Rotorua on the Thermal Explorer Highway

Whether you are after an adrenaline adventure-packed itinerary or a more relaxing tour of spectacular landscapes, you will find it on the Thermal Explorer.

Heading south from Auckland, the drive to Rotorua along the Thermal Explorer Highway allows for an easy detour to the Hobbiton Movie Set. No journey to the Central North Island would be complete without checking into the Shire of Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Hobbit fame. Swig back a Frogmorton Ginger Beer at The Green Dragon Inn (just like Frodo!).

On the road south again, you will know you are reaching Rotorua as you drive down into the deep caldera and welcomed by expansive views of Lake Rotorua and beyond. Make some time during your stay to drive around and explore the many sparkling lakes of this beautiful region. Stay overnight at the Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort and explore the lakes with a ride on a WWII amphibious landing craft with Rotorua Duck Tour. For a lake experience with a bit of a thrill, Kawarau Jet combine's speed and spins with a visit to Mokoia Island and the famous hot pool where Tutanekai played his flute for Hinemoa. Waimarino Kayak Tours will guide you around the beautiful Lake Rotoiti with a visit to hot pools and glowworm caves.

Rotorua is famous for its geothermal landscape with spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools and colourful sinter terraces. There is an extensive range of spa and wellness therapies available in Rotorua, many using the healing properties of the volcanic mud and thermal springs that occur naturally in the region.

Rotorua is also home to world first adventure activities such as the Shweeb at Agroventures Adventure Park and OGO. A must do for adventure lovers is white water rafting on the Kaituna River and the epic Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.

Before leaving town, experience true manaakitanga (hospitality) of Rotorua, the heartland of Māori Culture. There are a range of options for experiencing a Māori hangi (food cooked in an earth oven) and cultural performance.

The picturesque lakeside town of Taupō provides opportunity to get your thrills with skydiving and bungy jumping, either solo or tandem, over the mighty Waikato River.  For a more sedate experience take a cruise on Lake Taupō, the largest lake in New Zealand, and try your hand at trout fishing. 

From Taupō continue your drive along the Thermal Explorer Highway to Napier, an attractive town rebuilt in the Art Deco style following a massive earthquake in 1931. Alternatively, head back to Rotorua for more great activities. Treat yourself to a bit of luxury, staying at Treetops Lodge & Estate. This award winning lodge offers a range of luxury experiences. Compliment your stay with a visit to the newly opened Redwoods Treewalk, a half kilometre walkway suspended high above the ground between Rotorua’s majestic Redwood trees or try ziplining with Rotorua Canopy Tours, winners of the Supreme Tourism Award for 2016.

For more information on what to do during your visit to Rotorua, call into the Rotorua i-Site and Visitor Centre. The friendly staff are always happy to help and can book tours and accommodation for you for throughout your journey.

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