Geysers, hot springs, Māori culture and adventure sports welcome visitors to this fascinating city on New Zealand’s North Island.
Bubbling hot springs and mud pools offer relaxation, shooting geysers provide astonishment and mountains present boundless opportunities for adventure in Rotorua. This tourist-friendly city spreads around the southern shores of Lake Rotorua and is the thermal wonderland of New Zealand’s North Island. Rotorua is also home to one of the country’s largest population of Māoris, whose culture is visible throughout.
Learn about the local culture and geological history at the Rotorua Museum, housed in an historic timber-framed bathhouse. The museum is located in the Government Gardens, which is also home to the thermal pools of the Blue Baths. From here, follow Queens Drive north to Sulphur Point to enjoy views across Lake Rotorua. Follow the lakeshore to St. Faith’s Anglican Church, a pretty church decorated with Māori art. Afterwards, check out the hot springs at nearby Kuirau Park.
Just south of Government Gardens is the geothermal Te Whakarewarewa Valley. It is home to the Māori villages and cultural centres of Whakarewarewa Thermal Village and Te Puia. Watch traditional dances, visit craft workshops and sample a hangi cuisine, an ancient technique of cooking in a pit. Te Puia also affords superb views of Pohutu Geyser, which erupts up to 20 times per day.
At the northern edge of the city the Skyline Rotorua takes you on scenic journey to the slopes of Mt. Ngongotaha. Enjoy thrilling zip-line and go-kart toboggan adventures or explore hiking and mountain-biking trails. Find more high-adrenalin activities, such as zorbing, jet-boating and bungee jumping at Agroventures Adventure Park. Get up-close with kiwis and other birdlife at Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park.
After a day of adventures, relax in the cafés, pubs and restaurants situated on the open-air dining and entertainment area of Eat Street. Its natural geothermal floor heating makes it an enjoyable place to be year-round. Alternatively, sample ethnic cuisine and browse for local arts and crafts at the weekly Rotorua Night Market.
Rotorua is about a 3-hour drive southeast from Auckland and well-connected with other North Island destinations by intercity buses. Rent a car or use public transport to visit geothermal attractions outside of the city centre. These include the Buried Village of Te Wairoa, Hells Gate and Waimangu Volcanic Valley.