Rotorua is a city of around 70,000 inhabitants situated South of lake Rorotua in the Bay of Plenty (New Zealand’s North Island). A nice lakeside await us, good vibe, all right… So far, nothing really special, correct? What if I told you that this area receives over 3 million visitors per year? Well, there is got to be a reason (or reasons) for that. Keep reading to find out!
There is no complete visit to New Zealand without Rotorua. By the way, it smells like rotten eggs all over the place due to the volcanic activity in the region. Do not let this push you back though, and start getting used to it because you are definitely going to.
One of the best features of Rorotua is that there is something for everyone. From impressive sights to water activities. From Maori culture encounters to amazing thermal springs. Make sure you spend more than one day here to really take in all it has to offer.
If you do not have a lot of time to spare, make sure that at least you enjoy a little of Maori culture and some geothermal sights.
For the Maori culture part, there are two villages (Tamaki and Mitai) around Rotorua where you can be delighted by a Maori Hangi and a traditional dance show.The dances normally include hongi, poi, and haka performances. A Hangi is a traditional way of cooking (quite spread in the Pacific) that uses steam and holes in the ground. Be ready for some meat!
As for the geothermal sights, your best destination for this will be Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. It gathers some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes of this kind in New Zealand. Here you will find the Lady Knox Geyser, the multi-colored and boiling Champagne Pool, bubbling mud, and some others. A real treat for those interested in beauty, nature, and geological phenomena.
For those with more time, there is a wide array of options around Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty. For visitors willing to sweat a bit, there is wonderful mountain biking at Whakarewarewa Forest, kayaking at Lake McLaren (which can be done at night in the search of glow-worms) and even surfing and swimming at Mt. Maunganui. Interested in sharing waters with dolphins? Also possible! Head to Whakatane or Tauranga.
To put some thrill to your visit, do not miss the Skyswing, ziplines, Luge, and restaurant at the top of Mt. Ngongotaha. Also a great place for hiking and to take great photos of the lake below.
Needless to say that a stroll around Rotorua city is always a pleasant way to get ready for what is coming! And do not forget to try the Mata beer and eat lots of kiwis.
Do not worry much about how to arrange the activities you wish to do. The city is packed with agencies that will help you book all the attractions we have just covered. Also accommodations can do this for you too so that you just need to focus on enjoying to the fullest.
Fly: from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. The airport is 10km to the east and there is a Super Shuttle Service.
Drive: from Auckland (2.5-3 hours), Wellington (6 hours)
Bus: from Auckland (4 hours), Wellington (8 hours), and from many other parts of the North Island.