Explore a thriving center of breathtaking thermal activity and traditional Maori culture during this scenic, full-day visit to the historic spa town of Rotorua.
Depart the pier for the drive south from the early-1900s town of Tauranga to Te Puke, the world's largest kiwifruit growing region. Upon arrival in Rotorua, a visit will be made to the Agrodome to watch the country's best-trained champion rams parade on stage, and a sheep-shearing demonstration. The highly-trained sheep dogs will finish the show with a display of sheep mustering.
Drive past the Rotorua lakefront where you may see a variety of waterfowl, including ducks and graceful black swans as well as several local landmarks before arriving . 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 “haka,” a fierce, challenging dance which is accompanied by a chant.
After lunch visit Te Puia, the home to the internationally renowned spouting Pohutu geyser and boasts silica terraces, pools of boiling mud and dramatic steams vents but best of all, your guide is a Maori who is keen to share the fascinating local lore and legends of this wonderful country. You will then view the reserve's fascinating re-creation of an early Maori village, and also have time to purchase souvenirs in the gift shop, including traditional Maori carvings.
At Te Puia's Maori Arts & Crafts Institute, where for the past 45 years, visitors have enjoyed this unique journey into the Maori's rich heritage. Their mission is all about preserving the ancient skills and rich culture of the Maori, and to that end, young people from across New Zealand are selected as apprentices. Here, the students learn skills ranging from carving to weaving, along with creating flax skirts and patterned bodices, and you will see all this at close hand. A strong sulfur smell, a product of the intense thermal activity, will fill the air. Remember to bring your cameras on this exciting geothermal experience.
Following your tour, you will re-board your coach for the 1.5-hour return drive to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves approximately 3 hours of total driving time. The order of sites visited may vary.