A scenic drive through the kiwifruit orchards of Te Puke begins your tour as you travel to Rotorua. Originally established as a spa town before the turn of the century, Rotorua today remains a thriving center of thermal activity and traditional Maori culture.
Your first stop is at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Wai-O-Tapu translates to Sacred Waters and a visit here makes it clear how the name came to be. Upon arrival at this award-winning attraction, you will be taken on a guided tour of the wide range of features found at the site. These include geysers, mud pools, mineral traces, colorful hot and cold pools and steaming volcanic lakes. Some of the more famous attractions at the Reserve include the pristine Champagne Pool and the Lady Knox Geyser. Marvel at the incredible palette of vibrant hues displayed in the pools, lakes and craters, and enjoy the melodic sounds of birds singing in the native forest.
Leaving the unspoiled beauty of the Reserve behind, you'll next make your way back to Rotorua and the Skyline Gondola terminal. Here, you'll embark one of the aerial gondolas for an awesome ride up the side of Mount Ngongotaha, enjoying panoramic vistas of Lake Rotorua, the city and surrounding areas. Arriving at the top of the mountain, the Skyline Restaurant, with its unparalleled views, is where you'll be treated to a delicious buffet lunch. During lunch, a local Maori Kapa Haka group will entertain you by performing many traditional action songs, including the poi where the action is enhanced by the use of flaxen balls on strings - the item from which the song takes its name, and the haka, a challenging dance which is accompanied by a chant.
Following lunch, you'll travel back down the mountain for a guided tour of Rainbow Springs. This marvelous park is set in a natural environment of beautiful native bush, trees, plants and flowers, with tranquil crystal clear waters that flow from subterranean springs. In addition to being home to an impressive collection of Rainbow trout, the Park also houses a vast array of native birds, including the kiwi, New Zealand's national bird. Just one of the many fascinating features of the Park is the Tuatara - New Zealand's living dinosaur. Dating back to the early Triassic period, the Tuatara has survived for over 100 million years, possible only because New Zealand became separated from other land masses and the Tuatara had no natural predators. Regrettably, rats were introduced to New Zealand and these rodents have served to devastate the Tuatara population, making them an endangered species. In addition to the fine displays of nature, Rainbow Springs also serves to preserve New Zealand's national heritage.
Your return journey to the ship will consist of a drive past the Rotorua lakefront where you may see a variety of water fowl including ducks and graceful black swans as well as several local landmarks, before retracing your route back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes significant walking and/or standing and may not be suitable for wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns. Comfortable flat walking shoes and caps are recommended. The order of the sites visited may be reversed. This tour does not operate with a separate guide, but rather with a driver/guide.