Huka Falls + Lava Glass Blowing Studio

This weekend was such great weather that I couldn’t resist making the most of it. No way was I going to stay indoors ! I decided to go have some prawns at Huka Prawn Park which is an hour’s drive from Rotorua. You can do more activities there such as prawn fishing and prawn feeding but we only stayed for a meal. The prawns are super juicy and fresh, it’s delicious! But if you’re not prepared to fork out some big money for the meal, I suggest you go eat somewhere else or bring your own food ! It cost us $50 for 500gm of prawns, and $20 for a prawn chowder. The view there is amazing though and you get to see all the people that line up for the Huka jet as well.

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Huka Prawn Park

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Lunch at Huka Prawn Park

After lunch, I drove down to Huka falls and the water there is just amazingly clear. Its very aqua blue and you can hear the roar of the rapids from the carpark. Its a very short walk to see the rapids and falls itself so its great for people who hate walking. Theres also tracks there (I saw a 2hr one) for people that enjoy tramping or mountain biking. It was very busy the day I went as it is a very popular destination.

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Huka Falls

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Huka Falls

On the drive towards Huka prawn park, the Lava Glass Studio caught my eye so I decided to make a pit stop there on my way back home. When you go in, there is a beautiful array of glass creations on sale which are very unique that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. They make great gifts and they also do free shipping to other countries if its too heavy/big for you to take back. Unforunately you aren’t allowed to take any photos in the studio so I couldn’t show you how beautiful they are. The guy who makes these creations is very popular and is often asked to make specific items on request. They also have a little cafe for you to enjoy a drink or some snacks. His wife handles the front of the studio and you can pay $5 to go into his workshop and watch how the lava glass is made. I thought that was very affordable and very interesting as it’s not something you get to see everyday. They are happy for you to take photos inside his workshop as well as the outdoor lava glass garden. The lava glass garden is $7.50 and if you want to see both its $10. They also give you a $5 discount on any purchase you make if you do pay to see either of these activities.

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Lava Glass Workshop

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Lava Cog Creation

The lava glass studio is quite small but it’s a nice walk to see the array of art that hes made. There were some beautiful flowers, spheres, trees, fish trap, mushrooms and lilypads all made from glass!

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There is just so much to do in Bay of Plenty with everything so close to each other, you feel like you want to do everything. This area of New Zealand is great for tourists and visitors so try and stop by this region for a few days if you can. It doesn’t lose the cultural festivity and traditions of New Zealand even though they thrive on tourism. You can still sense the amazing local community and witness the friendliness and kindheartedness that NZ is famous for.

-medlabgeek

White Water Rafting Okere Falls

A few days after New Years, I went on a road trip with some friends before driving back to Rotorua for work. We decided to all go white water rafting, which I was super keen to try because I’ve never done it before. Boy was I missing out! I loved it! I was really nervous beforehand because I knew we were going down a 7 metre waterfall which sounded hugeeee to me and I was scared of all these rapids on the river. But our guide Jamie was great and made everyone feel so hyped and ready to take on this challenge! The place we went to was called Rotorua Rafting (they are number 1 on trip advisor if you search rafting at Okere falls). I highly recommend this place ! It costs $85 pp but if you come with a group you get a discount. They do take some photos of you and you can see all of them before deciding if you want to purchase the photos which are $40 and given on a USB. If you come as a group like I did, you can split that cost and share the photos to each other so it would be even cheaper.

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We were given a quick intro on how to manoeuvre the paddles and what to do for certain commands and away we went. The rapids weren’t as bad as I thought and we even got to jump out the raft and slide down the rapids with our bodies lying flat on our backs! They gave us heaps of opportunities to experience the river and take some pit stops. We all got to climb up a mini cliff and jump off it into the river and swim towards our raft. Everyone had life jackets and a helmet on so I felt perfectly safe with them. They also had two solo kayaker’s that came along to help anyone if someone couldn’t swim or anything went awry. You can definitely tell that all the guides are very experienced on the river so you don’t feel like you’re in danger at all.

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I sat in the front with my friend but they all picked me to sit on the front of the raft and hold on to some ropes while they all sat on the back and paddled me through a mini waterfall and that was amazing! I made it through without falling but my “friends” pushed me off afterwards haha

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The guide also tries to paddle you head first into some rapids to experience the water pouring over you, I got to sit in the front and ended up literally sitting under a mini waterfall with the water pouring in front of me which was surreal! The whole trip took around 1.5 hours, we started at 4.30pm and it finished at 6 but after getting changed and looking at the photos before leaving, it was a good 2 hours. During good weather their last session is at 4.30 but during winter when the days are shorter, their last session is at 3. I recommend you book in advance as they are really busy. Even though we had 29 of us at the 4.30 session, we still had heaps of fun because all the groups were split off with their own guide and raft so we felt like we were still by ourselves.

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After having dinner, we all decided to relax. What better way to relax than a thermal spa 😀 We went to the infamous Polynesian spa in Rotorua which opens till 11pm and on a good night you can lie in the hot pools and look at the starry sky. I can honestly say that the pools there really do work wonders for you. My skin felt amazing after the soak. It was silky smooth and they had signs for each of the pools that tell you what they are generally used for such as aches and pains etc. The only downside is the smell of sulphur that gets into your hair so tie it up if you have long hair! (It still smelt after I washed it).

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I can’t wait to go white water rafting again, maybe even try black water rafting in the future !

-medlabgeek

Julian’s Berry Farm and Cafe

It’s almost Christmas! I love the atmosphere during this time of year, everyone gets so into the holiday spirit. For most of you, your Christmas is probably a lot different to mine. For me, it consists of relaxing at a park or beach, going on road trips, getting a tan, picnics and BBQ’s and a nice refreshing cold beverage.

My best friend came down to visit me over the weekend and I thought what better way to start off the Christmas season than berry picking. This time of the year is the perfect time for berries but just make sure to go earlier during the day to avoid the sweltering heat! And DON’T think you can get away from wearing sunscreen. Protect yourselves people. The sun can be very dangerous, especially in NZ.

Julian’s Berry Farm is an hour away from Rotorua, down in Whakatane and it is very busy and popular. However you don’t feel crowded at all when picking so there’s plenty of time and room to pick without feeling rushed or cramped. What’s so great about this place is that they don’t just have one kind of berry, but a whole variety of berries to pick from. It’s also a great place for kids as they have a mini golf course and a little farm zoo where you can go in for free or pay $1.50 if you want to get some animal feed. If you get hungry from all the picking (which I doubt from all the berries around you), they have a cafe which is settled under a really nice covered outer deck. They also sell fresh berry ice cream / frozen yoghurt and packaged fresh fruit if you don’t feel like picking them yourselves. When we went, strawberries were really juicy vibrant and sweet. I tried the other berries (i.e. blackberry, raspberry, ranui berry etc) but they were too sour for me so I just stuck with good ol’ strawberries 🙂

You can find this all on the website but it costs $18 for around 1kg of PYO; $26 for 1.8kg and $40 for 2.8kg. If you pick only strawberries it’s a bit cheaper. They also show you what is the best time of the year to pick certain berries on their website.

Views of the strawberry fields

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There are more photos of the berry section and kids farm below.

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Skyline, Kuirau Park and Agrodome Rotorua

On the weekend, my family drove down to visit me, and we took it as a chance to celebrate my mum’s birthday which was on a Tuesday. I decided to shout the family lunch at the Stratosfare Restaurant.

The skyline isn’t as high as the one in Queenstown, but once you get up there, the view is just wonderful. The weather was clear and sunny, so we could see across the lake and you can also get a great view on the whole of Rotorua. I opted for the package option which includes the gondola ride up as well as the buffet lunch for $55 per adult. If that is too pricey, you can always eat at the cafe which is right next door or bring your own lunch 🙂 Everyone is able to see the same view so you would not be disadvantaged. It was such a lovely day that lots of people sat outdoors and ate packed lunches. If you haven’t been on a luge before then I highly suggest you spend money on that instead ! It’s great fun for kids and adults and you will not regret it. Because I live in NZ, I’ve been on them plenty of times so we didn’t do the luge this time, and focused on making the most of our buffet instead 😛

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After the buffet, we traveled back down and looked at some of the geothermal springs within the town. The one at Kuirau park is quite nice to stroll around (and it is free). There are also little foot pools within the park where the water comes from the springs for you to feel the temperature and have a nice foot soak so wear some sandals if you plan on giving it a try !

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We then went and attended the farm tour at Agrodome. It was veeeerrrryyy busy and packed full of tourists so if you plan on going, book early! We had booked online in advance but when we arrived, they had overbooked and we were about to be turned away (with a refund) until 7 people had cancelled because they were annoyed with the Agrodome. But because of that, my family and I had to sit all over the place throughout the tour 😦

The tour is a bit more expensive than the show and in my opinion, the show is a lot better, you get to see how sheep are sheared and farm dogs show you how they herd the sheep as well as get to feed lambs (but I went when I was very young).

The tour is an hour-long and a tractor carries the group around the farm, showing you the type of farm animals they have and what they are used for, the kiwifruit orchard, manuka plants, olive tree’s as well as let you taste some kiwifruit juice and NZ honey. The highlight is when they let you feed some of the animals with pellets provided. If you are traveling to NZ and your home country does not have many farm’s then this would be great for you as you can get up close to the farm animals and see the day-to-day activities of a farm in NZ.

 

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Red deer

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Llama’s are so cute in a dorky way!

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Baby llama

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-medlabgeek

Government Gardens 

So now that I’ve been staying at Rotorua for my placement, I’ve been exploring the many wonderful places Rotorua has to offer. The first place I visited on my days off was the government gardens! It’s very similar to Auckland Domain and Hamilton Gardens but on a much smaller scale. The famous architectural building is the Rotorua Art Museum and it really is a beautiful building and great for family photos.

Rotorua Art Museum

Among the grounds is a small rose garden which is bright and colourful and a great place to sit and read a book or nap under the shade.

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There are also lots of well maintained flat areas of lawn where locals come to play croquet so if you happen to come on a day that they are there, feel free to watch !

On the other side of the museum is the blue pools building. There is an admission fee to go inside and see the blue pools as well as swim in it. It can also be hired for private functions. On the right of the building is a small thermal spring for people to see.

Blue pools

There are also quite a few art sculptures and small gardens on the premises which are really lovely.

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Right around the gardens is the lake where you can do water activities and relax. Or if you are more fitness savvy, there is a trail you can walk that takes you right around the lake. The views are quite nice but during the time I went, there were ALOT of little flies soaking up sun in the middle of the path buzzing at your head level so I suggest you bring a hat and sunglasses to cover up. The sulphur smell is also quite strong and it reminded me of a very strong salty beach.

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Overall it’s a great place to visit, walk around, take photos and enjoy the nature around you. Besides, it’s free ! So it’s great if you’re on a tight budget and have spare time in this wonderful city 🙂

-medlabgeek

Wingspan National Centre

Last weekend I went to Wingspan in Rotorua to look at national birds of prey within New Zealand. They are situated around 10mins away from Rotorua city itself. The museum and aviary are quite small and takes around 30mins to 1 hour to see everything depending on if you want to take your time and take some photos. The main highlight is the show at 2pm so be sure to arrive there a bit earlier so you can get good seats as most people arrive at 1.30pm to catch the show. I arrived there around 12 and there was only 6 of us walking around with heaps of car park spaces left but by the end of the show, the carpark was all filled up. The centre closes at 3pm so it’s a really good half day activity if you don’t have much time to do anything else or if you have some spare time and don’t know what to do then drop by for a visit!

The main entrance where you pay also gives you free drinks like tea and coffee and they also have blankets and umbrella’s for you to bring outside if it rains or you get cold (though it is summer here now).

It costs $20 for an adult and all proceeds go to them helping out the birds as it is not funded by the government. The work they do is amazing and the staff there are all very knowledgeable about the birds. Though the show starts at 2pm for NZ falcons, there was a Harrier talk at 1.30 pm during her feeding time so if you sit there a bit earlier you can see the harrier as well.

On the day I went, there were NZ Falcon chicks around 21 and 24 days old so at the end of the show they brought them out for us to look and take photos (though we couldn’t touch). That was very interesting and something I would probably never see again so I was really lucky to go at that time! I was also lucky enough to get chosen to hold one of the falcons on my arm while they fed! They can get through quite a number of people so if you are keen then don’t be shy and definitely put your hand up.

Below are some photos I took from the day, enjoy! 🙂

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-medlabgeek