Rotorua is one place where the turbulent forces that formed New Zealand are most evident - a fascinating thermal wonderland, home to boiling mud pools, geysers, hot springs and colourful crater lakes. Sitting squarely on the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua has one of the world’s most active fields of geothermal activity. Visit bubbling orange hot pools, marvel at geysers erupting 30m into the air, and take a scenic flight to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, White Island. Once you finish sightseeing, soak tired bodies in geothermal mud baths and natural hot springs.
Rotorua is also the ancestral home of the Te Arawa people who settled here more than 600 years ago and their presence offers the visitor numerous cultural experiences. Try a hangi feast – cooked in the steaming ground, take a tour of an authentic pre-European Maori village or treat yourself to an indulgent spa therapy. If adventure is your thing, Rotorua has many attractions to get the adrenalin flowing; everything from skydiving and luging to zorbing and one of New Zealand’s best mountain bike circuits.
It’s also a big trout fishing area with fishing on the lakes and tributary rivers and if you’re unlucky there you can sight some of the huge trout (but, alas, not catch them) at Rainbow and Fairy Springs. With its international airport, Rotorua is also the gateway to the North Island’s skifields for excellent skiing and snowboarding at Mt Ruapehu in the winter.
- Located in the central North Island, Rotorua is a leisurely three-hour drive from Auckland.
- Air New Zealand and Qantas service Rotorua with daily domestic flights from Auckland (40 minutes), Wellington (one hour), Christchurch (1.25 hours) and Queenstown (2.5 hours).
- Rotorua’s central location means it’s an easy drive to other North Island attractions. Visit the beach at Mt Maunganui (one hour), Tongariro National Park (1.5 hours), North Island ski fields (2.5 hours) and the wine region of Hawke’s Bay (2.5 hours).