Rotorua Attractions - An Amazing Thermal Wonderland And Adventure Playground
is one of our favourite North Island destinations.
Most visitors remember the distinctive smell of sulphur, but for us, Rotorua is fondly remembered as a place where, several decades ago, we first experienced a wonderful introduction to Maori culture, surrounded by a stunning backdrop of mud pools, geysers, and the beautiful Lake Rotorua. It's one of those places where you will never be lost for something to do, such is the wide range of Rotorua attractions (you can view and book Rotorua attractions HERE).
Rotorua is a region where Maori culture thrives in a unique geothermal landscape. It is one of New Zealand’s most famous and long-standing tourist destinations, and is home to over 65,000 residents.
Since the early 19th century, tourists have flocked to see Rotorua
attractions, and in particular, New Zealand's natural hot springs,
bubbling mud pools, and active geysers.
The region is a haven for adventure seekers who visit the region for a wide range of pursuits such as mountain biking (the Rotorua region has some of the best trails in New Zealand), trout fishing, bathing in natural hot pools, white water rafting, and sky diving, to name a few.
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* The best Rotorua attractions
* Maori culture and history
* Accommodation links
* Lots more to see and do
* Some Rotorua facts
Rotorua is around three hours drive south east from Auckland, following State Highway 1 and State Highway 5. Please see our State Highways map for more information.
You can fly to Rotorua from Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
There's a lot to see and do here, but to save you some time and frustration, we've narrowed it down to our "best Rotorua attractions".
Our selection is based on our own experiences and those of our customers.
All of the attractions listed are very highly rated, and all have received overall ratings of 4 stars or better.
Just scroll down to see the attractions that we (and our happy customers) think are the best of the best in Rotorua.
And you can also check out a huge range of other great tours and activities by clicking here.
Experience traditional Maori life at Tamaki Maori Village
This is a great tour, and over three and a half hours, takes you back in time to what it was like in a traditional Maori village.
Be welcomed to the village during the powhiri.
On entering the village, Maori instruments entice you towards the traditional whare (homes) and the wharenui (meeting house).
Once inside the wharenui, your Maori hosts welcome you with a cultural performance including song, dance, and the famous haka.
Then, to complete your experience you have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious Maori feast, known as a hangi, where your meal is cooked underground in earth ovens.
If you are looking to learn about Maori culture this is a wonderful experience.
People are raving about the Tamaki Maori Village, and you can read their reviews by clicking on the button below.
Come and see the best of Rotorua's geothermal wonders!
Your full day tour takes you to some of the best (and most popular) of Rotorua's geothermal sites.
Your local guide is a fountain of knowledge, and gives a great insight into the best geothermal features of the area.
The colored lakes are stunning, and seeing a geyser erupt is a unique experience that we will never forget.
Boiling mud pools and hot springs make you realize what an amazing place Rotorua is.
Your guide takes you on a real journey, revealing not only a lot of information about the geothermal features, but also about Maori culture and history, and about the local flora and wildlife.
A very enjoyable and informative tour.
To read reviews and check availability, just click on the button below:
Wow! Visit the actual Hobbiton movie set
Lord of the Rings fans rejoice!
Whilst in Rotorua you can visit the actual Hobbiton movie set.
This four and a half hour tour takes you through some prime North Island countryside, to the enchanting Hobbiton village.
You'll be amazed at how a working sheep farm was magically transformed into the set that was made so famous in the movies.
Hear about how the movies were made, and have your picture taken in front of a Hobbit hole.
Choose from morning or afternoon departures.
This is a really fun tour and highly ranked.
Check out the reviews by clicking on the button below:
Ever been on a Duck?
The Duck is an ex World War 2 amphibious vehicle that travels on land and water.
It just doesn't seem right to drive a vehicle into a lake, but that's exactly what happens on this great tour.
Over 90 minutes, your local guide takes you to some of the local highlights including Lake Rotorua, Sulphur Point, the Rotorua Museum, Mokoia Island, the Blue Baths, and more!
It's a great tour for all ages and you learn a lot about the area and it's history, in a relatively short time.
Read what others thought about the tour and make your bookings by clicking on the button below:
Rotorua has a full range of facilities including restaurants, shops, and accommodation.
With everything from hostels and camping grounds, to five star luxury accommodation, Rotorua has something to suit all tastes and budgets.
You can read reviews, check availability, and make bookings by clicking here.
A local favorite of ours
One of our favorite Rotorua hotels is the Novotel Rotorua Lakeside.
It features a heated indoor pool, gym, spa, sauna, restaurant and bar, room service, and conference facilities.
Located just meters from the edge of Lake Rotorua, we loved the views from the large picture window in our room. Large, clean, modern rooms, and an amazing indoor heated pool.
The town of Rotorua, on the shores of Lake Rotorua, is home to the Te Arawa iwi, one of New Zealand’s larger Maori tribes.
About 600 years ago, a Maori leader called Ihenga discovered the region.
Legend has it that he was hunting food for his pregnant wife when one
of his dogs ran off chasing a kiwi (the native flightless bird). The
faithful dog returned with a wet coat and threw up a partly digested
fish. Ihenga realised that there must be water nearby so off he went,
and discovered Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotorua.
The industrious Te Arawa people were New Zealand’s first tour guides, and since the 1800s, they’ve been hosting visitors from all over the world.
Celebrated as the eighth wonder of the world, the Pink and White
Terraces were the major attraction until 1886 when the massive Mt
Tarawera volcanic eruption destroyed the colourful silica terraces and
natural thermal pools. About 150 people died in the eruption that also
destroyed the village of Te Wairoa (known as the Buried Village).
Survivors of the eruption moved to Whakarewarewa Thermal Village where they continued their guiding tradition. Today, about 36 percent of Rotorua’s population identify as Maori, many with Te Arawa roots.
Rotorua New Zealand offers a rich Maori experience based on many local legends and long cultural history.
At Whakarewarewa, a living Maori village in an active geothermal setting, residents still use natural resources for cooking, washing and bathing. Guided tours include bubbling mud pools, mineral springs where families
bathe, and local cuisine cooked in thermal waters and traditional hangi ovens.
One of the more popular Rotorua attractions is Tamaki Maori Village, an authentic Maori village in the Rotorua forest. Their all inclusive experience offers visitors a guided coach trip to the village, on which you will learn about the traditional Maori greeting, and elect a "Chief" to represent your tour and accept a peace offering on arrival. At the village you will see and experience Maori art, customs, and song and dance, before finally dining at a traditional Maori hangi (feast). Tamaki Maori Village proudly claim to be "New Zealand's Most Awarded Cultural Tourism Attraction".
You can learn more about Tamaki Maori Village here.
Te Puia, an important Maori culture centre, has visitor experiences covering traditional artforms, carving and weaving, Maori story-telling, and authentic cultural performances.
Personalised tours with local Maori guides offer in-depth Maori culture experiences taking visitors off-the-beaten track into the region and the local culture.
Rotorua Attractions - Luxury
The region’s thermal landscape provides the perfect setting for a range
of natural spas. Thousands of people flock to them, looking to ease
their tensions in the warm, soothing waters.
Imagine sitting in your own private spa, soaking away your aches and pains and gazing over Lake Rotorua!
And the region is also home to some of New Zealand’s top luxury lodges, such as Treetops Lodge and Wilderness Estate and Lake Okareka Lodge.
Adventure and Outdoors - Rotorua Attractions
The region’s volcanic landscape provides a dynamic backdrop to some of New Zealand’s best adventure and outdoor activities. With more than 70km
of tracks just minutes from the city centre, Rotorua New Zealand is a
leading mountain-biking destination. In Whakarewarewa forest, cyclists
weave through thick forest past flashes of beautiful lakes, geothermal
action and iconic Mt Tarawera.
Rotorua is also home to world-first adventure activities, such as the Zorb and Shweeb. Zorbing involves rolling down a hill in a large inflatable ball (not my thing, sorry!),
while the Shweeb
is the world’s first human powered monorail racetrack. Adrenalin junkies
can also luge, raft, sledge, off-road, sky dive, bodyfly and bungy.
The Rotorua region is an angler’s dream with top-notch river and lake fishing locations, with the unique option of cooking the catch in hot sands on a thermal beach.
For a great view of the region, take a trip on the Skyline Gondola to the top of Mount Ngongotaha. Here you can visit the gift shop, dine at the restaurant, or test yourself on their luge track. Great fun for the whole family.
Rotorua Attractions - There's Lots To Do In Rotorua
Here are a few suggestions:
* Visit the Blue and Green Lakes. These water filled volcanic craters are best viewed from a lookout between the two. They each have their own distinctive colour.
* Rotorua's Agrodome has been entertaining visitors for decades. Sheep
shearing, herding and lamb feeding demonstrations are presented in a
uniquely kiwi way.
* The Hells Gate / Tikitere thermal area is the region's most active, with a small mud volcano and hot waterfall. The complex also houses a Maori carver, hot mineral pools and the Wai Ora Spa.
* The Skyline Gondola and Luge complex is great fun for the family. The gondola ride takes you 487 metres above Rotorua to Mt Ngongotaha for spectacular views. On the luge, riders weave their way down the hillside on small carts which travel at speeds controlled by the rider. Great fun. There is a similar complex in Queenstown.
* Have a picnic beside Lake Rotorua. At 80 square kilometres, it's the second largest North Island lake.
* Te Puia attracts over 500,000 visitors annually and is home to a large thermal area featuring bubbling mud pools, steaming terraces, and the largest and most active geyser in the country, Pohutu, which erupts regularly to heights of up to 30 metres. The complex also houses a Maori cultural centre featuring live traditional music and dance, weaving and carving. One of the "must see" Rotorua attractions.
* Wai-o-Tapu has the most surface geothermal activity in the region. Bubbling pools and springs and a series of amazing coloured pools (including the Champagne Pools) make this another top attraction.
Did you know?
* Rotorua is a Maori word that means 'second lake'.
* Lake Rotorua was formed 140,000 years ago.
* Waimangu volcanic valley is the world’s only hydro thermal system created within written history.
* Rotorua is a four time winner of New Zealand’s most beautiful city award.
State Highways map