A low-slung town set along its namesake lake, Rotorua is known for its bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs. The original tourist destination of the country has been enthralling visitors from all over the world for the past 200 years.
Sulphurous geysers and mineral-rich hot springs scent Rotorua; it’s the town’s most distinctive feature. And will hit you as soon as you arrive. Feast your eyes on a moonscape of wildly-coloured silica terraces and bubbling ponds. Enjoy a therapeutic spa day, swim in a lake, or go enjoy some adventure sports.
What’s more? The town also holds a prominent place in Māori culture and is one of the best places in the country to see traditional Māori performances, as well as delve into the history and heritage of the local tribes. Also, almost a third of the locals here are Māori, more than any other city in New Zealand.
|Language||English and Māori|
|Currency||New Zealand Dollar|
|Time Zone||GMT +13|
|Area||2,615 sq km|
We’ve hand-picked some of the absolutely best things to do in Rotorua. Make sure you try them all.
Rotorua is the heart of the Māori culture and is a treasure trove of diverse historical sites of Māori legacies. Experience cultural performances, traditional tattooists, to famous geographical structures and buildings which have been in existence for hundreds of years.
An evening at the Mitai Māori Village lets you steep yourself into the local culture and people. Or you could even choose to stay overnight in the village of Marae. Enjoy a traditional hangi meal, cultural performances and music, warrior canoe and sacred freshwater spring. Learn about their history, carvings and Tā moko (tattoo art). Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance, followed by a spine-tingling haka finale. Paddle the languid waters of Lake Rotorua in a beautifully carved canoe, while a local serenade you with a traditional song. Or you could help the locals rustle up a meal in the traditional way using geothermal energy for cooking and heating.
Nau mai haere mai - Welcome to Te Puia. Te Puia has plenty of geothermal marvels to explore. Pohutu Geyser is the star of the show and the region’s largest geyser. Pohutu means ‘constant splashing’ in Māori. It shoots water up to 30 meters in the air in eruptions that can last for days on end (one lasted for 250 days!) but are more likely to last a few minutes. Enjoy the fine mist of water engulf you every time it erupts.
Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, home to one of the oldest surviving Māori villages. It’s alive with hot pools, boiling mud and geysers. The Māori people have lived here for centuries, co-existing in harmony with nature. Using its bounty for therapeutic uses as well as cooking, washing, bathing and preparing flax. This cooking pool is named after the tuatara (too-a-tah-rah), an ancient lizard-like reptile only found in New Zealand.
Te Puia is also home to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. It was established in 1963 to maintain and preserve traditional Māori culture, art forms, crafts, heritage and more. Learn about the prestigious art forms of wood, bone and stone carvings, that have been handed down through generations. If you’re brave enough, take back a souvenir that will last forever, in the form of a Tā moko (Māori tattoo).
The name "Waitomo" comes from the Māori words wai, water and tomo, hole or shaft. Discover an ancient world 30 million years in the making with a boat ride through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Marvel at mother nature’s light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. The glowworm is native to New Zealand, making it an unmissable marvel. Learn about its history as well as the stalactites and stalagmites, fossils and cave creatures.
Rotorua is home to the magnificent Redwood Forest. It has over 5,600 acres of exciting recreational opportunities, a diverse range of exotic tree species, a mix of native undergrowth, panoramic views, and much more. The forest is also home to endangered species of birds such as the New Zealand Falcon, North Island Robin and occasionally Whitehead (bird)
If you want to get a bird’s eye view, then hop aboard the 20-meter high, 700-metres long, treewalk. It is a one of a kind experience consisting of a series of 28 suspension bridges, which traverse between 27 majestic 117-year-old Redwood Trees. The walkway has been specifically designed and constructed to preserve the trees and its surroundings.
The forest also has superb mountain biking and hiking trails amongst towering trees and crisp forest air for company.
Just an hour’s drive away from Rotorua are the magical lands of Middle-earth and the Shire. Ever since the first, The Lord of the Rings movie was released in 2001, New Zealand has been known as the 'Home of MIDDLE-EARTH. The village of Hobbiton was created here and has been the location for The Hobbit Trilogy, along with 150+ locations in New Zealand. Get a photo taken in front of a hobbit hole or the by the pond while your guide entertains you with stories and insider secrets about the filming.
Paddle to the edge of Lake Rotoiti and relax as the stunning flora and fauna show off their beauty all around you. Enjoy the fantastic birdlife, as swans glide around you, looking for food. Marvel at the fascinating bushland including the native pohutukawa, the New Zealand Christmas tree. Reach the pinnacle of your kayak tour at the world-famous glowworm caves.
If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping action, then there’s nothing better than rafting on the mighty Kaituna River. It’s home to the world’s highest commercially raft-able waterfall – the 7m Tutea Falls.
From traditional Māori food to delicious local wines and craft beers, there’s something in Rotorua to suit all tastes and moods. The Rotorua Night Market is the perfect place to sample a variety of ethnic cuisine. You can also enjoy traditional Māori food with a hangi (food cooked in an underground pit) at one of many Māori evening tours in the city. Mix award-winning food with excellent views from the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar. You could also pack up a Te Puia — Steambox with veggies, meat and more, perch yourself on a rock and enjoy a meal by the Pohutu Geyser. Patrick's Gold Star Bakery has some seriously delish award-winning pies. Try the savoury or sweet, you’re in for a treat.
Although Rotorua is gorgeous year-round, most people prefer visiting in the summers, making it the peak season here. The long hours of sunlight from December to February make summer the best time to visit Rotorua for sightseeing and outdoor explorations, music and cultural events, festivals, activities and a lot more. This geothermal wonderland is also best experienced in the winters, from June to August. There are numerous natural hot pools and springs along with plenty of spa facilities that can help you relax and forget the cold.
Although, Rotorua doesn't have an international airport, the closest ones are at are Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch. Alternatively, you can also drive to Rotorua from the cities of Coromandel, Paihia, Taupo, Whangarei, and Hahei. The best way to get to New Zealand is to take a flight from India to Auckland. And then use the Intercity Bus services or cars to drive down here. You could also take an inter-city flight from Auckland airport to reach the Domestic Airport at Rotorua. Most international carriers operate connecting flights from all major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Rotorua has a long and interesting saga with many famous Māori legends and stories bubbling with history. Rotorua was discovered about 600 years ago by a Māori leader called Ihenga. According to folklore, while on a hunting trip for his pregnant wife, one of Ihenga’s dogs ran away, chasing a kiwi. When the dog returned, his coat was all wet and he threw up a half-digested fish. That’s when Ihenga realised there must be water nearby, so he explored the area, discovering Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotorua. The area was initially settled by Māori of the Te Arawa Iwi in the 14th century.
The full name for the city and lake is Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe. Where, Roto means 'lake' and rua means 'two' or in this case, 'second' – Rotorua thus meaning 'Second lake'. It is one of 18 sparkling lakes, surrounded by magnificent native and exotic forests. The city is home to Te Arawa iwi, one of New Zealand’s largest Māori tribes.
Then, in the 1880s, Rotorua was developed into a "special town district" to attract visitors from the world over to its unique natural spa. Since then, Rotorua’s Te Arawa people have been New Zealand’s first tour guides. The arrival of the railway in 1894 accelerated growth around the area and the government built a European-style spa with ornamental gardens, bathing houses and spa facilities.
Has the magical wonderland of Rotorua piqued your interest yet? If yes, then head on over to our excellently crafted packages that will let you experience the best and much more.
Wash away any fatigue and ill health in the hot springs of New Zealand’s famous geothermal hotspot with Rotorua holidays. Tourists have been coming to the town for Rotorua tours for several decades, and as such, Rotorua is better developed than that in other places in the country.
Several hot pools and geothermal parks in the town have been big attractions for vacationers selecting Rotorua travel packages. But there is more in store for you when you avail Rotorua holiday packages. Rotorua is also known for white-water rafting, boating and fishing.
You can take a Rotorua tour after reaching the town by car from Auckland. It’s a three-hour drive from Auckland. Visitors travel to Rotorua in Air New Zealand planes from major cities in the country, including Auckland and Christchurch.
See the verdant Government Gardens during your trip to Rotorua. The park has a museum and the Blue Baths.Rotorua is famous also for its lakes. Plan visits to the 14 lakes near the town to get some good photographs and make Rotorua vacation packages more memorable.