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Things to do in Rotorua

Things to do in  Rotorua

Welcome to Rotorua

Widely considered one of the top attractions in New Zealand’s North Island, the town of Rotorua is a landscape of rolling hills, dense forests, and beautiful lakes located a three-hour drive south of bustling Auckland. Delve into a world of bubbling geothermal pools, colorful sulphur formations, and steaming geysers on tours through the volcanic valley Waimangu or Wai-O-Tapu, with its Lady Knox Geyser (arrive in the morning to view it erupt); or take to the skies by helicopter for a sightseeing flight over White Island, an active offshore volcano. Learn of Maori heritage and tradition at the Mitai Maori Village, Te Puia, or Whakarewarewa. For more on indigenous culture, book a guided experience involving a Maori “hangi” dinner, cooked over hot pools and steam vents, which can be combined with a cultural performance. Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” can't miss a visit to Hobbiton, the filmic home of Bilbo Baggins, on a guided tour. Visitors heading to Rotorua in search of adrenaline-pumping adventure can challenge themselves against the swirling rapids on a rafting tour of the Kaituna or Rangitaiki rivers, or perhaps strap in for a jet-boat ride through Tutukau Gorge—home to hidden waterfalls and thermal pools. For something a little more relaxing, take to Lake Rotoiti by kayak to visit glowworm caves and watch as the sun sets on the horizon.

Top 10 attractions in Rotorua


Te Puia

When you first catch a glimpse of Pohutu Geyser thundering up from the Earth and crane your neck skywards at a column of water that’s nearly 100 feet high, you begin to understand why this place has drawn visitors for literally hundreds of years. Only five minutes from central Rotorua, Te Puia is a geothermal and cultural attraction in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. When compared to Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Te Puia is closer to the geysers and also offers an impressive center of Maori arts and crafts. Tour the bubbling, geothermal landscape with a native Maori guide, and then retreat to the national weaving and carving schools to watch Maori students re-create the traditional arts of their ancestors. For a look at furry kiwi birds, there is a small, dark kiwi enclosure that houses the national bird, and for arguably the best evening in Rotorua, return at night to experience Te Po—a traditional ceremony and hangi feast of eating, dancing and lore.More

Lake Rotorua

Although the Rotorua area is speckled with dozens of lakes, Lake Rotorua is a different entity, detached from its neighboring lakes. Larger, deeper and much, much older, geologists believe it dates back over 200,000 years. Some of Rotorua’s other lakes were created by the Tarawera eruption of 1886, but Lake Rotorua is the original waterway to grace this section of the North Island. Unlike the ocean, the waters of the green-hued lake are colored by sulfur and minerals, and the 920-foot elevation makes it a little cooler to the touch. It is the second largest lake on the North Island, is surrounded by a geothermal playground and offers a variety of activities for travelers. Take a cruise through the Ohau Channel, which connects with Lake Rotoiti, or go fly fishing where the waters connect and try to reel in a big one. Slide into the seat of a kayak and silently paddle the lakeshore, or strap on a helmet and go hurtling over falls while rafting on a nearby tributary.More

Government Gardens Rotorua

The Government Gardens in central Rotorua are so bountiful that they could easily be mistaken for a piece of the old English countryside. If it weren’t for the telltale scent of sulfur that wafts through the air from the nearby hot springs, many visitors would forget where they’re standing, due to the Edwardian architecture and dignified landscape. As it happens, this 50-acre compound on the shore of Lake Rotorua was gifted to the Crown by Maori tribes. Taking what was once a patch of scrubland peppered with therapeutic hot pools, the area was transformed into a public park complete with manicured lawns and the famous baths. To add to the impeccable nature of the gardens, an ornate bath house was constructed on the property and now serves as a piece of architectural history. Standing stoically above the flower gardens that burst with color each spring, the building houses the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, which is also well worth a look.More

Mt. Tarawera

Near the northeast coast of the North Island is Mount Tarawera, the volcano responsible for a massive eruption that destroyed the famed, naturally occurring Pink and White Terraces and buried three Maori villages, including Te Wairoa, in 1866. The volcano is currently dormant, but visitors can book several different guided tours of the mountain, ranging from helicopter, 4-wheel drive vehicles and mountain bikes. The area around Mt. Tarawera is breathtaking in its beauty and captivating in its thermal characteristics. Nearby are both the Geothermal Wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu and the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley near Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. At Tarawera's foot is Lake Rotomahana, which offers numerous recreational activities including fishing, water skiing and boating. In addition to Lake Rotomahana, Mt. Tarawera's eruption formed many others, as the rift and domes formed from the explosion dramatically altered the surrounding landscape.More

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Like much of New Zealand's attractions, the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland centers on walking outdoors - but what a walk! The park is New Zealand's most colorful and diverse geothermal attraction; visitors follow demarcated tracks through a stunning variety of volcanic phenomena. You'll see fantastic, naturally colored hot-and-cold pools, the world famous Champagne Pool, the amazing Lady Knox Geyser and the massive craters that are the hallmark of the Rotorua region's volcanic heritage. You'll want to bring a camera and plenty of film/memory cards - the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland has some truly amazing views and scenery. New Zealand is known for its natural beauty, but this geothermal park accentuates it with its unusual geothermal topography. In particular, the shimmering water flowing over the Sinter Terrace Formations is not to be missed.More

Tamaki Maori Village

Visit Tamaki Maori Village to experience Maori culture and society as it existed in pre-European New Zealand. Through performing arts, you’ll see, hear, and feel the Tamaki brothers’ vision for an immersive tour into the traditional Maori way of life. Live the stories, travels, battles, and rituals of the Maori as New Zealand was settled.More

Rotorua Museum (Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa)

The Rotorua region is steeped in New Zealand's history, from the days of the Maori settlers to the advent of European explorers. At the Rotorua Museum, you'll get an in-depth view of Rotorua's past, seen through cinema, galleries and historic locales. When you get there, you'll want to spend some time in the Te Arawa and Tarawera galleries - the former houses an extensive collection of ancient Maori art and artifacts, as well as treasured antique photographs from the European colonial era. The latter is dedicated to the eruption of Mt. Tarawera and the destruction wreaked in 1886. After you've explored the galleries, you'll want to check out the Bath House, an architectural icon of yesteryear, known the world over for its supposed curative therapies and a centerpiece for New Zealand tourism. In the Bath House, guests were encouraged to bathe in various types of mineral waters during the health craze of the early 20th century.More

Lady Knox Geyser

Named for Lady Constance Knox, a daughter of the 15th governor of New Zealand, Lady Knox Geyser is located in the North Island's Taupo Volcanic Zone. While this region is famous for a variety of fascinating geological phenomena, the Lady Knox Geyser is unique. Every day it erupts at precisely 10:15am, when a park guide induces it to do so - with soap. Indeed, the soap is used to break the surface tension of the cold water in the geyser's upper chamber so that it will mix with the hot water in the lower chamber, which causes an 20 meter (65 feet) eruption that can last an hour. Stones have been placed around the opening in order to enhance the blast, and over the years, silica in the water has given the spout a nozzle-like appearance. You'll find it among the other natural marvels of the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.More

Redwoods Forest Whakarewarewa

Rotorua is a place of geysers, mud pools, Maori villages, and lakes, but it’s also rung by Redwood forests that house some of the world’s best mountain biking. Here in the Redwoods Forest Whakarewarewa, just minutes from the center of town, visitors will find a network of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding that weave through towering Redwoods. Though the area was planted for commercial forestry, it’s also become a favorite spot for outdoor recreation, where mountain bikers fly thousands of miles for the chance to experience the trails.More


For over 200 years, the people of the Maori tribe of Tuhourangi - Ngati Wahiao have lived near the geothermal activity of Whakarewarewa; but in 1998, they established a charitable trust through which they were able to create a unique, independent tourism experience. Called the Living Thermal Village, Te Whakarewarewa is a visitor experience similar to Amish country in that you get to experience a way of life that has remained relatively unchanged since the early 1800s. Through cultural tours, villagers welcome visitors into their homes and demonstrate Maori heritage and traditions in the best way possible - by living it. You'll walk through the village with a guide and participate in communal activities. Since the residents live and work in the attraction, guests may take part in anything from a wedding to a funeral to ceremonial tribal gatherings. Ceremony and cultural performances occur daily, including the famous hangi feast.More

Trip ideas

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

How to Spend 1 Day in Rotorua

How to Spend 1 Day in Rotorua

Top activities in Rotorua

Rotorua Highlights Small Group Tour Including Te Puia from Auckland

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Recent reviews from experiences in Rotorua

Nice trio grom Rotorua to Taupo
PaulBG, Dec 2019
Taupo Day Trip with Orakei Korako from Rotorua
If you want to visit Orakei Korako from Rotorua it is reasonable to take this trip as it allows you to take a look at Huka Falls and Taupo lake/town as well, although last ones are not so fascinating as the rest of places in the area.
The breakfast was better than any...
Janice D, Feb 2016
Lake Rotorua Paddle Boat Cruise
Brilliant to see a good supply of fruits a starter.
A joint trip to Taupo , Huka Falls...
HUSNU ARIL S, Mar 2015
Te Puia Day Pass - Geysers, Mud Pools, Kiwi, Culture, History & more
A joint trip to Taupo , Huka Falls and Rotorua is what I would highly recommend It is a first rate Nature Experience Maori culture experience is at its best at Auckland Museum
Excellent adventure to see glow worms in the forest
rodh524, Nov 2019
Nocturnal adventure Glow-worm tour
The first sight we had of glow worms was by a waterfall.
Around The Lakes Tour
john p, Aug 2019
Mornin Lakes Tour
I’ve been to Rotorua a few times before and visited all the usual tourist attractions close to and around town.
Natalie from New Zealand Discovery...
Gerard Carlo P, Jul 2018
Hobbiton: Te Puia: Redwood Forest, Rotorua Highlights, Small Group Day Tour
Then we got to see the Lady Knox Geyser.
Thanks for all the arrangements...
Ka Kin C, Mar 2018
Te Puia Geysers, Kiwi bird, Redwood Forest & Highlights Drive: Rotorua Tour
Time arrangement is good and accurate so that we complete all the attractions in time with no hurry.

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