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This drop dead gorgeous City is located in New Zealand's north island, resting on the southern shores of lake Rotorua. It's one of the most popular and iconic regions in the Country famous for its rich Maori culture, picturesque landscapes, and geothermal activity. Now if you don't know anything about the Maori people and their culture, this region is the place to really open up your mind and educate you about this incredible indigenous Polynesian group of mainland New Zealand.
'Rotorua' is a Maori word which means 'Second lake', and over one third of the population is Maori, making it the highest Maori proportion of any City in New Zealand. This heavy Maori population, has given Rotorua the reputation of being the City of community spirit, where its citizens have an enviable lifestyle, open up businesses, raise families, and support each other.
Lake Rotorua was created over 140,000 years ago, and the City is surrounded by lakes, 15 of which are fishable with trout (Rainbow, Brook, Brown and Tiger). This place is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists due to its bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs.
Things to do in Rotorua
You are spoilt for choice with things to do here no matter what type of tourist you may be. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie, nature lover, history nerd, or relax in a spa kind of individual - it's all available. The outdoorsy people are in for a real treat, as this City is surrounded by mountains, rivers, native forests and 18 fresh water lakes, making it the perfect place to reconnect with nature. From crystal-clear streams and magical forests, to epic biking trails and thermal mud pools, there are a range of activities to dive into. Walking, horse riding, and swimming or fishing in the lakes and rivers are some of the best ways to see the wildlife, breath-taking scenery and discover the region’s hidden gems. It's also a mountain biking haven with top quality mountain bike trails.
Rotorua is known as the adventure capital of the North Island, so make a note of the activities listed below which are sure to give you a good time. You can either book a tour, hire the equipment or bring your own gear!
Soak away your worries in one of the steam vents, bubbling mud pools and even some man made hot pools which are fed by the boiling ponds. This central city park has been ranked one of the top spots to experience some of Rotorua's geothermal activity - it's a public park so free to enter and very accessible.
Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience
This is an experience you cannot miss during your time in Rotorua. You could make your own way or find a tour company that will take you for an evening at the Mitai Maori Village to get an authentic introduction to Maori culture. You'll be mesmerised by the warriors in traditional garments paddling in ancient canoes, and be captivated by the displays of weaponry. You'll watch 'haka' and poi dances and view glow worms in their natural habitat. Truly an eye opening, educational and inspiring event to attend.
Explore Te Puia
70 hectares of one of the best geothermal spots in Rotorua. This valley is home to the famous Pohutu Geyser - the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere and one that erupts a couple of times an hour! So you'll definitely catch an eruption during your visit.
Kiwi Conservation Centre
One of Te Puia’s greatest attractions is its Kiwi Conservation Centre that allows you to really get up close and personal. If you’re a Kiwi who’s never seen a Kiwi, or a tourist who is fascinated by New Zealand's national treasure, Te Puia provides the perfect opportunity to make it happen. You'll be able to get a really close look at these endangered birds in a special darkened enclosure and learn about the sanctuary of how they're working to protect them.
Adrenline junkies - this is your chance to have a jam-packed day full of adventure! Dive into activities such as riding a BMX bike into a huge airbag, or trying the reverse bungee. Then you could swoop from 40 metres in the air, and race your mates on the Shweeb Racer, the only pedal-powered monorail track in the world. End the day with zipping through the water at a speed of 100 kilometres on the Agrojet or Xtreme Freefall (which will feel like you're skydiving without the plane!).
Eating Out in Rotorua
Alongside being a City of adventure, history and culture, Rotorua also is a hotspot for seriously amazing restaurants! Offering everything from contemporary New Zealand cuisine to global flavours.
You can't get a better place for a perfect breakfast. Head over to The Regent Room where you can treat your taste buds to some scrumptious pancakes, award winning dishes and a menu packed full of New Zealand's most delicious flavours.
If you fancy dining right by a geyser without having to bring your own picnic, then Pātaka Kai is right up your street. This restaurant is famous for its commitment to classic New Zealand flavours, super-fresh ingredients, and pleasantly modern décor. You can swing by for brunch (served between 9am-2pm on Sundays) where you'll be spoilt for choice with the most mouth-watering buffet of fresh pastries, fried bread, smoked salmon and much more! The restaurant also offers champagne, signature cocktails as well as a selection of soft drinks and juices.
Skyline Stratosphere & Bar
Now this is an upscale restaurant where you can indulge in high quality meats while soaking in the spectacular views. As well as prime cuts, the menu is mainly seafood and seasonal vegetables. If you fancy grabbing a bite of everything, put the menu to the side and indulge in their enormous buffet instead. The combination of delicious food and beautiful views, makes this restaurant well worth a visit.
Transport in Rotorua
Getting to and around Rotorua is easy as there are plenty of transport links. New Zealand's national airline (Air New Zealand) flies to Rotorua directly from Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. Driving there is just as easy as all the roads are sealed and well signposted. To get around Rotorua, the City provides excellent bus services operating on 11 routes from the Arawa Street interchange. Taxis and cost effective shuttle buses offering services between your accommodation, ski resorts, and other great attractions are also available. Campervans and motorhomes are a very popular way of travelling in New Zealand, and if this is an option you decide to take up, you’ll find plenty of holiday parks to experience total serenity and New Zealand’s extraordinary beauty.