Member's Enchanting Moment
- New Zealand
“It reminds me too vividly of the fate theologians have promised me.” George Bernard Shaw ruminates on his colourful past as he visits the thermal area of Hell’s Gate.
New Zealand is a country of great natural beauty and variety. One of the country’s most popular attractions is Rotorua, located in central North Island, which offers the visitor a unique experience with its geothermal landscapes of bubbling mud and sulphuric emissions.
Marama Resort is located on the northern shore of the magnificently roiling Lake Rotorua, and is a scenic 25-minute drive from the city of Rotorua.
Situated far enough from the sulphuric fumes of the city centre, yet near enough to most of the main tourist attractions, Marama Resort is a fairly convenient and relaxing place at which to stay. The individual bachs are cozy and well-designed, with full kitchen conveniences and ample heating. Each has a deck that looks out onto the canal outside, and there is access to small patches of greenery that make nice picnic areas.
Finding your way there is fairly uncomplicated, and even takes you past two of the must-see sights of Rotorua as you pass by the village of Ngongotaha: the Agrodome, with its cute, family-friendly sheep show; and the Skyline Skyride, which carries you up Mount Ngongotaha for a scenic buffet lunch or dinner spread.
If arriving much past the usual check-in hours of 12-1pm, we would suggest that you ring up reception to advise of your late arrival. The office closes at 6pm, but the friendly manager will ensure that your keys are ready for pick-up anyway. Also available at Reception are tour bookings.
Must-see places in Rotorua include Whakarewarena, a large thermal area now divided into two sections (read up and decide which section you want to visit, as each area has a separate entrance and charges separate fees). We visited the NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institutes, and enjoyed the outing immensely: the spectacular Pohutu geyser spouted continuously as we were there. The cultural performances, included in the entrance ticket, are a short but delightful introduction to the richness of Maori tradition.
The thermal area borders the Whakarewarena Forest, which offers several walking trails through redwoods and other exotic trees.
Wai-O-Tapu is another thermal experience, with tracks that wend their way through a series of small but colourful lakes with equally colourful names such as Devil’s Ink-Pots. If visiting the reserve, be sure to arrive in good time (before 9.45am) to ensure a ticket for the 10.15am spouting of the Lady Knox Geyser.
Warning: the weather in Rotorua seems to be of the capricious sort. The first day we were there, we experienced heavy showers, brief spurts of intense sunshine, followed by more unremitting rain. Your stay in the thermal wonderland of Rotorua will be greatly enhanced if you just go with the flow ie. keep calm and stop worrying about the weather, constantly carry with you an umbrella or a waterproof jacket, and just enjoy some of the most otherworldly, colourful and smelly sights Mother Nature has to offer.
We had a very comfortable 5-day stay at Rotorua, and found Marama Resort a most suitable base for our activities. Each morning, the children enjoyed breakfast and a spot of TV before we headed out for a full day of sightseeing, returning only late in the evening. The beauty and uniqueness of Rotorua’s geothermal treasures are unsurpassed, and our stay there remains a memorable part of our journey around the North Island.
Chew Phye Keat