Now that the kids are back to school and calm is restored, it is the perfect time to consider where you might head to next holidays or even for a long weekend away to break up the school term.
Our family’s new pick of favourite holiday destinations is Rotorua and in fact Freddie (9) claimed that a day of fun in this popular tourist destination was the best day of his life. High praise indeed and I can completely understand why.
Where else do you see geysers spouting water metres into the air, pools of bubbling mud, take a mid-winter swim in hot pools, travel in a gondola up a mountain, race a luge and then get within centimetres of our national icon, the kiwi? An action packed day for sure and this is not even considering the mountain bike trails, winter ice skating at the lake front or getting up close and personal with the animals at the Agrodome.
There is so much to do that you will find you need to be selective about where to spend your time (and dollars) and for us Rainbow Springs was one of our highlights.
We start our Springs visit with the Big Splash. Here the kids can ride as many times as they like or head into the playground to burn off some excess energy while parents take a break and relax with a coffee.
Once everyone has had their fix, it is then time to visit the nature of the Springs – the bird, reptile and fish life. With a mix of exotic and native birds plus a regular bird show, Rainbow Springs most importantly has a vital environmental role to play with their Kiwi Encounter programme.
This year Kiwi Encounter celebrates 10 years of nurturing and hatching brown kiwi and taking care of the chicks until they’re strong enough to go back to their natural wild habitat with a good chance of survival.
Kiwi Encounter has grown a lot over the years, from hatching 1 egg in its first season to more than 100 each season. The team has now welcomed more than 1,200 kiwis into the world and safely released them back to the wild.
The first egg came from the Tongariro Forest Kiwi Sanctuary and now Kiwi Encounter nurtures eggs from 13 conservancies and community kiwi trusts around the North Island. Only 5% of all kiwis hatched in the wild survive to adulthood with stoats, ferrets and weasels the biggest threat, closely followed by cats and dogs, so the help Kiwi Encounter offers is invaluable.
As part of your ticket entry to Rainbow Springs you can wander through the kiwi house and view kiwis going about their business and also return at night where you will get a chance to see kiwi up close and personal in an outdoor environment as they probe and dig for food and sometimes causing amusement as they quickly scurry around.
Rainbow Springs also runs unique Kiwi Encounter tours where you can view the working kiwi nursery and hatchery. During the tour you will see each of the stages a kiwi egg goes through before being released in to the wild – incubation, hatching and raising.
These tours are in addition to normal Rainbow Springs’ admission and the entry fee is donated to the National Kiwi Trust.
Kiwi Encounter also hatches eggs laid by its captive birds and has two breeding pairs onsite – soon to be five pairs! These birds produce eggs most seasons helping populate the NZ Captive breeding programme.
The Kiwi Encounter work relies on charity funding and support from a range of sponsors. If you would like to help with a kiwi conservation and sponsor a kiwi visit www.rainbowsprings.co.nz