Culture, Travel

Road Trip to Rotorua: JetPark, Polynesian Spa & Rainbow Springs

Rotorua is a family favourite of ours to travel to with two small children as it’s a world away in experience but not too far away to drive to in reality. The children were ALMOST as excited as I was, to plan our weekend  Road Trip to Rotorua: to stay at JetPark, and visit Polynesian Spa and Rainbow Springs over the weekend. We’d stayed at JetPark hotel in Auckland airport and had a fabulous stay so it was the perfect opportunity to stay at their newly opened Rotorua property, which had taken over the Quality Inn Rotorua.

Below: arriving in our family room at JetPark Hotel Rotorua. Just thinking about Polynesian Spa has got me relaxed already 👌 I particularly liked that the hotel had good value extras such as continental breakfast in the nicely-designed lobby included, and also free wifi for all guests which was super handy.

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Above: JetPark has its own bottled toiletries which were really nice to use. Below: Hot chocolate is provided in the hotel rooms along with tea and coffee making facilities.

Hot chocolate

A box of toys was in the kids room and some playing cards – fun!

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The hotel is conveniently located on Fenton Street opposite a Countdown supermarket so we popped in for essentials (read: snacks and wine) to watch Labyrinth with.

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We headed out into Rotorua township for dinner with the children and found the newly-opened Italian pizzeria owned by restauranteur Leonardo’s, called Imperfetto. It’s cute and so friendly; the staff invited my bambini into the kitchen to watch the pizza oven in operation. The pizza was delicious (we got two: $16 and $24).

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Next to the Rotorua Museum and historic bathhouse is a charming old villa and its cottage garden. We had fun exploring the garden and then doing the paths alongside the sulphurous lake.

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RAINBOW SPRINGS

I’ve always wanted to go to the nature park at Rainbow Springs so this trip finally saw my dreams answered, with an awesome few hours spent at the 22 acre park that houses native New Zealand birds, trout, exotic birds, waterfalls, and playgrounds.

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Holy waterslide, Batman! We did The Big Splash ride at Rainbow Springs nature park and I am soaked- it was fantastic fun.

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Here’s a shot as we go over the edge. I wondered if the children would be okay and then I screamed louder than they did. Of course, we simply had to do it again – I like that you can go as often as you like on your day pass.

RAINBOW SPRINGS

My personal highlight was the chance to see a real live kiwi bird up close. I got so emotional I cried. It was very special as you never get to see them so close by and moving around in their enclosure was magical.

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Next, to birds of a more exotic background, at the Bird Show in the Gathering Place where keeper James and crew talked us through the intelligent and clever – and sometimes cheeky- behaviour of Australian and African Grey Parrots.

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Hot tip: if you enter Rainbow Springs after 5pm, you may enter again the following day. It’s the perfect way to experience New Zealand’s nocturnal wildlife at night and then visit again in the daytime. If you really love it – and who wouldn’t? – you can buy an annual pass for $125. 

POLYNESIAN SPA

Nothing makes people more jealous on Twitter, than posting you are headed to Polynesian Spa, it seems! The reputation of the world famous natural mineral hot pools precedes it.

We took the family in on Saturday and Sunday to both the Family pools ($22 adults) and the Lake Spa pools pictured below ($45 person) which are a few rock pools of varying temperatures set in a natural rock setting outdoors next to the lake.

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The pools are nestled amongst a New Zealand native garden.

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Dipping our toes into the water, at Priest Spa. This pool has milky white water from the mineral content and is used for relief of arthritis and joint pain.

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Megan Robinson
17th January 2016

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