Agrodome Rotorua

Agrodome is 350 acre New Zealand working farm located just 10 minutes from Rotorua city centre.

Agrodome

Agrodome

Most visitors come to see their one hour Farm Show, which includes an introduction to 19 breeds of sheep and their Border Collie sheep dogs, a live sheep shearing demonstration, and mock sheep auction with bids from willing and not so willing participants from the audience.

Some members of the audience are invited on stage to hand milk a cow and feed baby lambs from a bottle.

They do three shows per day at 9.30 am, 11.00 am, and 2 pm.

Farm Show

Farm Show

Following the sheep show there is a free live dog trial in the sheep herding pen outdoors.

It pays to arrive before the Farm Show and check out the Farmyard Nursery, which offers guests the opportunity to pat small farm animals.

The Nursery

Farmyard Nursery

They also offer one hour tours of the farm, which depart at 10.40 am, 12.10 pm, 1.30 pm and 3.40 pm. On the tour visitors will see alpacas, cattle, deer, llamas, ostrich, pigs, and sheep. The tour also visits the fruit orchards and olive grove. There is the opportunity to taste kiwifruit juice, kiwifruit wine and honey.

There is also a shearing museum and gift shop with a 1906 Platt wool-carding machine. Ask staff when they do demonstrations. The gift shops sells a variety of sheepskin and wool products, leather goods, natural skin products and New Zealand souvenirs.

Shearing Museum

Shearing Museum

Rainbow Springs Rotorua

Rainbow Springs is a 22 acre wildlife park in Rotorua set amongst native trees and streams.

Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs

The park is located on Fairy Springs Road, next door to another popular attraction Skyline Rotorua. Rainbow Springs is open every day from 8.30 am till late. The last ticket is sold during winter at 9.30 pm, and 10 pm in the summer.

It is $40 for adult, $36 senior, $20 child (3-15 years). There are also family pass and annual passes available. They also do combo tickets for Rainbows Springs and Mitai Māori Village or the Agrodome.

The park, which first opened in 1932, has several walk through free flight aviaries where visitors can walk amongst branded rail, kaka, kākāriki, kereru, kingfisher and teal. There are also kea, morepork and weka enclosures.

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Bird aviaries and enclosures

Bird aviaries and enclosures

Streams flow throughout the park with hundreds of wild trout, such as rainbow, brown and tiger trout. Guests can get a bag of fish food to feed the trout from reception. There is also an underwater viewing area to see the large trout up close.

There is a tuatara and exotic lizards enclosure with mature and juvenile tuatara, as well as skinks, geckos, blue tongue lizards, water dragons and the Southern Belle Frog on display.

Each day at 11:30 am there is a free-flight Bird show held in a purpose built 384 seat outdoor auditorium. Once the doors are closed guests are not permitted to enter so aim to be seated at least 5 minutes before the show.

Bird Show

Bird Show

There is an excellent Kiwi enclosure with informative displays and a chance to spot scurrying kiwi. The outdoor kiwi enclosure has no glass and only a knee high fence. They also offer the opportunity to upgrade to a 30 minute Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter Tour. This guided tour costs $10 and covers the incubation, hatch and nursery rooms. If you are lucky you may get to see staff weighing a kiwi and recording its growth.

In 2012 Rainbow Springs opened their newest attraction The Big Splash, which is a nine minute flume ride that travels through New Zealand’s ecological evolution from dinosaurs and the Moa to the arrival of Māori and Europeans. The ride ends with 12 metre drop and splash. The Big Splash operates between 9am and 5pm with unlimited rides.

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The Big Splash

The Big Splash

There is also an interactive children’s playground and exotic bird aviaries located near The Big Splash.

The Wairere Café is located next two trout pools and a 4 metre high water fall. It is open 9am to 4pm (weekends 5pm) with indoor and outdoor seating. They do a variety of hot food, sandwiches, savouries and cakes.

Wairere Café

Wairere Café

Tamaki Maori Village

Tamaki Māori Village Evening Experience is a 3 hour interactive Māori cultural performance and dinner show in Rotorua.

Cultural performance at Tamaki Māori Village

Cultural performance at Tamaki Māori Village

A Tamaki Māori Village coach will pick guests up from their central Rotorua accommodation and transport them to a traditional pre European Māori Village located in a native forest in Ngakuru, 15 minutes from central Rotorua.

On the way to the village the bus driver teaches some key Māori words, explains Māori migration to Aotearoa New Zealand and describes the protocols for the Pōwhiri (a welcoming ceremony). A chief is selected to represent that bus group (tribe).

Visitors are welcomed by a Pōwhiri

Visitors are welcomed by a Pōwhiri

At the village guests are welcomed with a Pōwhiri . The selected Chiefs (one from each bus) will stand at the front of the group with a guide.

For international visistors the wero seems to be the most memorable and impressive part of the Pōwhiri. Three Māori warriors who emerge from the village in traditional dress to perform a challenge. During this challenge the three warriors make gestures with their ceremonial weapons. The third warrior lays down symbolic offering of peace (usually a branch / leaf). One of the Chiefs will be selected to pick up the offering signally that group has come in peace.

Following the Pōwhiri the group moves into the Māori Village where they are divided into small groups and move around various activity stations where they participate in stick games, warrior training, poi and haka, and learn about weaving and facial tattooing.

Learning stick games

Learning stick games

Weaving demonstration

Weaving demonstration

After this guests will witness the lifting on the hangi. Hangi is a traditional style of cooking for Māori where the food is cooked in a covered pit in the ground with heated stones.

Cooked in the hangi pit was chicken, lamb, potatoes, kumara (sweet potato), carrots, stuffing and steamed pudding for dessert.

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Lifting of the hangi

Lifting of the hangi

While staff prepare to serve the hangi the group will make their way into meeting house where they will be entertained with Māori cultural show.

The hangi is served buffet style. As well as the meat and vegetables cooked in the hangi pit there was also steamed mussels and fish, traditional Māori bread and garden salad. For dessert as well as the Hangi steamed pudding with custard there was also pavlova and fruit salad. They offer vegetarian and gluten free options that can be arranged when booking.

Buffet Hangi Dinner

Buffet Hangi Dinner

During the dinner there is more songs and the opportunity to perform the All Blacks haka.

When the evening is done guests are transferred back to their accommodation.

Eat Streat Rotorua

Eat Streat is Rotorua’s newest outdoor dining destination.

Eat Street

Eat Streat

The covered pedestrian mall of bars and eateries is located on the lakefront end of Tutanekai Street between Pukaki and Whakaue Streets. The 2 million dollar project has a timber structure as its focal point, highlighting the importance of Rotorua district’s forestry and wood processing industry. The walkway features a patterned concrete design. There is a geothermal heating underlay for warmth during the cold winter months. At night the walkway is lit up with hundred of coloured LED lights. The project opened to the public on December 20 2013. There are restaurants, cafes, bars and a ice cream parlour for locals and visitors to savour.

Eat Street

Eat Streat

Sulphur Lake Rotorua

Sulphur Lake is located at the southern end of Government Gardens.

Sulphur Lake

‘Anchor Peace’ by Jocelyn Pratt – Sulphur Lake

This artificial lake was created around 1908 to provide a tranquil setting for patients at the nearby Sanatorium Hospital and Bath House.

Over the years the pathways around the lake had become neglected, so in 2013 a project begun to clear the vegetation and establish new pathways. A new footbridge, the Memorial Bridge, was built using recycled materials from the footbridge that use to cross Utuhina Stream. The Memorial Bridge was dedicated at an official opening on 5 August 2014 to start Rotorua’s World War I centennial commemorations.

'Gallipoli' by Logan Okiwi Shipgood - Memorial Bridge

‘Gallipoli’ by Logan Okiwi Shipgood – Memorial Bridge

Currently there are 17 sculptures dotted around the lake as part of the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail. These sculptures were created for Rotorua’s first Sculpture Symposium, which was held from 29 November to 12 December 2014. The artworks are based on the theme ‘The Returning Soldier’, and are on display as part of WWI commemorations.

Sulphur Lake has a close connection in the recuperation and healing process for returned soldiers, who would walk the perimeter of the lake.

Sulphur Lake

Sulphur Lake

The sculptures are for sale. Any sculpture that is sold will be replaced with a similar piece of work by the artist. The works will stay on view until the next sculpture symposium in late 2016.

As part of the symposium judges selected Anna Korver’s piece ‘The White Mouse’, depicting New Zealand war heroine Nancy Wake, to win a $10,000 prize and be part of the Council’s permanent art collection. The Council also purchased a second piece ‘The Ghost Soldier’ by Rory McDougall. The Rotorua Energy Trust has purchased a further two pieces for the city ‘Forever Remembered’ by Paul Bottomley and ‘Tank Tramp’ by Jamie Pickernell. These four pieces will remain on display on the sculpture trail.

The sculpture symposium will be held every two years.

'The Ghost Soldier' by Rory McDougall

‘The Ghost Soldier’ by Rory McDougall

Tank Trap by Jamie Pickernell

Tank Trap by Jamie Pickernell

'See You Soon' by Rakei Kingi

‘See You Soon’ by Rakei Kingi

 

Government Gardens Rotorua

Government Gardens is a public park located in central Rotorua.

Government Gardens

Government Gardens

In 1880 Ngāti Whakaue gifted this land to the Crown for the ‘benefit of all people of the world’. Originally the land was a swampy scrub-covered geothermal wilderness. The scrub was cleared and formal gardens were planted, including large imported trees, such as Japanese firs and California weeping redwoods.

Government Gardens is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a nationally significant historic area. There is a heritage trail with 28 points of interest with information boards. Visitors can follow the numbered boards to explore the history of the park.

Government Gardens Heritage Trail Map

Government Gardens Heritage Trail Map

The main entrance to Government Gardens (off Hinemaru Street) is framed by the Prince’s Arch Gates. The wooden arch gates were first erected at the intersection of Fenton and Hinemoa Streets in 1901 for the Royal Visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwell.

After the royal visit the gates were moved to be the entrance to Government Gardens.

Prince's Arch Gates

Prince’s Arch Gates

Also near the entrance is the Te Rūnanga Tearooms and Band Rotunda. Te Rūnanga was built in 1903 as a tea pavilion where Māori girls in traditional dress would serve guests while they relaxed. The tearooms closed in 1933 following the opening of the Blue Baths tearooms. The building was then used as bowling pavilion until 1991. The tearooms were restored and reopened in 1993, exactly 90 years after its original opening.

The Band Rotunda was built in 1900. During the tourist season brass bands would entertain from the rotunda in the evenings. The rotunda was also used to deliver important speeches. New Zealand’s longest serving Prime Minister Richard Seddon (in office 1893 – 1906) once spoke there for an hour and a half.

Te Rūnanga Tearooms

Te Rūnanga Tearooms

Band Rotunda

Band Rotunda

Between the entrance and the backdrop of the Bath House building, which now houses the Rotorua Museum, is an ornamental pond and landscaped garden. Within in the garden is the Wylie Memorial. This statue unveiled in 1904 commemorates Fred Wylie, who was the son of one the first store keepers in Rotorua and a young soldier who fought in the Boer War. Wylie was killed in action Klipfontein in 26th May 1901.

There are also beautifully maintained lawns for bowls, croquet, and petanque.

Ornamental pond and garden

Ornamental pond and garden

As well as the impressive Bath House building there is also the Blue Baths. This Spanish Mission style building was completed in 1933. The Blue Baths were the first public pools to allow male and female patrons in the same pool. The popular baths closed in 1982 but after a restoration project opened again in 1999. It now hosts a heated pool, museum, and tearooms. The Blue Baths are open daily 10am to 6pm.

Another piece of history is the Rachel Pool or Whangapīpiro. The pool, which has a temperature of 212 degree Fahrenheit, was renamed the Rachel Pool after Madam Rachel, an English cosmetician, who claimed youthful complexions as a result of the silica water softening the skin. The water from this pool was originally piped into the Pavilion Bath, and later to the Bath House. Today the water is piped to the nearby Polynesian Spa. The bathing pools at Polynesian Spa are open 10am to 11pm daily.

Blue Baths

Blue Baths

Rachel Pool

Whangapīpiro – also known as the Rachel Pool

As well as Wylie Memorial there is also a war memorial located on the corner of Queens and Oruawhata Drives. The Arawa Soldiers’ Memorial was erected to remember the sons of the Te Arawa people who died during World War I. The memorial was unveiled in 1927 by the Duke of York (later King George VI).

A Krupps field gun, which was cast in 1898 and used during World War I, sits next to the memorial. It is believed this field gun was captured by the Pioneer Battalion of Māori soliders in France. After being in storage for many years at Te Amorangi Museum it was restored in 1998.

Behind the war memorial there is also a children’s playground and a rose garden.

Te Arawa Soliders' Memorial and Krupp gun

The Arawa Soliders’ Memorial and Krupp gun

Waitūkei Scultpure by Lyonel Grant (2001)

Waitūkei Scultpure by Lyonel Grant (2001)

Government Gardens

Government Gardens

 

Rotorua Museum

Rotorua Museum is a local history museum and art gallery located in Government Gardens in Rotorua.

Rotorua Museum

Rotorua Museum

The museum is housed in the historic Bath House building. The Bath House opened it 1908 offering therapeutic geothermal spa treatments. It closed in 1966 and the museum opened in the south wing in 1969. Later in 1977 the art gallery opened in the north wing.

The museum is open from 9am daily (except Christmas Day). March to November the museum closes at 5pm and December to February it closes at 6pm. Entry is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $8 for children (5-15 years). Admission is free to Rotorua residents with relevant ID.

Museum staff also offer one hour guided tours, which is included in the admission price.

A good place to start is the cinema. Rotorua Stories, is a short film presented by actor and former Rotorua resident Temuera Morrison, which explores Rotorua’s volcanic landscape, the Pink and White Terraces, the Mount Tarawera eruption and history of the Bath House. The film runs every 20 minutes and although the special effects are now dated it is still very informative and entertaining.

Taking the Cure: The story behind the Bath House building is a permanent exhibition, which outlines the history and purpose of the Bath House. Visitors can view the remains of the baths, pools, and cooling rooms.

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Taking the Cure: The story behind the Bath House building

The mud bath basement is located under the building and is accessed through a basement walkway. Hard hats are provided as the ceilings are low. There are four remaining mud baths pretty much as they were when the building first opened.

In the attic visitors can see the lighting and ventilation operations used in the Bath House. From the attic there are stairs to a rooftop platform offering views of Government Gardens, Lake Rotorua and Sulphur Bay. It was closed when I visited due to weather conditions.

Ngā Pūmanawa o Te Arawa – The Beating Hearts of Te Arawa is the other main permanent exhibition, which explores the Te Arawa people’s journey from Hawaiki to Aotearoa. There is also exhibits on the Pink and White Terraces and the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and the aftermath. No photography is permitted in this gallery.

There is also a short documentary B Company Remembers with WWII veterans from the B Company 28 Māori Battalion and their families. It plays every half from 9.30am.

On the ground floor on the north wing is the Rotorua Trust Galleries, which features changing exhibitions. When I visited there was an exhibition Corrugations: The Art of Jeff Thomson, a sculptor best known for his work with corrugated iron. Thomson created the famous corrugated iron gumboot sculpture in Taihape.

There was also an exhibition Whiria: Weaving Global Connections, which explores indigenous weaving in New Zealand and internationally.

Garden (2010-2013). Corrugations: The Art of Jeff Thomson

Garden (2010-2013). Corrugations: The Art of Jeff Thomson

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Whiria: Weaving Global Connections

Upstairs on the level 1 there are two more art galleries, the Southern Trust Gallery and Chamber of Commerce Gallery. Both these galleries have changing exhibitions.

Also on the upstairs level is an exhibition on Tudor Towers, detailing the space’s transition from a restaurant to a cabaret venue and to a night club from 1965 to 1990.

Essential Details:

Rotorua Museum

Oruawhata Drive, Government Gardens, Rotorua