17/09/2012 12:00:00 a.m.
You’ll feel invigorated venturing into the outdoors after a winter of frosty mornings by exploring Rotorua where nature comes with surprises like lakes, geothermal activity, waterfalls, towering trees, rare birds and views galore.
Whether you’re exploring a treetop canopy 22 metres above the forest floor, meandering through native bush or following trails to freshwater springs, there’s many ways to see nature blossoming which lifts the spirits.
Those who want to see a crystal clear icy water spring, shot through with stunning hues of turquoise, greens and blues, should lace up their sneakers and start walking the Hamurana Springs trail which has a tranquil beauty.
On the other end of the spectrum, a trail for some action is the walk along the Kaituna River at Okere Falls where daredevil kayakers and rafters make their way over the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world at seven metres high. There’s also a cave, parts of Rotorua’s first power station and a trout pool along the way.
The latest unique New Zealand eco-tourism venture in the outdoors is Rotorua Canopy Tours. The wilderness adventure is within beautiful virgin native forest on an incredible network of walking trails, treetop platforms, six thrilling ziplines (flying foxes) and two spectacular canopy swingbridges up to 22 metres high above the forest floor. Amongst 500 year old giant trees, native birds, monster tree ferns and perching plants, the forest is awe-inspiring and has evolved in isolation from the rest of the world for over 50 million years.
However, if you prefer to have your feet firmly on the ground, you can explore one of the World’s premiere rainforests – Whirinaki Forest with Foris Eco-Tours. The Whirinaki Forest has barely changed since dinosaurs roamed under the stunning canopy fringed with beautiful native bush. The walk in the Whirinaki Forest can also be joined with a fun, gentle grade 2 river rafting trip on the clear waters of the Rangitaiki River, a superb jewel that flows through the forest.
The most popular outdoor spot in Rotorua is the Redwoods Forest, home to towering 110 year old Redwoods and other exotic and native trees with many lovely walking trails for family with information boards along the way where you can learn about the fascinating history of the surroundings.
Another favourite is the 16 sparkling lakes in Rotorua, where you can have a swim, a picnic and walk around the beautiful water. The Blue Lake has a 5.5km trail around it and is close to town with many stunning viewpoints to take photos.
If you’re after something more challenging though, the Eastern and Western Lake Okataina Walkways have a 3 hour Lake Okataina to Lake Tarawera option and a 7 –hour Lake Rotoiti to Lake Okareka walking option. Serious trampers and hikers are also awaiting the completion of the newest Great New Zealand Walk by DOC which will allow hikers to make a 3-day journey around Lake Tarawera next year.