New Zealand: Exploring Rotorua

Rotorua is based on the North Island of New Zealand, in the Bay of Plenty region. It is nicknamed “Sulphur City” due to the rotten egg smell coming from the thick sulphuric deposits hidden around the city. It is a popular destination for both local and international tourists due to its unique geothermal springs, geysers and hot mud pools. Besides these, there is a plethora of other attractions in and around the city for all sorts of tastes and preferences.


It is the 10th largest city in New Zealand, with a population of 56,000 people. It has a compact city centre, filled with picturesque timber buildings mixed with more modern architecture.

WHAT CAN YOU SEE AND DO?

Water Activities and Tours:

There are an abundance of options if you want to experience Rotorua by water. New Zealand Riverjet offers jet boat cruises down the Waikato River, through the stunning Tutukau Gorge and includes a visit to Orakei Korako Geothermal Wonderland.  This is an excellent tour for visitors looking to experience some adventure, while getting the best of the region in a short period of time. The Lakeland Queen is the largest boat on Lake Rotorua, a stern wheel paddleboat, and runs daily breakfast/lunch/coffee cruises.  This is a majestic, well appointed boat that will remind you of the boats on the Mississippi River in years gone by. Otherwise, if cruises are not your cup of tea, there are also options for whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing that will allow you to experience the best of Rotorua.

Walking and Hiking:

There are several walking and hiking tracks in and around the city that present stunning views, wildlife encounters and experiences close to nature. The Government Gardens are a big attraction in the city centre itself, and are home to the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, the Klamath Falls Rose Gardens, Te Runanga Tea House and Band Rotunda. The Hamurana Springs is located 15 – 20 minute drive from the city, and is an 800 meter easy walking track through beautiful, gigantic California Redwood trees, gorgeous blue waters and many bird species that reside in the wildlife sanctuary. For the more exploratory walkers, Waikaremoana Discovery Tour run 4-day walking tours through the spectacular Lake Waikaremoana, Whirinaki Forest and Te Urewera National Park.

Geothermal Attractions:

The most famous attractions in the area, Rotorua has a diverse range of parks and places offering the chance to experience geothermal springs, mud pools and geysers. Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland offers colorful formations of volcanic craters, hot and cold springs, steaming pools and the Lady Knox Geyser that erupts daily at 10.15am.  Hells Gate Geothermal Park and Mud Bath Spa has the most active geothermal field in NZ, and has 50 acres of a variety of thermal features including steaming fumaroles, pools of boiling mud, and the Kakahi Falls, which is the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. You can also indulge in the geothermal mud paths of Hells Gate in the new Mud Bath and Spa Complex that is landscape with native planting and attractive scenery. A small stroll from the Tudor Bath House in Government Gardens is located Sulphur Point, a 2hour long path that follows the lakeshore to Sulphur Bay (Motutara Point).

Arts and Culture:

The Buried Village of Te Wairoa displays what life was like before, during, and after the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in the picturesque village of Te Wairoa. This quaint and insightful museum has been painstakingly put together by three generations of the Smith family. The Rotorua Museum has been recently restored and it is a must see when coming to Rotorua. The rich Maori culture, local history and volatile landscape come alive through various multimedia displays. The museum is located in the Bath House building, in Government Gardens. Te Amorangi Museum holds an eclectic collection from 1920s era, and shares the space with Cozy Cottages and Rotorua’s first jail.  Here you can see horse drawn carts, steam and stationery engines, and a remarkable selection of Mamaku’s past tramways and sawmills.

June 24, 2014