Rotorua is the most popular tourist destination on New Zealand's north island. Known as 'Sulphur City', Rotorua has extreme thermal activity. Bubbling mudpools (natural minerals in Rotorua mud help feed and cleanse the skin), gurgling hot springs, gushing geysers and their foul smells pervade. The combination of sulphur and heat has caused barren landscapes where only the hardiest plants survive, but colour is provided by iridescent mineral deposits. Oranges, reds and emerald greens compensate for the lack of colours usually provided by plant life.
The area also boasts serene lakes, trout springs, wildlife parks, farm shows and adrenaline activities. Thanks to its large Maori population, Rotorua is New Zealand's best place to enjoy a traditional hangi meals cooked in an earth oven, accompanied by Maori music.
"Manaakitanga" is Rotorua's catchcry, a deep-rooted Maori concept placing responsibility on your hosts to give the best of themselves, their time and history. That feeling begins when you arrive and you take it home with you.
At the centre of the Taupo volcanic zone, which extends from the central plateau, there are three volcanoes Ruapehu, Ngharahoe and Tongariro. The area extends to White Island, 50km north-east of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. It's there you find Wai-O-Tapu, a unique geothermal area with internationally significant features.
Wai-O-Tapu has the large, boiling Champagne Pool which covers around 3000 square metres. Its effervescence and colour gives it its name. There are craters and blowholes, colourful mineral terraces and the Lady Knox Geyser, which spouts at 10.15am each day and gushes for an hour.
There are 130 volcanic domes, including at least seven major explosion craters. All this is caused by a large faultline created by the Australian-Indian plate being forced together.
Just 10 minutes from Rotorua is the latest addition to the Peppers chain, Peppers on the Point. It is surrounded on three sides by Lake Rotorua and is the perfect base for experiencing the surrounding geothermal wonders.
Peppers On The Point, sitting on what was once a Maori pa (a fortified Maori village), is steeped in a history of ancient battles and life. It looks towards the historic Mokoia Island. The building is a converted 1930s two-storey mansion, filled with antiques and offering nine suites, most with views of the lake. It has wonderful, large entertaining rooms with open fireplaces, a timber-panelled dining room and timber staircase.
Its 2.8ha of gardens run to the lake edge and private beach and remnants of the Maori pa on the headland are surrounded by small areas of native bush. The fields where the original family's horses and ponies were kept are now grazed by a small flock of sheep.
The property has several reception rooms, including a reading room/library, pool room, large entertaining rooms and several dining rooms where guest dine on fine cuisine accompanied by local and international wine. You can choose to eat with other guests, in a private dining room, your suite, the cellar or, in warm weather, al fresco overlooking the lake. Drinks and canapés are served by the fire or on the terrace.
You can fly fish from the private beach, indulge in water sports, tennis, the gym or go boating and relax with a pampering massage.