Discover Wonderful Rotorua in New Zealand: A Black Swan Event

by | Jan 25, 2018 | Asia, New Zealand | 2 comments

Is a black swan an impossibility?

A black swan event is a rare event that comes as a surprise. The term was coined at a time when people presumed that all swans are white. The black swan theory says that any logical conclusion is disproved by the appearance of a single black swan in the reasoning process, since a black swan is an impossibility.

We had a black swan event in Rotorua. We went to Rotorua to see the hot springs (last week’s post) and to learn more about the Māori culture (next week’s post). It was a wonderful surprise to find that we loved Rotorua. It is a relaxing town with hot springs, beautiful gardens, redwood forests and … black swans. They exist!


What is your black swan event?

Lake Taupo offers a full slate of adventure activities

On the way to Rotorua, we stopped at Lake Taupo, a tourist destination in itself. There are much nicer photos of Lake Taupo online, showing turquoise waters and snow capped mountains. However, it was so windy when we stopped that I took this one photo and then retreated to a nearby park.

This Māori carving was done in 1927 by one of New Zealand’s most innovative carvers.

If you want to see all the things we did not do in Taupo, you can start here:

The Public Gardens next to Lake Taupo are beautiful

After a windy stop in Taupo, we were back in the car, on our way to the California Redwood Forest in Rotorua.

Finding a California Redwood Forest in New Zealand is a Black Swan Event

There is a magnificent California Redwood forest in the heart of Rotorua. The redwoods were planted in 1901 as part of a grand forestry experiment. Over 170 different tree species were planted to see what would grow. Most species died out but pines survived and thrived, as well as this stand of giant California Redwoods.

Here is a link with more info:

California Redwoods grow twice as fast in New Zealand because of the fertile volcanic ash and the temperate climate.

The average life span of a California Redwood is 600 years. Some live for more than 2,000 years.

The redwoods in Rotorua are just over 100 years old.

The thick bark on the California Redwood is an excellent insulator, protecting the tree from fire

Nothing lives in this geothermal river in the Redwood forest

The water is crystal clear and a beautiful vibrant turquoise.

Black swans and redwood trees cannot live in these waters.

You can do a Redwoods Treewalk on 21 suspension bridges

You can do a day walk. The trees are illuminated for a night walk. The cost is $25.

Here is the link:


We walked on the floor of the Redwood forest on groomed paths. It is free.

Mary Sutherland is the first woman graduate in forestry in the world

She graduated in 1906.

Before Mary Sutherland, a woman in forestry was a black swan event.

Rotorua adopted a ‘Wood First’ policy

Giant logs make a great backdrop for photos

Next, we are off to see what else will grow in Rotorua in the Government Gardens

This is the entrance to the Government Gardens

The Prince’s Gate Arches are wooden arches built for the royal visit by King George V.

This is a Māori fence at the entrance to the Government Gardens

The Government Gardens were once a ‘howling wilderness’

The Government Gardens were once a swampy, scrub-covered wilderness with steaming pools of boiling water and poisonous gases. The remaining geothermal pools give atmosphere to the gardens (as well as that distinctive sulphur smell).

The steaming pools are fenced off so that you can’t get too close. Who would want to get close to steaming water and poisonous gases?

Springtime in Rotorua is beautiful

The Government Gardens became a source of wonder when they defied predictions. Lots of things can grow in a ‘howling wilderness’ of boiling water and poisonous gases.


Blooming wisteria in a ‘howling wilderness’ of boiling water and poisonous gases is a black swan event

These stunted trees are alive

These are pollard trees. This form of severe pruning was popular when the trees were planted over 100 years ago.

The Bath House is an iconic image of Rotorua

The Bath House in the Government Gardens was built in 1908. This was New Zealand’s first major investment in the tourism industry. Thousands of tourists flocked to Rotorua to enjoy the geothermal pools in the Bath House.

The Bath House was closed in 1966.

You cannot enter the Bath House. There is a large sign that says the building falls below earthquake safety standards.


Luckily, there were no earthquakes while we were in New Zealand

Do you prefer yellow poppies or red poppies?

I like both so I included both photos.

This sculpture in the Government Gardens celebrates the new millennium

This bronze sculpture was commissioned in 2001 to mark the new millennium. The inspiration for the sculpture is the rich melding of Māori and European cultures.

This is a close-up of the sculpture

Rotorua is known for its black swans

After our visit to the Government Gardens, we strolled down to Lake Rotorua.

I was surprised to see many black swans. We have lots of white swans at our cottage on Lake Ontario. This is the first time I have seen a black swan.

Black swans were hunted to extinction by the Māori. The species was reintroduced in 1864. Rotorua is known for its thriving population of black swans.

Rotorua is a Black Swan Event

After our lakeside stroll, we went to dinner on Eat Street

Eat Street is great. I like the name. It is very descriptive.


Eat Street is all restaurants.

The weather is always perfect on Eat Street

Eat Street is covered in retractable awnings.

Each section of the retractable awnings is individually controlled by each restaurant. There is no need to come to a group decision on whether to open or close the awnings.

The clear covering over Eat street offers 99% UV protection.

Eat Street is lit up at night by LED lights that change colour, with millions of colour combinations.

Eat Street is heated by geothermal water in underground pipes. This allows for perfect alfresco dining all year round.


We dined outside in perfect weather on Eat Street on my birthday


Look at the bike rack

This is not my bike. I like the bike rack. I own a bike. It sits in the garage.

Me, riding a bike. Now that would be a true black swan event!


We went to Rotorua for the hot springs. It turned out to be a wonderful black swan event.

Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray