Trips to Rotorua

Relaxation and Maori culture in a landscape of volcanic nature

Rotorua is known for its bubbling mud pools, geysers, natural hot springs and fascinating Maori culture. The city offers a wide range of attractions and experiences for a variety of travellers, whether they are looking for excitement or relaxation. Rotorua is a comfortable destination for all ages, with a wide range of leisure and wildlife parks to keep everyone happy. 

Rotorua is a stunningly beautiful wonderland where you can admire unique landscapes shaped by volcanic activity in a geothermal park, relax in a natural hot spring or pamper yourself with a wellness retreat in a luxurious spa. 

Rotorua is surrounded by mountains, rivers, old forests and 18 freshwater lakes, making it an ideal holiday destination for nature lovers. It’s considered a mecca for mountain biking, and rightly so: the city has a number of world-class mountain bike trails.

The city region’s wildlife, breathtaking landscapes and hidden gems are best explored on foot, bicycle or horseback, and the numerous lakes and rivers are exciting places to fish. Indeed, Rotorua is a popular trout fishing destination, with plenty of fishing opportunities in its lakes and tributaries. 

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Rotorua attractions offer exciting things to do 

In Rotorua, you can get to know the New Zealand’s native kiwi birds and learn more about their situation. In the wild, only 5% of hatchlings reach adulthood. That’s why the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua takes responsibility for their conservation. Around 120 chicks hatch each year and are cared for until they reach young adulthood. The hatchery welcomes visitors to observe their activities for a small entrance fee. All proceeds from ticket sales go to National Kiwi Recovery. 

Kiwi Bird, Rotorua, New Zealand
Tutea Falls, Rotorua, New Zealand

River Kaituna and Te Puia

In the Kaituna River, which flows through Rotorua and Bay of Plenty, you can see Tutea Falls, a spectacular seven-metre-high waterfall. The most adventurous travellers can join Kaitiaki Adventures’ rafting trips. No rafting experience is needed to join a rafting trip – just bring an adventurous spirit and a change of clothes.

In Te Puia, you can explore the rich Maori culture and explore the myths and legends of the Whakarewarewa geothermal valley. You’ll also have the chance to see the famous Pōhutu Geyser, admire traditional works carved by students at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, and end of the day with a hāngī feast and celebration.

Rotorua for the adventurous

If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure, you can go on a zip line tour with Rotorua Canopy Tours and glide through the prehistoric forest. You’ll also get to cross 20-metre-high suspension bridges while admiring the stunning scenery. And if you’re wondering what to do in Rotorua at night, check out the Redwoods Treewalk and take the Redwoods Nightlights tour to experience an enchanting world of colour and light.

In addition to all the adventure, it’s a good idea to take a moment to relax in the serene lakeside setting of Polynesian Spa. There you can soak in the hot pools of mineral springs, known to ease aches and pains and nourish your skin. Alternatively, you can cleanse your mind and body the ancient way: apply geothermal mud to your body, then soak in the sulphur baths of Hell’s Gate. 

Rotorua, New Zealand

Shopper’s Rotorua

Most of Rotorua’s shopping is in and around the city centre. As the streets in the centre are quiet and the pavements are wide, shopping trips are pleasant. Whenever you get tired, you can take a break and head down to the lakeside for a picnic, or visit one of the many cafes and restaurants on Eat Street. 

Rotorua’s art galleries and boutiques are inspired by the rich Maori culture and history of the region. For skincare enthusiasts, Rotorua’s beauty products, enriched by the region’s geothermal elements, are well worth a visit. These products are available in any local gift shop.

Maori sculptor Joe Kemp uses wood and stone in his art to bring out the essence of each piece – the Wairua. Seeing Kemp’s work is a wonderful experience, and his open-air gallery can be visited at his private residence on the shores of Lake Rotoma. 

If you’re interested in a unique souvenir from New Zealand, consider a piece of pounamu (aka “greenstone”) jewellery carved by a master carver. You’ll also find pounamu carvings and other stunning Maori arts and crafts at Te Puia and the Rotorua Museum. New Zealand is also known worldwide for its wool products, and if you’re looking for gift ideas, Agrodome gift shop has some great wool products.

Hobitton, Rotorua, New Zealand

Day trips from Rotorua

Located in the heart of the North Island, Rotorua is also a gateway to other key destinations. For example, the ski resort of Mount Ruapehu is less than two hours away, and the nearest beach towns can be reached in less than an hour. 

On your trip to Rotorua, you can take a fascinating expedition to the Hobbiton Movie Set and explore the charming farm that was transformed into the enchanting Middle-earth for the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies. Conveniently located just an hour from Rotorua, it’s an ideal day trip destination. It’s important to note that a visit to Hobbiton should be booked in advance to ensure you can visit at the time you want. In addition, if you wish, you can take a guided group tour of Hobbiton from Rotorua.

The sublime landscapes of Lake Taupō

Lake Taupō is a magnificent crater lake just an hour and a half drive south of Rotorua. It was formed almost two thousand years ago by a massive volcanic eruption. One of the best ways to see evidence of the lake’s fiery birth is to visit the craters, where you can observe geysers, steaming craters and boiling mud pools. Just north of Taupō, the spectacular Huka Falls is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions, where you can marvel as more than 220 000 litres of water thunder over the cliffs every second.

Lake Taupō, Rotorua, New Zealand

Getting around Rotorua

Rotorua city centre is easily accessible on foot, and there are also 11 bus routes covering the city and its many attractions. Bus route No. 3 takes you to the Redwoods Visitor Centre and Treewalk. You can pay cash on the buses.

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