With another full day in Rotorua in front of us, and the forecast for great Summer weather, we planned plenty of outdoor activities, to make the best use of our sight-seeing time and burn off some kiddy energy!
Never fans of sleep-ins the kids were all up by 7am. We had breakfast in our Airbnb of eggs and hot cross buns – just because it was January doesn’t mean you can’t get started on HCB’s! We again tried to hurry the kids up so we could get out for morning hike before it become too hot.
Alas, it’s always like herding cats so it was after 9 before we left the house and the adults decided we definitely needed additional caffeine to assist with the lack of sleep-ins! We found a cafe in town with good coffee reviews for Anto to duck in and grab us coffees to go in our Keep Cups.
Pretty soon we were at Lake Tikitapu, also known as ‘The Blue Lake’ by the locals, due to it’s very blue water!
As we arrived at the lake it was obvious we weren’t going to have a peaceful hike as the place was already teaming with people and cars. There was an open water swimming event underway and a kids triathlon getting ready to start. Luckily we were in early enough to get a park and grabbed our hats and sunnies and set off to find the track around the lake.
The 5.5km track was well-signposted. We decided to go in an anti-clockwise direction, which seemed to be the more popular option. Despite the number of people in the parking area, the track was much less busy and thankfully quite shady as it was already 22 degrees Celsius.
It didn’t take long for Zinnia to fall asleep in the ergo while we were walking. She may have been peacefully napping but the other two talked non-stop!
The track on this side of the lake mostly ran through bush, but you did get frequent glimpses of the sparkling blue water.
We were passed by plenty of joggers using the lake track for their Saturday morning run. Astrid and Soren thought they’d time themselves on their Garmins, jogging, and kept taking off, hand-in-hand, for a little run. They can be cute when they want to be!
Lake Tikitapu gets it’s name from a legend that says that in ancient times the daughter of a high born chief was bathing in its crystal waters and wore a tiki (sacred greenstone neck ornament). The piece dislodged itself while she swam and the blue waters of the lake are believed to still be hiding the tiki tapu.
Lake Tikitapu sits alongside Lake Rotokakahi, known by locals as the Green Lake. Yes, you guessed it because it’s water is more green! As we neared the far side of Blue Lake, from where we had started, the path passes the adjacent Green Lake. We took a short detour over to investigate, but the track around Green Lake adds several hours to the walk. Instead we climbed to the nearby lookout and admired Lake Rotokakhi from there. It’s definitely more green than Lake Tikitapu but still on the blue side!
Back to our hike around Lake Tikitapu and the northern side of the lake had more of the track at water-level. Something Astrid and Soren took advantage of, for the purposes of playing and getting wet!
By now Miss Zinnia was awake, and demanding morning tea snacks of biscuits. She was swapped onto Anto’s back and continued her sightseeing and snacking as we completed our loop of the lake.
As we made it back to the main beach, people were out everywhere, swimming, picnicing and watching the morning of triathlon and swimming. Despite that water looking very inviting it was still rather cold for our Aussie taste!
We made it back to the car after our 5.5km loop. It took us under the predicted 1.5 hours, even at kid pace, and with a short detour to investigate the Green Lake. Despite the majority of the track being at least partially shaded it was around 25 degrees during our walk, and we still ended up quite sweaty.
It was now 11.30am and the kids stomachs were rumbling. We headed back through town and stopped at a cafe for morning tea where they scored snickers slice and iced chocolates. The slice was so sweet they couldn’t finish it, but Zinnia gave it a red hot go!
Now full of sugar we did a little more souvenir shopping and picked up more supermarket supplies before lunch at the Airbnb. We decided we all needed a rest while Zinnia had her afternoon nap, but again the house was insanely hot with the afternoon sun coming in. It was a great Airbnb except for the lack of air conditioning, with ample direct sunlight for 15 hours a day……. which is probably only a problem for about 2 weeks of the year!
Our original plan for the afternoon was to drive to some hot springs for a swim, but given we were all hot and sweaty the thought of a drive and hot water wasn’t that appealing (for at least the adults). We compromised (bribed?) with the kids and negotiated a walk back to Kuirau Park, where we’d been the day before, for an ice cream and a play.
It was 4.30pm and 30 degrees but still cooler outside than in the Airbnb, so the 1.5km walk down to the park was quite pleasant. We stopped past a corner store adjacent to the park to get some ice creams, and the kids ran around the shade in the park eating and getting sticky……
Zinnia thinks icecream is the best and seems to get plenty of everyone’s to taste!
We hadn’t explored all the thermal areas of Kuirau park the previous day before the kids had been side tracked by the swings. As we’d driven past that morning, on our way to the lake, we’d seen so much steam billowing from the park that we figured another visit was in order.
There wasn’t quite as much steam this afternoon, but we still found plenty of thermal lakes to investigate. Zinnia was insisting on wanting to run on her own, which was only slightly terrifying and required an adult to jog behind her and shepherd her from the fenced areas…..
It appeared as though some of the viewing points may have got a little dangerous at some point and several were closed! The ponds were very pretty (and of course stinky) but a pretty awesome free park to wander around.
There were also the odd pits of boiling mud, just to keep you on your toes!
There were plenty of danger signs everywhere! Between Soren who loves to get into mischief and Zinnia’s new found love of running solo, it was only mildly terrifying……..
It was definitely worth the repeat visit, a great free attraction in Rotorua and a lucky find as it was’t on our list of must-do’s when researching.
We then wandered back to the Airbnb for dinner and packing up before our departure from Rotorua the next morning, when we would be Taupo bound!
The temperature range for Rotorua on Saturday the 25th of January 2020 was 13 to 30 degrees. Despite the warm weather by New Zealand standards, it was significantly cooler than the weather we’d been having back in Canberra.
Our total walking for the day was 13.85km, including our hike around Lake Tikitapu (Strava map below) and the wander to Kuirau Park in the afternoon. Another big day for little legs!
We were off to Taupo via some hot springs at Kerosene creek. Then there was lunch, complete with planes and helicopters and a very hot afternoon visiting the ‘Craters of the Moon’ for more geothermal fun.