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Our Rotorua travel tips:

  • Rotorua region travel tips: Mount TaraweraMany Rotorua attractions have a price tag, but even if you're the adventurous type don't hesitate to visit one of the famous thermal areas and a hangi (Maori feast) and performance, as they are all well organised and owned by local Maori tribes, as authentic as you'll probably be able to find in New Zealand - certainly you'll make some unforgettable memories during your visit.
  • There are plenty of other attractions as well, this is a place where nearly everything is possible, from world class river rafting to skydiving and zorbing
  • Rotorua is a great destination even if it's cold or rainy, the steam vents are then even more impressive and you can always warm up again in one of the many hot pools
  • The extreme amount of thermal activity is the reason why the whole region smells of sulphur - you'll get use to it and it's all part of the experience!
  • Rotorua region travel tips: Hamurana SpringsOne of those 'Pure New Zealand' spots, the cold clear water of the Hamurana Springs is a surprising find among all the thermal activity
  • Another surprising sight is the Redwood Forest south of town, separate to the walkways are some of the best mountain bike tracks in the world
  • Catch a gondola to get some good views over Rotorua from Mt Ngongotaha, or drive up its Mountain Rd, then walk all the way to the top if you have time
  • Start picking up brochures in Coromandel or Taupo as many sites are on the way from there

Rotorua region travel tips: Rotorua museum

An adventure, cultural and spa destination like no other

With its unique volcanic landscape, living Maori culture, natural hot springs and plenty of options for adventure, Rotorua is one of New Zealand's most famous destinations.

In Rotorua, cool spring mornings often bring sunny days ideal for enjoying the region’s natural assets - spectacular geothermal activity, fantastic mountain biking, scenic walks and excellent trout fishing. Spring nights are perfect for soaking in the healing waters of a mineral spring in velvety darkness.

The region was the birthplace of New Zealand tourism in the 1800s, when people flocked here from around the world to see the amazing Pink and White Terraces - vast, naturally formed silica terraces that cascaded into a volcanic lake. The Te Arawa people were their local guides. The terraces were destroyed in the 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption, but Rotorua's fame as a fascinating travel destination continued to grow. Today Maori guides can often be seen at the city's iconic attractions, following in the footsteps of their ancestors.

Rotorua region travel tips: geothermal activity on Rainbow MountainWhen explaining the appeal of their region, the people of Rotorua like to talk of five spirits. You can feel the spirit of the earth, as it rumbles beneath your feet and escapes, hissing, through fumaroles and geysers. You can witness the spirit of Maori culture, with authentic village and performance experiences. With a soak in a natural hot spring or a relaxing massage, you can rejuvenate your spirit. Or free your spirit with outdoor adventures - trout fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, swimming, hiking and mountain biking. And if it's excitement you crave, you can challenge your spirit with adrenalin-charged extreme activities such as sky-diving, jet boating and zorbing.

Apart from its surprising crater, mountain and lake landscape, Rotorua is memorable for striking Tudor-style architecture and beautiful public parks. The farmland around city is some of the most fertile in New Zealand. Watching a sheep show or staying on a working farm is a great way to get a different view of the region.

Rotorua region travel tips: river raft this waterfall!Dare to be adventurous: Roll downhill inside a zorb, try some 360-degree spins in a jet boat or race your friends on a luge cart. Rafting, kayaking and sledging are also popular - trips on the Kaituna, Rangitaiki or Wairoa Rivers are a blast!

Indulge yourself: Rotorua is known as ‘Nature’s Spa of the South Pacific’ and offers visitors many opportunities to rejuvenate their spirit. Soak in the healing waters of hot springs or unwind with a therapeutic massage or mud wrap.

Cultural heartland: Rotorua is the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture. Learn carving or weaving from master artists, sample contemporary food cooked using traditional methods or participate in Maori singing and dancing shows.

See here for hotels in Rotorua.

Source: Tourism New Zealand

Rotorua highlights

  • Rotorua region travel tips: Rotorua lakefrontRotorua centre: Even in the middle of Rotorua you can see thermal activity, especially in Kuirau Park and on the shores of Lake Rotorua, with an interesting walking track and boardwalk to Sulphur Point. The earth's crust is about 1 metre thick in some places and 100 degrees celsius mud is bubbling in some holes, so be careful. A landmark not to miss is the Tudor-style Bath House from 1908, now a fantastic museum set in the government gardens. The museum will inform you about the geological wonders and volcanic eruptions in the area, the local Maori history, as well as the history of these baths themselves that were built during the beginnings of early New Zealand tourism. If you're hungry head for Tutanekai Street, a real foodie heaven.
  • Ohinemutu: On the lakeshore just nRotorua region travel tips: Ohinemutu villageorth of Rotorua is the original Maori settlement of Rotorua, really worth a visit because of the carved meeting house and church (not accessible inside) as well as the quirky cooking ovens in the gardens that make use of the earth's heat - free cooking! Many houses in the region are thermally heated, also most swimming pools are a pleasure in the middle of winter.
  • Geothermal areas: Te Puia is the home of Pohutu Geyser, New ZeRotorua region travel tips: Waikite boiling riveraland's biggest, and much more, complete with Maori cultural attractions. Neighbouring Whakarewarewa Thermal Village is a real lived-in settlement with cultural tours, showing Maori life in midst of such geothermal activity. Wai-o-Tapu is the home of the famous Champagne Pool and Lady Knox Geyser which erupts every morning at 10.15am, initiated by soapy water! Just outside you can see the largest mud pool for free and nearby is also Kerosene Creek, where you can soak in a hot steaming river in the middle of a forest. Waimangu Valley is ideal for walkers and leads down to Lake Rotomahana, one of the craters following the massive Tarawera eruption from 1886, see how nature fights its way back from destruction. Hell's Gate has a big diversity of geothermal curiosities, such as a hot waterfall and a sulphur lake. The Polynesian Spa in town and Waikite Thermal Pools to the south make good use of all the heat, the latter's impressive 98 degrees celsius hot spring can be seen gushing out its water.
  • The Rotorua lakes: Lake Rotorua is interesting to drive around, the views overlooking it are excellent from Mt Ngongotaha (there is a street and a gondola). Further along the Hamurana Springs are just as exciting as hotRotorua region travel tips: Rotorua style cycling springs, the amount of cold crystal clear water gushing out of the forest floor is astonishing (on Hamurana Rd look for the Hamurana Springs Golf Resort). There are more great walks along the Kaituna River in the Okere Falls Scenic Reserve, where you can witness some wild river rafting. Further on is Lake Rotoiti with carved meeting houses on the way. More bush walks can be found around the charming Lake Okataina. From Rotorua you can also go on a cruise to Mokoia Island with its bush walks in the middle of Lake Rotorua. You'll pass the Blue and Green Lakes on the way to Lake Tarawera, once the site of the Pink and White Terraces, similar to Pamukkale in Turkey but sadly destroyed during the 1886 eruption.The Te Wairoa Buried Village is a reminder of the times when early tourism was booming, tourists flocking in from around the world then to see both the famous terraces and Maori culture.
  • Rotorua region travel tips: a Redwood groveRedwood Grove: In a series of experimental forests to establish the right plantation species for New Zealand conditions, in 1902 a redwood forest was planted in the Whakarewarewa State Forest Park. The trees grow three times faster here than in California, the walking and mountain bike tracks are especially attractive because of the exotic tree ferns growing in between (but actually it's the redwoods that are the exotic species...).

Best Rotorua walks

  • The Redwoods / Whakarewarewa Forest - many walking tracks like the Redwood Memorial Grove Track (30 min) or the Waitawa Walk (1 h), Long Mile Road, Rotorua
  • Lakefront Reserve - walks on the lakeshore, Lakefront Drive, Rotorua
  • Rotorua region travel tips: viewpoint on Pohaturoa trackKuirau Park - walks in a park with geothermal attractions, Rotorua
  • Blue Lake Track - around the lake (1,5 h), access via Tarawera Road
  • Hamurana Springs Track - to a crystal clear cold spring and a stand of redwoods (40 min return), access from Hamurana Road
  • Okere Falls Track - along the wild Kaituna River, Trout Pool Road at State Highway 33
  • Rainbow Mountain-Crater Lake Walk - geothermal attractions (30 min return or 3 h return to the summit), access from State Highway 5
  • Tarawera Falls Track (20 min), access from Waterfall Road car park
  • Lake Okataina - a range of walking tracks, access from Lake Okataina car park, Tauranganui Bay

Rotorua region travel tips: Mount Ngongotaha lookoutBest Rotorua viewpoints

  • Mount Ngongotaha (757 m altitude) - views also from the gondola station or the restaurant, access to the walking track at the end of Paradise Valley Road
  • Pohaturoa Track to Whakarewarewa Lookout (2 h return), access from Waipa State Mill Road

Best Rotorua museums

  • Rotorua region travel tips: Maori fence in the Government gardensRotorua Museum - Te Whare Taonga O Te Arawa, in the historic Bath House, Government Gardens, Rotorua
  • Buried Village incorporating the Museum of Te Wairoa - the history of the Tarawera eruption,Tarawera Road

Map of Rotorua

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