Feeling burned out? A weekend in Rotorua may be just what you need, writes Sarah Pollok.
After a stressful few weeks at work or in life, hopping on a mountain bike, paddleboard or walking trail can feel like the last thing we need to reset.
Yet, science and experience continue to prove how exploring the outdoors and moving can get us out of our busy brains and into our bodies.
If you're feeling weary and frazzled, here are five places you can sweat to reset in the outdoor playground of Rotorua.
Walk among treetops in the Redwoods Forest
Wander through the Redwoods after sunset and it’s hard to miss the stunning glow of the Nightlights Treewalk. However, if you’re after a more restorative experience, without the crowds and queues, see the forest in a whole new light by doing the Redwoods Treewalk early in the morning.
Arrive 10 minutes before opening and you'll likely have the entire suspended walkway, bathed in golden light, all to yourself. Here, you can take your time ambling along 700m of walkway suspended 20m high between the ancient trees.
If you’re enjoying the peaceful forestry, continue the experience and explore the rest of the Redwoods with their network of one- to two-hour tracks.
Go mountain biking through the Whakarewarewa Forest
If mindfulness is the key to wellbeing, then mountain biking is the ultimate wellness practice. Not convinced? Try hurtling down a gorgeous trail in the middle of a dense forest and think about anything other than the 10m ahead of you.
For those who love the idea of riding down the Whakarewarewa Forest without sweating your way back up the mountain, MTB Rotorua’s shuttle passes are a game-changer that means you can spend more time and energy hitting the trails.
The expert MTB team won't just set you up with one of their slick bikes (which include full or half suspension bikes and e-bikes), but talk you through the massive map of tracks and recommend routes depending on your ability and preference.
Soak in a private hot tub among the trees
We’ve all heard the hype about the Japanese practice of forest bathing, but what about combining it with an actual hot tub? That’s the feeling you get during a soak at Secret Spot Hot Tubs. Handcrafted from western red cedar wood, each of the 12 tubs are nestled on the edge of the Whakarewarewa Forest and far enough apart to feel like it’s just you and nature.
While the view soothes your mind, the water itself will work away at tired and tight muscles. Sourced from a nourishing spring hidden high in the forest and purified using natural processes, it's free from chemical purifiers like chlorine and set to a toasty 38-40 degrees. Perfect post bike ride or forest hike.
Paddleboard across Lake Ōkāreka
Fancy exploring Rotorua’s stunningly clear lakes and glow-worm caves while testing your balance and getting in a core workout? You can do all this and a whole lot more by jumping on a tour with Paddle Board Rotorua.
Run Kiwi-style in small groups, the laid-back team of guides will let you call the shots on how adventurous you want to be or where you'd like to explore. See the lake's glow-worm caves with a romantic sunset tour or combine a day paddleboard tour with a mountain bike trip beforehand. For the thrill-seekers, ask to stop by the jumping rock for a cheeky dive along with the locals.
Enjoy some geothermal activity
One can’t write about wellness in Rotorua without including a soak in one of their world-famous geothermal hot pools. At the Polynesian Spa, you have 28 hot mineral pools to jump between, all sourced from two natural springs.
Need a respite from some aches and pains? Soak in the pools filled with the slightly acidic waters of Priest Spring. Those looking for a boost to their complexion should spend a while in the Rachel Spring's alkaline waters, which nourish the skin. For ultimate relaxation, finish your soak with a luxurious spa treatment or mud massage.
DETAILS For more things to see and do in the region, go to rotoruanz.com
This story was originally published on March 8, 2022.