So a week into our time in New Zealand and we arrived to spend the weekend in Rotarua, the home of a beautiful lake and wildlife sanctuary nested in the crater of (what we were told) is an extinct volcano. However, a walk around the lakeside showed that the many thermal springs in the area are still very much active - and, because of the sulphur, are creating a distinctive and not particularly pleasant pong! The lakeside walk revealed the lake to be a wildlife sanctuary - one that is much loved by a vast array of NZ birds. I'm no expert but I understand it's the only place in NZ where all the different types of gull can be found. It's certainly a place that my friend Ralph would love.
A small lakeside community, it didn't take us too long to explore the cosy bars and many restaurants of Rotaroa which all seem to be clustered along two main streets. First stop was a pub - the Pig and Whistle - which I'd read about and which was once the old police station (a clue in the name perhaps?) so obviously we had to visit! After a week of gorgeous seafood, our tummies were craving something a little more spicy so we decided to give the local indian, the Indian Star - which was highly recommended in the guide book - a try. We were not disappointed - the food was fantastic - although we were outfaced, with portion sizes that remind me of the US.
I'm a real lover of natural spas and just couldn't resist the opportunity to try out the Polynesian Spa, which has been voted by Conde Nest Traveller as one of the Top 10 in the world. Although there are more than 20 pools within the complex, we spent our time relaxing in the warm natural waters of the 4 pools in the Lake Spa before heading off for a relaxing massage in a therapy room with a most stunning view over the Lake. So peaceful, so tranquil and so very relaxing ... I really must learn to spend more lazy Sundays this way.