Nowhere in New Zealand does the earth feel more alive than it does in Rotorua. Explosive geysers, colourful silica terraces, bubbling mud pools and natural hot springs – here, Mother Nature is at her most impressive. Add in fascinating Maori culture, magical forests and unique adventure activities, and Rotorua promises to be a real highlight of any New Zealand holiday.
Spend an evening being immersed in indigenous Maori culture at Mitai Maori Village. View warriors paddling an ancient waka (war canoe), savour a traditionally cooked Hangi (earth oven) meal and enjoy an authentic Maori performance.
For those that are after a little adventure, Rotorua offers so much to choose from. There’s the luge, a gravity-fueled ride where you zoom down the side of a mountain in your own four-wheeled cart, before catching a gondola to the top to do it all over again. Agroventures is home to bungy jumping, the ‘Swoop’ – where you drop towards the earth from 40m in the air – and a wind tunnel where you can experience the feel of skydiving.
Made over thousands of years, Wai-o-tapu Thermal Valley is a fascinating landscape of geothermal colour and energy. Admire the bright orange and turquoise ‘champagne’ pool, bubbling mud, impressive volcanic craters, steaming fumaroles and bright silica terraces.
Surrounded by lush native forest filled with birdsong, the Kaituna is a thundering river that winds its way through the outskirts of Rotorua. It’s home to the highest commercially raft-able waterfall in the world – the 7m Tutea Falls. You don’t need any experience to enjoy this rafting adventure; choose one of the four tour providers here.
Gain an insight into Maori culture and the myths & legends of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at Te Puia. Home to the iconic Pohutu Geyser as well as the National Schools of Wood Carving and Weaving, enjoy live Maori cultural performances as well as a live kiwi bird sanctuary.
Magnificent trees, birdlife and forests can be found throughout this region, and one of the best ways to enjoy them is with Rotorua Canopy Tours or the Redwoods TreeWalk. A Canopy Tour offers a unique combination of thrilling ziplining, forest walks and conservation stories on a 3.5 hour guided tour. Or, stroll the suspension bridges of the Redwoods Treewalk and feel the spirit of the iconic Redwood Forest.
Speaking of Redwoods – Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest Track, which winds its way through the biggest Redwoods in the country, was recently voted the best mountain biking in the Southern Hemisphere by Red Bull. Tracks range from Grade 2 through to Grade 5, so there’s something for everybody, and maps and rental bikes are available from the trailhead or one of the bike shops in Rotorua CBD.
One of the most active thermal parks in Rotorua, Hell’s Gate is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot water waterfall as well as examples of land coral and large areas of sulphur deposits. Make the most of the healing properties found in the geothermally heated mud and soak in a relaxing mud pool, or enjoy a mud facial or interactive Maori carving experience.
Enjoy ultimate relaxation at the Polynesian Spa. Settle into the peaceful lakeside setting and enjoy a range of lush spa therapies and mineral spring hot pools while taking in the views of Lake Rotorua. It easy to see why Polynesian Spa was voted among the world's Top Ten Spa's by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine.
Take a thrilling jet boat ride along the Waikato River before squeezing through an ancient rock passage known as ‘The Squeeze’ and soaking in a magical hot spring waterfall. New Zealand River Jet offers a great guided tour.