The sun smiled down on 127 Rotorua locals on Sunday as they jumped on the Lakeland Queen and made their way over to explore Mokoia Island.

Many of those who came over were taking part in the Rotorua Walking Festival, so with sneakers on and drinkbottles in hand, they tackled the Mokoia Island summit.

Rooney Bunink said it was a hard climb but well worth it once she reached the top and Sally Jelenski said she really enjoyed the hike up.

“On the way back down, we had a nice quiet time and watched the birds which was fascinating as a little robin flew over and ate bugs when we shifted leaves on the ground,” she said.

Many people also walked around the ridgeline of Mokoia Island and then those who had brought along a picnic lunch snacked by Hinemoa’s pool overlooking Lake Rotorua.

Barry Collins went along and said the trip was a great idea for locals.

“I heard many people say they had lived in Rotorua for many years but they had not been there till Sunday.”

The Department of Conservation is one of the organizers of the Rotorua Walking Festival and ranger Rob Griffiths said it was fantastic that locals could experience a different perspective of Rotorua from the middle of the lake, enjoying the Island’s natural beauty.