$50 MTA Gift Card. Congratulations to Tina Riley of Napier, who has won this week’s card.
Why do you recommend Rotorua as a mid-winter destination?
Well, I reckon Kiwis exude a lot of sniffy urban snobbery towards Rotorua. Have you noticed that when you mention to friends you’ve just been there, they tend to roll their eyes in a rather derogatory fashion? But Rotorua is not New Zealand’s Reno. It may well be the cradle of our tourism industry, but it’s unfairly viewed as a tacky tourist trap. Home to the Zorb and the Agrodome. The great thing about visiting the city in the winter, is there’s plenty of hot and steamy sights to warm the cockles, and the teeming coachloads of tourists, being led around by numbered ping pong paddles, are absent.
The multi-million dollar makeover to Rotorua Museum.
If you haven’t visited the city recently, a top drawer is the refurbished Rotorua Museum, which of course is housed in the historic tudor-style Bath House. 30 million dollars has been spent completing the original designs for the building, and the new Arawa Wing has only been open for two years. This extension to the museum is a dedicated gallery, to Te Arawa, tracing its journey across the Pacific seven hundred years ago, to the present day. Weta Workshops acrylic waka, showcasing the original voyage is a show-stopper. And the symbol of our twenty cent coin, the magnificent carving of Pukaki, also takes centre stage. This is the carving that became the poster child for the Te Maori exhibition in the US.
What’s happening in their new gallery space? ( Canterbury Quakes.)
The museum has a fantastic new temporary exhibition space, and an ever changing programme of visiting collections. Last week the Canterbury Quakes exhibition officially opened. It’s on-loan from Canterbury Museum, and will be in town until September.
The all-new attraction at Te Puia – the steambox hangi. What does this entail?
Well, of course Te Puia and the Arts & Crafts Institute has been a tourist hot spot for well over a century. And a new experience at Te Puia is the Steambox Hangi. You choose what what you’d like steam cooked for lunch. While its cooking, you get a hands-on tour of the weaving and carving schools. Try your hand at weaving. Take in the mud pools and hot springs, and then adjacent to the grand Pohutu Geyser, enjoy a steam box picnic lunch.
You’re a raving fan of Waimangu Valley. Why so?
In a city over-run with geothermal wonders, it can be hard choosing what to spend your money on. But what I love about Waimangu is that it strikingly illustrates the staggering power of nature. Waimangu is a hot and steamy teenager. It’s the youngest volcanic valley in the world, created as a direct result of the Tarawera eruption. And the valley, which is home to Frying Pan Lake and the Inferno Crater, is really an open window on the Earth’s molten core. Inferno Crater has the most amazing azure-blue tint. But if you fell in this crater lake, you would be dead in about 6 seconds. Plus, the boat ride on Lake Rotomahana, in the shadow of Tarawera, is a cracking trip. The boat takes you past the location of the pink and white terraces, and you’ll get the chance to view, up-close , new silica terraces, artfully being crafted by nature.
Plenty of places to have a hot dip in Rotorua…where’s best?
A thermal hot pool is just the tonic, to combat winter’s chill. And the Polynesian Spa is the pick of the bunch in my book, simply because of its prime lakeside location. The lakeside rockpools, are all super hot. Best enjoyed at night, I hopped around the pools,and soaked myself stupid, while the rain bucketed down. A liberating winter-busting experience.
Best walk? The Redwood Forest.
Just five minutes from the city centre, The Redwoods Forest is my top tip for walkers. This majestic grove of towering Californian redwoods were planted in 1901. It was all part of an experiment to see what exotic species could be grown successfully for timber production. Thankfully these stands of Redwoods have been safeguarded, because the grove makes for a spectacular walk. And the forest also become a popular haunt for mountainbiking, with new, dedicated bike tracks.
Place to Stay. Regal Palms Resort is a fantastic option. http://www.regalpalms.co.nz
Winter Motoring Tips from the MTA
Check for chips before putting the kettle on. In winter, use a good scraper to completely clear the windscreen, rear screen and side windows from all frost and ice before setting off. Don’t use make-shift scrapers such as CD cases or pour boiling water onto the glass. Always check your vision through all glass is clear, with no streaking caused by old worn wiper blades.
Get your vehicle winter ready. Get your vehicle winter ready by scheduling a service with your local MTA member business. The experts know what to look for – oil and anti freeze levels, wiper blades, filters and battery condition amongst other things. Your battery can be key, if your car isn’t starting as easily as usual get it checked. In winter we tend to use electrically based accessories so if your battery is not in top condition, it may let you down.
Tyres. Make sure your tyres are properly inflated. Over-inflation can reduce the gripping action of tyres because the tread will not meet the road surface as it was designed to do. If the tread depth of your tyres is getting low, it may be worth having them replaced. You should also check the manufacturers wear indicator mark on your tyre to see if they need replacing. If you’re going to be driving on snow, make sure you have the correct chains or snow tyres.
Good visibility – them and you. Winter often means reduced visibility, so you need to allow additional time for every trip. Make sure you can see out of every window and mirror, use a proper windscreen scraper and do not use hot water. Your air-conditioning system is your friend, use it to ensure good visibility during the colder months. Look out for cyclists and runners, as it’s especially hard to see along dimly lit roads. Makes sure your lights are all working properly and are correctly adjusted, get them on early and turn them off late.
Know what to expect. The sun is low in the sky in winter so be prepared for sun strike and make sure your front and rear screens are clean. Bridges and overpasses ice over faster than normal roads. Black ice is often very difficult to detect, so be especially vigilant after very cold, settled nights. Allow plenty of room between you and your fellow motorists – double the two second rule and give yourself four seconds.
Know when to accelerate and when to brake. When accelerating or braking, push the pedal gently at first then increase the pressure slowly. Remember, don’t steer if you are braking or accelerating and vice versa. Avoid driving in heavy snow, and if you have to, do it slowly, gently and progressively. Climb hills in the highest possible gear, reducing your engine’s revs will maximise the chances of traction and minimise the chance of spinning your wheels.
Things you might have with you. It makes sense to have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in the car, but there are other things you should consider for the colder months too, not just tools for changing a tyre. A torch, a mat or cover to protect you from the ground should you need to change a tyre, a disposable raincoat or poncho and protective gloves are all helpful. A multi-tool or Swiss-army type knife can be handy too. An emergency reflective triangle and a high visibility vest can be the difference between someone spotting you stranded on the side of the road and colliding with you.
Potholes – a car’s worst enemy. In winter, potholes can form and reach damaging depths in a matter of days. When driving, watch out for potholes and make sure you know what to do if you can’t avoid hitting one. Ensure your tyres are properly inflated, reduce your speed going over them, apply brakes gently, and don’t swerve to avoid them. If you hit a pothole, make sure you look for any damages as soon as you can.
The MTA Gift Cards are valid for one year from the date of activation and redeemable at participating MTA members. Check the website www.mta.org.nz to see where to redeem in your area.