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North Island Road Trip – Rotorua

XTERRA Rotorua has given us an epic opportunity to pack the kids and the dog and head to the North Island this April. Amazingly enough this is the first opportunity we had as a family to explore New Zealand, on an almost entirely dedicated family holiday.

We are all pumped on the opportunity to explore the North Island & the top of the south without worrying about how Braden is going to fit 6 hours training in per day.  Braden has been literally fizzing on this opportunity for the last two months. His biggest motivation for wining Ironman NZ was so he could justify buying an inflatable Zodiac boat and designing his own all inclusive camping trailer. I think this must be why he almost cried on the finish line of the event.

He spent the last week in the garage until midnight with his german co-sider/world adventure racing champion – Marcel Hanger, fitting out his dream trailer and managed to finish it in time to make it up to Picton for the ferry. The end product is a bad ass 4wd family camping trailer (that slightly resembles a giant fridge on wheels) with custom equipped solar panels, high pressure gas shower, built in kitchen and pantry, internal bunks, a deluxe king size roof top tent, the Rhino Rack fox wing awning with attachable children’s sleeping quarters, 80litres of water storage, surfboard and Zodiac carrying capabilities and enough power to make our morning smoothie and for me to dry my hair. Floor plans and design specifications are available on request for those who are inspired.

​​Five days ago, Braden set off a happy man from Wanaka in his Subaru Outback with all four of our bikes, his camping trailer and new boat, making the ferry in Picton with 15minutes to spare. He took a great sigh of relief as the Inter-islander started to set sail out of the harbour. His dream had become reality.

The timing could not of been better for this trip. Our daughter is about to turn four and is now a highly functional human with the capabilities to walk, bike & communicate her needs. This in itself makes family adventures more attractive. Although it didn’t stop us in the past, we are slightly more optimistic of it being an enjoyable experience. So to make up for lost time we will be aiming to do the many things we have had on the bucket list, since our first child was born almost 9 years ago.

​​The list includes:

Xterra Rotorua

The 2 day timber trail in the Waikato

5 day camping trip around the East Cape

3 day Wanganui river canoe trip

3 days on the Marlborough Sounds fishing

3 day Abel Tasman sea kayaking adventure

2 day Old Ghost Road (without the kids)

We have been in Rotorua for the last few days and we will be here until Sunday.  Rotorua – although always slightly underrated has really transformed its reputation over the last five years. I’m not sure of the statistics, but I imagine its right up there as on of NZ’s top tourism destination. The town itself is just another town, but the surrounding landscapes are nothing short of incredible. The local Redwoods are my favourite place to be and offer endless opportunities for mountain biking and running. Although mountain biking has been a sport I have taken on later in life, it hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of my favourite things to do. The perfectly designed flowing trails webbed amongst the towering Redwood forest is close to everything I could ever want from a day out riding. To polish off a days riding, you can finish up at the Blue Lakes and have a splash in the balmy 20 degree crystal clear water.

over the years we have also ventured to other top spots within Rotorua and accumulated a definitive list of things YOU need to do next time you come: this is my top six!

1 MOUNTAIN BIKING the Redwoods. Its a no brainer, you could spend days in this park. shark vs eagle is by far my favourite track, but its a big climb to get to it!

2 5.5km loop around Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lakes). Easy to do with the kids and with the dog! Really beautiful and you can bike it too!

3 Canopy Tours – not something i would normally spend money on, but each year my best friend and I are inspired to do something adventurous together. As we are normally time poor, we generally have to pay for it. This year we chose canopy tours and it was nothing short of epic! Super fun, slightly scary and absolutely worth spending money on!

Okere Falls Store – One of my favourite cafes of all time.  Eco-hippy style culture with delicious healthy food and the option of a pie, with epic outdoor garden area to have lunch in.

5 Rafting the Kaituna River – Last years birthday adventure. Absolutely terrifying, and also one of the most spectacular rivers I have ever been down.

6 Kerosene Creek natural hot springs.

Location: 28km south of Rotorua. Take State Highway 5, then travel about 2km down Old Walotapu Road. Its about a 35 minute drive but worth it. So awesome, that you don’t have to be rich to afford to soak in some therapeutic hot springs. This is the real deal and the kids love it! Its super hot in places, which I like, but there are some also less hot pools to be enjoyed.

7 Hells Gate hot springs. yes – The one you have to pay for. I do think its worth it though. Very cool and there is also an awesome walk around the geothermal rock pools.

Rotorua – gets the big tick of approval from the curries.