A wild weekend in Rotorua

By Diana Clement

Diana Clement grabs a cheap weekend in the Central North Island.

Watch the sunset from one of the pools at the Polynesian Spa. Photo / Supplied
Watch the sunset from one of the pools at the Polynesian Spa. Photo / Supplied

Kiwis have gone gaga over one-day sales on websites that offer stunning discounts on everything from cinemas to teeth-whitening.

Despite the fabulous deals at websites such as GrabOne.co.nz or DailyDo.co.nz I rarely take them up because I simply don't have time.

That was until it occurred to me that I could snap up deals for a city or region I planned to visit then use them over a weekend or week.

A plan for a GrabOne weekend to Rotorua was hatched. The accommodation, food, and activities would be based on whatever deals arose for that city in the weeks leading up to our trip.

Rydges Hotel

Address: 272 Fenton St, Rotorua.
Ph: (07) 349 5386.

GrabOne Deal: $205 for two nights including one free breakfast for two and $50 food and drink voucher. Value $410.

The deal on the new GrabOneEscapes.co.nz website was so popular all 400 vouchers were sold well before the 24 hours was up and the hotel was humming with GrabOne customers and others taking advantage of the hotel's "kids stay and eat free" deals. Our room was spacious and comfortable, the meal excellent, and the service faultless, despite the pressure the kitchen must have been under with all those $50 food and wine voucher-holders.

QE Health

Address: 1073 Whakaue St, Rotorua.
Ph: 0800 734 325.

GrabOne Deal: $30 for a 30-minute massage. Value $60.

QE Health is day spa based in the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the shores of Lake Rotorua. My massage was a great antidote to the previous night's training run and the three-hour drive to Rotorua. As well as therapeutic massages, QE Health offers Aix (water) massage, stone massage, and mud baths using some of the original 1940s equipment.

Polynesian Spa

Address: 1000 Hinemoa St, Rotorua.
Ph: (07) 348 1328.

GrabOne Deal: $11 adult pool entry. Value $21.50.

The Polynesian Spa "pools" have been redeveloped in the past decade and are designed to blend into their environment on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Bathers can choose between the private pools, family spa, lake spa and adult pools. Each area has pools ranging in temperature from 36C to 42C and apart from the family spa, the pools overlook Lake Rotorua.

Abracadabra Cafe & Bar

Address: 1263 Amohia St, Rotorua.
Ph: (07) 348 3883.

GrabOne Deal: $15 for $30 of food and beverage.

I love the North African-themed cafe so this was a deal not to be missed. The decor is what really makes it, although the coffee and food is great, too. A plate of eggs benedict with salmon and cumin potatoes set me up for an action-packed day 80km south in Taupo.

Cliffhanger Extreme Swing

Address: 202 Spa Rd, Taupo.
Ph: 0800 888 408.

GrabOne Deal: $49 for an Extreme Swing. Value $99.

"It's bungy-jumping for cowards," my friend commented after we took our GrabOne Cliffhanger Swing. The swing experience involves being harnessed in, launched off the Taupo Bungy platform, and dropping 38m into a swinging motion above the Waikato River. I've bungy-jumped twice and I can say the adrenaline rush from the Cliffhanger Swing was just as intense. The great thing about planning a weekend around one-day deals is that it gets you to try new things. This activity fell squarely into the camp of activities that I'd never considered trying.

Huka Prawn Farm

Address: Karetoto Rd, Wairakei Park, Lake Taupo.
Ph: (07) 374 8474.

GrabOne Deal: $12 adult and $14 child Super Fun Pass. Value $24/$14.

It made sense to do more than one activity in Taupo before driving back to Rotorua, and the Huka Prawn Park promised a quirky afternoon. Our Super Fun Pass included a tour of the hatchery, a 10-minute lesson in prawn fishing, a Shawn the Prawn walk along the banks of the Waikato River, and as many prawns as we could fish. After our tour we headed to the restaurant, sat eating a ½kg of freshly fished prawns, and watching the Huka Jet and other boats pass by.

Matariki Hangi & Concert

Address: Lake end, Tutanekai St, Rotorua.
Ph: (07) 3463 888.

GrabOne Deal: 50 per cent off Hangi & Maori Cultural performance. Value $69.

I'm often surprised at how inaccessible Maori cultural performances are to the average city dweller. There's nothing like a masterful performance of Maori songs, poi and ti rakau we learned at primary school to bring a little nostalgic twang to the heart strings. About half the audience at the Novotel's Matariki Hangi & Concert show was Kiwi. Some had returned from overseas with foreign partners or children who had never seen Maori culture. Others like us were simply looking for a fun evening out and a good honest Kiwi buffet meal.

- NZ Herald

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