In 2014 Matt and his wife Kat sold their stuff, quit their corporate jobs, and set off for an open-ended travel adventure with their twin 3-year-olds.
Picture Story: Rotorua Government Gardens
We were wandering the Rotorua Government Gardens on the North Island of New Zealand, enjoying the lush flora before heading to one of the local hot spring spas.
We had just begun our three-week camper van journey across both New Zealand islands and already felt like we needed a bit of relaxation time.
We took this trip before we were full-time travellers and we were on a manic schedule to take full advantage of every minute we had away from work.
We had been in the country only about 2 days and had already covered a lot of ground.
Immediately after we arrived we drove from Auckland to the glow worm caves of Waitomo and went on a hike to a waterfall.
The next day we explored the Hobbiton movie set, and finally travelled to Rotorua.
Gardens like these are some of our favourite attractions when we travel. We find them a peaceful respite from busy cities, and they present great opportunities for the kids to run around and burn off some energy.
On top of that, they’re usually free or very inexpensive! Most cities have some form of the park or botanical garden and we almost always find ourselves enjoying the serenity they offer.
The Rotorua Government Gardens are very structured, with clean lines and clearly delineated beds.
We were excited to find entire beds filled with Gerber daisies, my wife Kat’s favourite flower. Red ones, pink ones, orange, and more.
I considered collecting a bouquet of official Government Garden daisies to decorate our camper van, but quickly thought better of that idea!
In the middle of the gardens, dozens of men in crisp white outfits were scattered across the immaculately trimmed green lawn.
Amongst the hot spring spas and gardens, it just happened that we stumbled upon a giant, very professional looking, bocce match.
Players were arranged into sides at each end of the pitch. They tossed colourful balls back and forth, consistently landing them impressively close to their target: a little white ball called a jack or pallium.
After getting our fill of this spectacle of a civilized sport we spent at least an hour wandering up and down paths between the flower beds.
The kids loved pointing out all the different colours and sniffing the blossoms to find the fragrant ones. All the while the bocce continued with the stately geothermal bath buildings as a backdrop.
To add to the scene there were butterflies of all shapes, sizes, and colours flitting around from bloom to bloom. They were like flying flowers.
The kids have always had an affinity for butterflies, and we look for opportunities to see them up close.
On this occasion in Rotorua Government Gardens, the butterflies were especially cooperative with their posing.
One by one they landed on the flowers and sat, waiting patiently for me to take their portrait.
This one settled on the Gerber for long enough for me to wait for a break in the wind and grab the shot.
The Rotorua Government Gardens (originally known as Paepaekumanu) is a public park, partly laid out as gardens, located by Lake Rotorua in central Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand.
Built by the government as a tourism attraction, it is still a major tourism destination for New Zealand.
This site is of historical significance to the local Maori people, with battles having been fought here.
The Maori gave 50 acres of land here to the British Crown in the late 1800s. The Government of New Zealand opened a large bath house here in 1908.
In 1933 a second building, the Blue Baths, opened under much controversy, as mixed bathing was accommodated.
The Blue Baths were closed in 1982, but were restored in 1999–2000.
The original Bath House, which opened in 1908, closed in 1966 for bathing. The building was extensively renovated in 1995 and converted into a museum.
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