood had tall beautiful trees that gave me the feeling of an eager child trekking through the forest full of curiosity and innocence. I have noticed that I particularly enjoy the forest visits in my past travels. I cannot tell if that if because I do not visit forests enough so when I do it is a treasured novelty or that I simply really like forests. Redwood had an unexplainable charm to it. It was the perfect spot to unwind after a long day on the road.