Our last day in Rotorua, we started with an easy hike at the Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest Park. It was originally home to nearly 200 tree species, planted around the turn of the century to see which could be grown successfully for timber. The radiata pine took off, but it’s the California redwoods that make this park so magnificient today. The park is only about a mile from the center of town. We hiked the Pohaturoa Track, a 5 mile route that led us through the forest and up to a nice lookout viewpoint.
The majority of geothermal areas in Rotorua have been commercialized (translation: pay a hefty entry fee to get close to them alongside buses full of tourists). There is, however, one place in town where you can experience geothermal goodness without all the hype – Kuirau Park. We decided to check it out.
Our last stop before leaving Rotorua was Rainbow Mountain, so named because of its colored slopes. The mountain has volcanic origins and is still visibly smoldering in spots. During the hike, I could feel the heat coming off the rocks alongside the trail. It was a strange sensation. At the bottom of Rainbow Mountain is a crater lake. After visiting the lake, we took the trail to the mountain’s peak for panoramic views of the surrounding area.
That’s it for Rotorua. Next up: Tongariro National Park.