Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Viva Rotovegas!

Las Vegas has an Eiffel tower, a statue of liberty (note the use of lowercase letters!) and even a pyramid, but Rotovegas (sometimes referred to as Rotorua) has much more to offer that’s specifically well suited to children, as JON RAWLINSON discovered.

Such unmissable attractions as the Skyline Gondola (including the famous luge), Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, hot pools and cultural shows are all par for the course when visiting Rotorua. While these have all been well documented, I recently discovered this marvellous town offers much more for young visitors than I’d thought – the following ‘hot spots’ really stood out for myself, my partner and especially for our six-year-old daughter.

Trees? Yes, please!

Kauri and Totara are no shrinking violets but they’re not the tallest timber on our blocks, as Redwoods Treewalk proves. Introduced to Rotorua a century ago, redwoods form the basis of a lofty tourist attraction.

Redwoods Treewalk

Rating high in our books, the Treewalk features elevated paths with suspension bridges and platforms. One ticket provided two visits, during the day and again at night, each experience offering something a little different and both splendidly scenic in their own ways. The lighting (at night) was tough to capture but it saw our daughter’s face light up with… delight!

Although this attraction wasn’t chosen because it appeared child friendly, it certainly was – it is even accessible for pushchairs, a definite plus for little legs too small to trot merrily across its bridges.

Farmous, frameous

A kid from Pukekohe is no stranger to farm tours and The Rotorua Heritage Farm tour did not disappoint. However, the icing on this attraction’s cake was a strange bedfellow (in more ways than one!), the 3D Trick Art Gallery.

Based at the same location, the gallery features paintings designed to appear three dimensional, encouraging visitors to use their imaginations through an interactive experience. Art enthusiasts may love the Louvre, but both children and ‘children at heart’ will adore this attraction.Hedging? You bet!

Amazeme: Lilyanne Rawlinson has a plan…

Bad puns and dad jokes are as garden variety as hedge mazes, but the Amazeme maze actually did live up to its name. Armed with overconfidence in my internal compass, I quickly became lost. Fortunately, our daughter soon worked out a navigation plan… and it worked!

While there’s not a lot at the centre of this maze – other than a bloated sense of undeserved self-satisfaction on my part! – it was the extra touches that impressed me.

From beautifully (although ruggedly) crafted boardgame tables to a dress-up wardrobe, artful gardens and some bunnies to love and pet (what was that about bad puns?), Amazeme offers plenty to inspire, challenge and entertain young minds.

Down the (mini golf) rabbit hole

Some golfers aim for eagles, we opted for bunnies. Mini golf is common enough but ask a six-year-old if she would prefer to play a round or play a round while playing around with rabbits and the choice is clear!

The aptly named Rotorua Mini Golf with Rabbits lived up to expectations. Sure, I was a little put off (although not hopping mad) when a big old bunny bounded across the third, but it made for a rather surreal moment. The course itself wasn’t too challenging, even for our daughter, but the fairy gardens, fairy lights and delights brought about by its inhabitants certainly made her day.

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