A Sunday in Rotorua

This past weekend, we had a very mini break Rotorua. We flew up on Saturday at lunch time, so really only had one full day to do something, but I was there for work on the Monday, in case you think it a long way to go for such a short time.

The weather wasn’t that great, but the morning at least was dry, so we headed over to see the Blue Lake and Green Lake (Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokakahi).  There is a midway viewpoint where you can see both lakes, so we stopped there for a view.  The Blue Lake is used for recreation, and is actually a collapsed volcanic crater.  The Green Lake is 21m below the Blue Lake and is owned by the local iwi.

The Blue Lake
The Green Lake

From there we drove further down the road to the Buried Village of Te Wairoa, a really interesting archeological site.  The village of Te Wairoa was established by a Christian missionary in 1848 as a model village, but was obliterated by the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886.  Not only was the village wiped out, but the eruption also caused the disappearance of the Pink and White Terraces.  These terraces, sometimes referred to as the eight natural wonder of the world, were silica deposits were formed by geothermal springs.  They were an early tourist attraction, and attracted many European visitors. Parts of the terraces have been rediscovered in recent years, and it may be that some of these geological marvels will be able to be excavated.

View of Lake Tarawera (second largest of the region’s lakes)


Just after midnight on 10 June 1886, people in Te Wairoa, were woken up by a sequence of smaller earthquakes, followed by a much larger one, and finally massive explosions. Rocks, ashes and mud fell on the village, and eruption changed the local landscape.  There were around 150 people killed, and the event became New Zealand’s greatest natural disaster.

Entrance to the buried village is NZ $34. There is a small museum at the start, that explains the history and displays some found artefacts, from wine bottles to mud preserved shoes.  The archaeological site is linked by a meandering pathway and fills a 12 acre park-like setting.

A Māori house

The buildings have been excavated to the original floor levels, and you can see the depth of mud and volcanic ash.  Some have been reconstructed using the native materials that were once used, such as ponga, tree fern, and raupo rushes.

An original water tank from the hotel
The cellar of the hotel, which was still full of wine bottles when found

At the end of the walk, is a waterfall.  It was a bit wet and muddy, so rather than do the extra bit of the walk, we just stopped and took some pictures.

The waterfall
More water

After that, we went for some lunch to Nuvolari on the so called Eat Streat (sic), a street full of places to eat – would you believe.

Sunday lunch – pasta with prawn,  chorizo, pesto cream & toasted cashews

After lunch, it we went for a walk to the Government Gardens, home to Rotorua Museum, closed for earthquake strengthening. There were some really lovely ornamental cabbages in the flower beds, which I just love, both for their colours and shape.  We also spotted Rachel’s Spring, with water temperatures of 100C.

The closed museum in the background
212F or 100C water in the middle of town

After a lazy afternoon of reading, napping and drinking tea, we set off for dinner at Terrace Kitchen, which had come recommended.  We started with some really good, crisp pakora to share, and then I opted for the fish, which was swordfish on the day we were there.  Served with “watercress veloute, mild red pepper siracha, kawakawa  and pumpkin seed crumb” not to mention the excellent roast cauliflower, it was a good dish even though swordfish is not my favourite fish.  Karl had the beef sirloin, smoked and slow-roasted with black olive tapenade.  This was an exceedingly rich dish, though very tasty. We opted for the suggested wines, and were not disappointed with either. The best bit about the meal though was the potatoes…..I have no idea how they were cooked, but they were absolutely gorgeous.


So that was our Sunday in Rotorua….how was your Sunday?

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @blof678.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com


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