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These destinations feature in the New York Times list of 52 places to go in 2018 compiled from recommendations from contributors around the globe.
But of all the beautiful places to go in New Zealand what made Rotorua - that hotbed of sulphurous gas neon-lit motels and blatant tourism - stand out
The Times advises would-be travellers to Rotorua number 45 on the list and the only New Zealand destination to feature to come for the mud baths stay for the beauty.
The Bay of Plenty citys distinctive aroma - to some its most distinctive feature - is mentioned in the first paragraph.
Sulphurous geysers and mineral-rich hot springs scent Rotorua New Zealands North Island hub of Māori culture it reads.
The new Mudtopia Festival which launched last December was also cited as a reason to visit with the mud games and massages getting the thumbs up.
The Redwood Treewalk an elevated trail through Whakarewarewa Forest illuminated at night by installations by designer David Trubridge also got a mention with the writer praising the way the lights romance the majestic trees after dark.
But aside from the opportunities it presents to wallow in mud and get up close and personal with some strapping redwoods does it really represent the best of what New Zealand has to offer Does it surpass the good looks and adventurous spirit of Queenstown the glow worm-lit subterranean world of Waitomo the epic landscapes of Fiordland the worlds coolest little capital
Rotorua deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said hes not surprised his city has made the list.
We have a long proud history of tourism and manaakitanga (hospitality) with our strong culture and unique natural environment at the forefront.
Rotorua is a place where you can be as active or passive as you like with waterways forests geothermal wonders spas a multitude of attractions and activities – thats why people visit and why we live here.
The city can get a hard time from Kiwis but perhaps its time to take another look at what it has to offer. The bubbling boiling strangely beautiful landscape and raft of world-class and world-first activities on offer should be more than enough to keep even residents of the city that never sleeps entertained.
Here are five things to keep in mind for your next trip to Fabulous Rotovegas.
The Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest
The Times wasnt wrong about this place: its a stunner. Just minutes from the city centre and yet a proverbial world away its a haven for walkers runners horse riders mountain bikers and anyone in search of peace and quiet. Red Bull has declared its mountain bike trails the best in the Southern Hemisphere but for non bike fiends the Redwood Treewalk is probably the standout feature. With 23 bridges suspended between 22 Californian redwoods it really does give you the chance to walk among giants. Visit after dark and as the Times suggests you probably will wind up a little woozy.
White water rafting
If youre looking for something to jolt you out of your post festive season daze taking a spin on Rotoruas famous white water rapids should do the trick. If youve got the guts tackle the seven-metre Tutea Falls - the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. The falls are set along the Kaituna River the warmest in New Zealand and a lovely place to visit even if you prefer not to purposefully send your adrenaline levels through the roof. Starting at Okere Falls on the northwest corner of Lake Rotiti the river is also a popular spot for kayaking sledging and fishing. Like The Redwoods the Okere Falls Track takes on a magical aura after dark when the forest alongside it is lit up by glow worms.
Land in hot water
Whether you bathe in them or simply admire them Rotoruas geothermal waters are a balm for the soul. Tikitere (Hells Gate) is among the best known spots to take in what the Māori term waiariki (water of the gods). Boasting the biggest mud volcano in the country and the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere its also a great spot for a soak in the mud or spa. Polynesian spa is ideal for those who like to be pampered with an array of treatments and massages on offer. Waikite Valley the Blue Baths QE Health and Terume Hot Spring Resort are also good soaking spots. Although only venture into the public pool in the latter if youre a fan of skinnydipping.