Approximate Driving Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
A great continental breakfast delivered to our unit at the Econo Lodge Cleveland set us up for a busy day ahead. Having the breakfast delivered the night before (and stored away in our own kitchen fridge) gave us the luxury of being able to eat at our leisure, thus reducing the chance of a too-tired-for-this-meltdown (mine, not the kids – I am NOT a morning person!). We said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and our little home-away-from-home and set off to explore more of Rotorua.
First stop for the day was Skyline and a gondola ride up to the top for awesome views across Lake Rotorua. The ride up is an adventure in itself (with the obligatory, “I can see my car from here!”). From the top it was a thrilling ride back down on the awesome luge runs. Everyone started off on the slow route first to get used to the way the luge handles (and to find that all important braking mechanism) and then it was all on for the intermediate and fast tracks. A chair lift brought everyone back to the top after each luge run. Don’t leave Skyline without making a stop at the Jelly Belly shop. They’ve got every flavour jelly bean you can think of plus a few that you would never consider!
Skyline Rotorua: Clockwise from top left – Gondola ride, ready for luging, the view from
Skyline Rotorua. Jelly Belly shop
On the road again and the rain was back with a vengeance as we travelled the short drive to Taupo. We waited out the rain while we grabbed lunch in Taupo – with collective horrified staring at the downpour and thoughts of building an ark. But the rainclouds departed pretty quickly for our next activity.
The activities at Mind Junction were a highlight of our road trip. We had such awesome fun here. Our first activity was a flight simulator. Who would have thought that my kids knew what barrel rolls were! Thank goodness it was only a simulation but I think we still took out most of the Vegas strip (you can choose a variety of locations). Next up was the fantastic maze. Not only do you need to find your way to all four coloured corners of the maze but there are also several animal images, trivia questions and answers to find too. As a family we love a challenge and this was right up our alley, working together in this instance to solve the questions. We followed this up with a game of minigolf and that was the end of the collaboration! It’s every man for himself in our family when it comes to minigolf and this course was suitably fun and challenging. Next we tried the shooting simulator and we have now established that mum is not to be messed with when armed. There were also remote controlled boats, puzzles, model trains, a huge LEGO display and holograms. Great fun for everyone!
Mind Junction: Clockwise from top left – Flight simulator over Las Vegas, Gnome gallery looks on at the mini golf, Finding our way in the maze, Taking on the maze challenge.
A touch of luxury
Taupo is on our regular route to visit the grandparents further north. Travelling through the town dozens of times we’ve often looked longingly at the lakeside motels, wishing for a rest stop. This time our road trip meant that we finally got to stay in one of these resort-style motels – the Comfort Inn Cascades. Our two-storey suite was very luxurious. The suite had a lounge and dining area leading out to our own private patio complete with table, chairs and BBQ. Just a few steps took us directly to the water’s edge of the sweeping expanse of Lake Taupo. The kids made themselves at home in their own bedroom in the mezzanine level (cue the launching of various soft toys from above to bombard dad down below). With two bathrooms including showers and a spa bath there was hardly any need to queue after we had enjoyed the motel’s fantastic heated swimming pool. The motel also has a spa, playground and bicycles for hire – perfect for family adventures around the lake. PJ’d and warm and cosy, we ate in and gathered around the dining table for cards, drinks and snacks – a nice, relaxing way to spend the last evening of our trip.
Comfort Inn Cascades
This blog was written by Julie Scanlon of Kidspot NZ. Julie and her family were sponsored by Choice Hotels Asia-Pac on their 5 day road trip of the lower North Island.