Rotorua, NZ – North Island Adrenaline Adventure Capital

A great night’s sleep at the Marae refreshed me for my visit to New Zealand’s North Island Adrenaline Capital… Rotorua! Only a short drive away from Stray’s unique stop – the Marae, Rotorua offers a selection of adventure activities to the traveller. I planned on stopping off in Rotorua for 3 nights – to visit the Peterpans Rotorua team, in addition to take advantage of everything Rotorua has to offer – adrenaline, scenery, culture and more!

When I arrived into town, I went straight to the Peterpans Rotorua shop – here is where Tessa, a good mate of mine from Sydney has recently relocated for work! We both travelled on the Stray North Island Agent Famil a couple weeks before, but it was great to catch up with her and spend a few nights at her house.

Kaitiaki Rafting – Kaituna River

Kaitiaki Rafting are the leaders in adventure rafting in North Island, New Zealand. My day with Kaitiaki rafting took me down the Kaituna River in a thrill-seeking fashion! This trip is definitely not for the fainthearted! In addition to the adrenaline aspect that Kaitiaki provides, the crew incorporates a cultural feature which pays respect to the people of the river; Ngati Pikiao- by the way of karakia (traditional prayer) prior to entering the river and while travelling along. Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.08.50 AM

Kaitiaki Rafting takes you on a Grade Five rafting experience, as you pass through remarkable steep, narrow, bush clad canyons and across 14 rapids! During the hour I was on the river my group rafted down 3 waterfalls, one of which being the 7m Tutea Falls … the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the WORLD! My raft group managed to conquer the waterfall with the whole team staying safe and sound in the raft… this isn’t always the case though 😉

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As mentioned before, Kaitiaki Rafting has a big focus on providing you knowledge on your surroundings while floating down the river. The fully trained guides ensure to give appreciation to the land and the original owners of the river wherever possible. It is fascinating to hear the Maori stories, about how this river was originally used back in the day.

While rafting with Kaitiaki, you are fully geared by the staff prior to entering the river with wetsuits, boots, helmet, splash jackets and a thermal jumper. You don’t need to have any experience rafting and all you need to bring along for the day are your swimmers, towel and a positive attitude!

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I had such a great time with Kaitiaki Rafting – and not to mention… one of the raft guides found it quite humorous to pick on me along the way and push me out of the raft a couple times! Is this rafting protocol… or was he just flirting with me?… we’ll never know!

Agroventures

Agroventures has been somewhere I have been looking forward to experiencing since beginning at Peterpans Travel. I am always up for a thrill, and Agroventures delivers that!

Agroventures Rotorua offers a selection (5) of different adventure activities that you can choose from – it really is no surprise that Agroventures is known as New Zealand’s premier adventure theme park!

Offering complimentary pickups/drop-offs (based on availability) one of the lovely crew members from Agroventures picked Tessa and I up from the Peterpans shop to head to the park for our morning of adrenalin. When you arrive the crew welcomes you with a smile and provides you a summary of the various activities you can choose from while visiting Agro. I went for the “go big or go home” package, which was all 5-adventure activities – including the Shweeb, Agrojet, Freefall Xtreme, Swoop and Bungy!

As the Shweeb was something that I had never tried, yet alone heard of before, I was keen to give it a go first! The Shweeb, only one of it’s kind in the world was originally created as a futuristic model for transportation. As you enter the “capsule” sitting on your behind with your legs propped in front of you, you will begin self-propelling yourself around the 3 loop race track. Speeds of up to 45km/h have been reached, and your legs purely generate this! To add an extra bit of incentive, you can race against the clock and the previous world record speeds. If you shattered the world Shweeb record you can bring yourself home $1000 dollars!!!

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The next activity I took a go at was the Freefall Xtreme. Agroventures is the only place in New Zealand’s with an outdoor wind tunnel and the only place in the Southern Hemisphere where you can body fly! The crew at the Freefall Xtreme geared me up in a full jumpsuit and goggles prior to entering the wind tunnel. You are taught the basic flying position, and all the tricks/techniques used to manipulate the air and move yourself while flying. Once you get going, you will be flown up to 2 metres high by speeds of up to 220km/h! Your guide will bring you up and down, side to side and may even take you for a spin in the tunnel. You will be able to watch all yourself fly on the GoPro footage they capture throughout the experience but be forewarned… you may have a bit of drool at the end of your flight!

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Similar to the Minjin Swing I did a few months ago in Cairns, the Swoop will swing you up to 130km/h towards the earth! The best thing about the Swoop is you have to release your own rip cord… from 40 metres above the ground!!! I found the Swoop really puts your mind to the test as you have control of your own destiny. Being the adrenaline-junkie I self-proclaim myself to be, the Swoop was a favourite activity of mine at Agroventures!

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The most extreme activity at Agroventures is the Agro Bungy! The bungy at Agro is 43 metres high which provides you with approximately a 3 second free-fall. Regardless of how many times I have bungy jumped, I always get a bit nervous. It is very unnatural of the body to feel comfortable throwing yourself off a platform headfirst. Regardless of how unnatural it is, when you get up to the top, I find that one sec of insanity and take the plunge! Bungy-jumping is truly a mind game, and something that will challenge you beyond what you could imagine.

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The last activity… that I intentionally prolonged was the Agrojet; New Zealand’s fastest jet sprint! For some reason (not quite sure why) I have always had a strange fear of jet boating. I have never understood how these boats can turn on a dime, and how they can be so agile. With heaps of encouragement from Tessa and the crew at Agro they managed to get me into the boat. The professional driver will take you around the 1km track 3 times, reaching speeds of 100km/h in 4.5 seconds! After all I was psyched I gave it a go, and ended up loving it in the end!

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With all 5 activities complete and under my belt – I left Agroventures buzzing off adrenalin and with the biggest smile on my face! Agroventures is the perfect place to visit for travelling through Rotorua and looking for adventure. It’s great place for all ages, adventurous levels and budgets!

Hobbiton Movie Set – Matamata, NZ

With my 23rd year of life rolling in (October 9th) while travelling through New Zealand, I couldn’t think of a more unique place to spend my morning than the infamous Hobbiton Movie Set, in Matamata!

Experiencing Hobbiton is a bucket list item for many travellers. Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans from around the world travel near and far to see what it’s like to be a Hobbit for the day.

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I was picked up from the Rotorua CBD shortly after 9am for my journey to Hobbiton. When you arrive at Hobbiton, our group had the chance to explore the gift shop, buy some postcards and grab a coffee from the café. Once we were all checked in, our guide directed us to the buses that would escort us to the movie set – a short scenic drive down the road. On the journey to the set, we travelled along the beautiful country landscapes while our guide explained a few things – one of which being why this farm was chosen by Peter Jackson (Director) as the perfect location for his movies.

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When we approached the entrance to the movie set, you instantly feel like you are in the movies. Everything is placed exactly as it appears in the films – from the real life crops being grown in the gardens, to the colourful selection of hobbit holes surrounding the area. I found it extremely difficult to pay attention to the information the guide is telling you about, as I wanted to take photos of everything! Apparently the record for photos taken while visiting Hobbiton was 2000+ photos… in just over an hour!!!

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Though I have never seen all the Lord of the Rings, or Hobbit films, various people in my group would point out different hobbit holes that bring them back memories of a certain part of the movies. A few die-hard LOTR fans in my group insisted on reenacting some of the scenes that happened at that particular part of the set. As I made my way along, I knew exactly what I would be doing when I got back home… Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie marathon.

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The last, and in my opinion the best part of the tour was pass the “Hobbit party field” and then the visit to the Green Dragon Inn! At the Green Dragon we had the choice of a complimentary traditional ale, cider or handcrafted ginger beer to toast off to a great day together!

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Looking back on my time in New Zealand, I can concur that Hobbiton was the most unique and ‘strange’ thing I have done. For those who are huge LOTR/Hobbit fans a visit to Hobbiton is a must… and even for those who aren’t die-hard, you’ll unquestionably find yourself enjoying your day at the movie set!

From Rotorua, my Stray group was off to Lake Aniwhenua – where I could continue to celebrate my 23rd birthday, kick back relax and stuff my face with a traditional hangi dinner!

Until next adventure;

s.c

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