You've survived a ride down a hill in that crazy plastic ball called the Zorb, indulged your inner Middle Earth fandom with a Lord of the Rings Tour and even managed to avoid wrinkling your nose at the distinctive smell of the Sulphur City long enough to enjoy some R&R at the Polynesian Spa. But there's more to Rotorua than hot springs and hobbits which is unique and affordable.
I was expecting expensive activities but I was shocked by how many of them were free…
The museum entry fees can really add up so why not head to one of the free ones. BibleWorld Museum & Discovery Centre showcases life in Biblical times with scale models, ancient artifacts and replicas. The museum even features hands-on activities that will bring history to life for kids and adults alike such as dressing up as a Roman soldier, playing a tune on a replica lyre and trying to write your name in ancient languages.
You were anticipating plenty of expansive parks but Kuirau Park has everything you need in one place to experience the real Rotorua. Apart from the native flowers and trees, Kuirau Park has a paddling pool for the kids and a warm foot pool for you to dip your feet in and relax. If you don't want to travel far to see the stereotypical hot springs, Kuirau Park has a naturally occurring lake with mud and boiling thermal water. Why not get a spot of shopping in as well, since Kuirau Park also hosts a weekly flea market with handmade arts and crafts, clothes, antiques and delicious local cuisine.
Even though they are very touristy, you can't deny that the hot springs were one of the things that first attracted you to Rotorua. But why spend money on one of the hot spring day spas, when there are plenty of sneaky free options just outside Rotorua. Kerosene Creek might not be the world's best kept secret but it is very close at just a short half hour drive south from Rotorua. Make sure you swim with a friend as these non-commercial hot springs are isolated and don't put your head underwater as some bacteria can enter your body via your nose and make you sick.
Spend on another Wildlife Park…
Or you could decide you have seen enough animals and take the family to something more quirky and memorable at Amazeme. The prime attraction is – you guessed it – a maze that is 1.4 kilometres long of hedge lined paths. Get lost along the way and have a laugh or two as you try to make your way to the centre of the maze. Once you've completed the maze, visit Amazeme's small animal petting zoo, aviary and playground which will keep your children entertained for hours.
You could visit the Rotorua Museum…
But you wanted to see history come alive at the Buried Village. The Buried Village in question is Te Wairoa, an old Christian missionary, which was destroyed by the 1886 Mount Tarawera Eruption. Although seemingly destroyed, the village has been recreated to match how it would have looked prior to the eruption courtesy of evidence from the site's excavation. Take a step back in time as you explore the houses and relics of the Victorian era settlement and how the volcano eruption changed the landscape forever.
You didn't spend much on your hobbit-hole…
So treat yourself and your friends or family and take them to Agroventures adventure park. While this adventure park has the classic adrenalin rides like a Giant Swing and Bungy Jumping, there are some of the most unique rides in the world that you can only experience in New Zealand. The world's first jet boat-sprint will send your head spinning with 360 degree turns, 3G's of force and speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour. If that's not quirky enough for you, try the world's only Shweeb – an aerodynamic racing pod which you pedal with your feet. Race against the clock or your friends in a 600 metre race at blistering speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.
If you have a couple more days to spare, why not drive 2 hours west of Rotorua and spend a night or two at Waitomo. Let the magical glow worm light your way as you take a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto or, if that meandering pace is too slow for you, get ready for the thrills and spills of black water rafting that will get your heart racing.
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