The geothermal city of Rotorua is a magnet for travellers, who come to discover volcanic phenomena and learn about New Zealand's Māori culture.

Volcanic and geothermal

Geyser by Night at Te Puia, Rotorua

The faint scent of sulphur in the air and escaping curls of steam are the first hints of the region's dramatic geothermal character when entering Rotorua.

  • Rotorua is part of the Volcanic Zone, a geothermal field extending from White Island off the Bay of Plenty coast to Mount Ruapehu in the central North Island.
  • Brilliant colours are a feature of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland's Artist's Palette and Champagne Pool. Lady Knox Geyser erupts every day high into the air.
  • Visit the amazing Waimangu Volcanic Valley, which is the youngest geothermal eco-system in the world with the largest hot water spring - 3.8 hectares - called Frying Pan Lakes. It was formed during the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886.
  • Watch the famed Pohutu Geyser, the undisputed star of the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, erupt up to 20 times a day to heights of 30 metres at Te Puia.
  • Hell's Gate is New Zealand's most active geothermal reserve with the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere and the only geothermal mud baths in New Zealand.
  • At Whakarewarewa - The Living Māori Village(opens in new window), the people have been hosting and welcoming visitors into their homes and backyards since the early 1800s, demonstrating the utilisation of the natural geothermal wonders for cooking, bathing and everyday living. 


Waituki Sculpture, Rotorua

Rotorua has a rich history with the city's heritage visible all around you.

  • Rotorua's beautiful Government Gardens is a Waahi Tapu area and is sacred to Māori, with a fascinating past as a battle and burial ground.
  • Visit the excavated sites at the Buried Village of Te Wairoa, which was buried by the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption.
  • Take a walk around Rotorua City following the information walking trail signs. They feature stories of the area and its history including black and white photos of the areas in the past to provide a stronger sense of Rotorua's historical identity.

Māori culture

Wahine Poi, Rotorua

Offering genuine warmth of welcome and hospitality (manaakitanga) is something that the Te Arawa Maori have been providing visitors to the Rotorua region for well over 150 years.

  • Take a journey back in time at a Māori village. In the depths of the forest, you will gain a clear picture of Māori lifestyle and traditions - with singing, dancing and a traditional hangi feast to enjoy. 
  • View, appreciate and learn about the traditional Māori arts preserved at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia). Speak with expert carvers and weavers and learn the history and processes involved with each art form. 
  • Visitors looking for a 'real slice of New Zealand' should seek out a marae stay, hosted by an extended Māori family (whānau).
  • The famous Māori love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai is brought to life with a day trip to Mokoia Island(opens in new window).

Adventure and adrenaline

Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua

Rotorua is home to an innovative bunch of Kiwis who invented the Luge, the Zorb, OGO, the Shweeb and Railcruising.

  • The Whakarewarewa Forest(opens in new window)'s unbeatable blend of 130km of mountain biking trails caters for all skill and fitness levels ranging from Grade 2 (beginner/families) through to Grade 6 (expert).
  • White water rafting has never been more exhilarating than on the Kaituna River where you can raft over the world's highest commercially raftable waterfall at 7 metres high!
  • At Velocity Valley(opens in new window) fly unattached on a giant wind column with Freefall Xtreme, take a ride on the Agrojet sprint boat, test yourself on the human-powered monorail – the Shweeb, scream away on the Swoop and experience a Bungy jump with views of Lake Rotorua.
  • Embark on a magical journey with Rotorua Canopy Tours through untouched native New Zealand forest mixing thrill and wonder through an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, ziplines and swing bridges.
  • Visit ZORB Rotorua(opens in new window) and jump inside a 3.5 metre inflatable globe and hurtle down specially designed hills on a 1 metre cushion of air. Hear the squeals of tyres and feel the G-forces on hairpin bends at Off Road NZ, home to New Zealand's newest and longest A-rated Kartsport circuit with Fench Sodi karts.
  • Fly-fish the rivers and lakes - hiring a guide almost guarantees a catch. Rotorua has 15 fishable lakes, a myriad of crystal clear streams and four different species of trout.

Family activities

Big Air ZORB, Rotorua, Rotorua

There's plenty of fun for all ages in Rotorua. Try some of these activities with your 'whānau' (family).

  • Experience an action-packed farm show featuring trained rams, sheep dogs, sheep shearing, cow milking and lamb feeding.
  • See the lions, trout, giant eels, waterfowl, deer and other interesting residents at Paradise Valley Springs.
  • Catch the gondola to the top of Mount Ngongotaha. Luge down the side of the mountain on the purpose-built tracks or scream your heart out on the Sky Swing.
  • Whakarewarewa Forest is a gem to explore, whether on foot or by bike. There are easy grade walks suitable for families and 14 beginner grade mountain bike trails. Rafting on the lower Rangitaiki River is available to families with children as young as five.

Spas and hot springs

Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa, Rotorua

There is a reason Rotorua is known as ‘Nature’s Spa of the South Pacific'. It offers visitors the opportunity to rejuvenate their spirit. 

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